A week ago I walked onto the practice range at Crystal Mountain Golf Course to warm up for my first competitive round in over 7 years. The morning air was cool as the sun peaked over the towering trees engulfing our surroundings. The dew glistened off the expanse of the driving range and shadows danced on the putting green.
It had only been a month since deciding to register for the event and I started intentionally practicing for it. I hadn’t played 3 days in a row where every stroke counts in 7 years. As the inside of my gut twisted and turned, I was fully aware of my ambivalence. I felt excited and nervous. I felt free and tight. I felt focused and distracted. I felt vulnerable.
7 years ago I didn’t know the power ambivalence held over my life – both on the course and off. On this beautiful Northern Michigan morning, I was very aware.
Being with all the young aspiring players as they push themselves toward their dreams of the LPGA Tour was surreal. As I took in the scene before me it didn’t feel like very long ago that I was 22 hitting balls on a driving range somewhere in hot pursuit of the tour. And yet here I was – 23 years after turning pro and 7 years retired from living the dream.
Simultaneously, I felt like I was home and in a foreign land. You see, when I retired from the tour I shut the door on my competitive days and on my life as a golfer for good. I was done and never planned on playing again. In 2009, my heart held a 10-ton brick of hidden pain and shame that left me despising golf.
The last 7 years have been a journey. A journey of completely separating myself from golf (playing less than 5 rounds a year) to entering into my story of trauma with honesty and truth (holding both the goodness and the pain of golf in my life) to finding joy in golf again as it opens opportunities to be with people.
I played all 3 days and while the end results were not what I had hoped for, I can hold the words from my kind friend, “You on the course competing for real is redemption of the best kind. Satan came to kill your desire, steal your heart and destroy your glory….step in his head every time you’re invited to curse the goodness of today.”
And so I am walking away from this experience full because I took a risk, I didn’t quit, and my heart is alive.