Tournament Golf Hangover…

It may sound really strange to a non-golfer, but there is a post-tournament hangover that settles in regardless of whether you win or finish last. Today, I am feeling the emotional letdown of a very hard and disappointing performance at the first LPGA Senior Championship. That might be a bothersome statement to some of my readers…and it it true for me. It is also true that there is so much good for me to name and hold with the fact that I put the tee in the ground for 54 holes of competition with the best golfers of my generation and the generations before me.

Eight years ago I left the LPGA tour. I hated golf and I said I would never compete again. While the opportunity to play on the Legends Tour is enough for many to dust off the sticks, personally the last 8 years have been a long and hard journey back to golf. My journey has included acknowledging that I was not okay internally – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I needed help and God graciously provided several kind women to come alongside me.

My journey since has included naming truth about abuse that I had kept in secret, about how performance acceptance was my drug of choice, and about caring for my emotionally empty heart that was (and is) hungry for nurture, love, and care.

Most importantly, my journey has been about learning to cultivate self care, kindness, and acceptance for what I am feeling (I still have lots to learn). I am returning to the truth that God blessed me with talent to play this crazy game and I am a golfer. And the reality is that Golf also holds much pain and trauma. Even though I am down the road of recovery, my body still remembers the trauma of where fear and anxiety have held a tight grip when I walk onto a golf course.

My logical brain says that I have worked on my story, I am enjoying golf again, and I should be able to play great golf. Well, I experienced something much different this past week at the Inaugural LPGA Championship. Cortisol rushed through my body and I struggled swinging the club the way I know how to. I retreated to doubt and fear instead of staying relaxed and target oriented. I was miserable.

I was not kind to myself throughout the course of play. Matter of fact, I was down right aggressive with words of self-contempt and hatred toward myself. I floundered between inviting Jesus to be with me on the course to kicking him off with my venom. My goal for the week was to be present for each golf shot. I summed it up yesterday with this comment, “I get half the swing right. Sometimes it’s the first half and sometimes it’s the second half.” A moment of laughter that brought levity and perspective to the moment.

I am disappointed in my play. The course played hard. And…it was enough that I risked playing. I am going to bless my golf tournament hangover. I’m blessing my disappointment. I’m blessing my bravery for re-entering the world of competitive golf. I am reminding myself to practice self-care and kindness instead of self-contempt. I am celebrating and blessing the moments when I did stay present. I am choosing to be present to all of it – the good and the hard. I am choosing to rest. And I will play again…


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