Saturday was the first day of our club championship. This was the third year I have played in it. The past two years I finished last. I was determined not to finish in last place this year. All summer my scores ranged in the high 40s and low 50s for 9 holes. I got my first new driver, ever. My game was doing OK. I was excited to play this year.
Well, the first nine was a disaster. I shot a 61. My inconsistent play got me into trouble on a couple of holes, scoring a 10 and a 12. I improved on the back nine, but not much. I shot a 57 for a first day score of 118. Last place.
I headed home feeling pretty low. I had hit some nice shots and even had a par. But I was again in last place. I had another day to play I told myself. Sunday would be better.
Sunday was a new opportunity. I had three pars, hit some incredible putts and made some nice shots. But I shot a 61 on the front nine and a 58 on the back nine. 119. One shot worse then Saturday. Last place again.
At that moment, I wanted to quit. I had been playing for 20 years and had improved very little. I practice. Especially the last couple of years I have had a practice session almost every week. Maybe I’m just not good at golf and am wasting my time.
As I drove home today, it hit me how much I sounded like a student. I started to remember students who would say the same thing in my class when presented with new material, or a deeper concept. I remember one student who would balk at anything creative. They would state that they weren’t creative, and it was too hard. Or the times working through rough drafts of essays and hearing time and time again, that the student wasn’t a good writer. I would do my best to break through the mindset, but I don’t know if I actually did get through for some of the students.
What really got me this weekend was the way I felt about myself. How my students might also feel about themselves. I know that my self worth is not measured by my handicap, but that didn’t change the way I felt as I drove home. Last place. Everything felt like last place. How do my students feel about themselves when they struggle, when they say “I’m not good at this.”? Are they experiencing that same irrational, but ever present connection to their self-worth? I bet they are, and keeping that in mind could help generate a new approach when a student wants to quit.