To give the past 4 tournaments a quick summary, "frustrating" would be a good word. I didn't think I would be in the position I am in now 4 weeks ago, but that's golf for you in a nutshell -- unpredictable.
The 1st tournament of the 4 week stretch started off in Milton, Georgia. Atlanta National Golf Club is where I played my first ever Symetra Tour event 2 years ago and made the cut! So this place holds good memories for me. I had a volunteer caddie on my bag who has caddied for me 5 previous times and it's pretty awesome that he would want to come out and do that for me, especially since he lives in Las Vegas (go Golden Knights! I'm secretly cheering for Vegas to win the Stanley Cup since 90% of their team is Canadian!). Anyways, I started off this tournament decently the first two days, but the last day was traumatic. I was pretty steady until I hit my 13th hole and the worst pollen storm ever hit! I have really bad environmental allergies in general and I literally couldn't see out of one eye. It burned so bad!! My mind went into survival mode and my focus on golf went out the window. Needless to say, the last 5 holes weren't exactly stellar.
Moving on to Greenwood, South Carolina. Usually, this tournament is one of the better ones, but this year they really struggled since it was their last year of sponsorship and the course was being sold. If you watch PGA or LPGA Tour golf on TV, you usually see pristinely cut, green grass and smooth greens. This is not always the case on developmental tours. I couldn't believe how much winter kill there was all over this course. Dirt patches/brown grass spots all over the fairways and the greens were basically like playing plinko because they were in such bad shape. These conditions plus the fact that we played the course as it was without any preferred lies (i.e. lift, clean and place) didn’t exactly promote the best golf. The first 27 holes for me went pretty well with all things considered, but my 28th hole came with the most confidence-knocking situation that has ever happened to me on the golf course. I 6-putted! Yes, you read that right. 6 PUTTS. It was caused by a combination of the worse pin location I've ever seen in a tournament and the fact that this particular green was really dried out by the time I ended up playing it in the late afternoon. The pin was located on the edge of a huge slope and if you didn't get the ball within a 2 foot radius of the hole it was either rolling back off the green 40 feet away or you had a lightning quick putt back down to the hole from above it. Needless to say, I did not navigate this hole location with much luck at all as I found myself even further away from the hole on my 3rd putt than I had been on my 1st putt which had already been 40 feet away. I made a quad-bogey on that hole and though I tried my best to recover from it with the remaining 7 holes, it was hard to have confidence after that. (note: I later found out that more than a handful of players had also 4+ putted this hole. Not good.)
With that behind me, I thought it could only go up from there as we drove to Davidson, North Carolina for the 3rd tournament. Rain. That's the best way to describe this tournament. Shortened from 3 rounds to 2 because of how much rain there was over the 3 days it took us to play. On the Symetra Tour, tournament play is suspended when there is a dangerous situation (i.e. lightning) or unplayable conditions (i.e. flooding). Anyways, I had really struggled through the first 27 holes of the tournament and knew I wasn't going to make the cut. But with 2 holes left to play in my 2nd round, play was suspended as a huge downpour had occurred -- flooding some holes -- and another was expected soon. At first, we were told it would be a 20 minute delay and we would get an update in 20 minutes. But this cycle of updating every 20 minutes occurred for 3 hours because the rain just kept coming in weird pop-up downpours. By the time they let everybody back out to warm up again, they decided to suspend play for the day because the course was soaked. Now, for me, I seriously considered just withdrawing instead of coming back the next day to finish 2 holes when I knew I was 10+ shots off the potential cut line anyway. But after thinking about it, I realized that this is no way to think. You should always finish what you started when you have made a commitment even if you know that the result is going to be unfavourable. It was a good life lesson in an unenjoyable situation; so I showed up the next day at 8am and finished with 2 lovely pars :)
Onto the last, but newest event in the 4 week stretch. The Valley Forge Invitational in Pottstown, Pennsylvania which is about 45 minutes northwest of Philadelphia. (side note: I went to Valley Forge while I was there and learned that they didn't actually have any fighting there at all -- it was just a winter encampment! You learn something new every day!) So after the past 3 weeks, I had a good feeling about this tournament -- back on bent grass, similar landscape to home, no crazy weather in the forecast. And it was looking really optimistic 5 holes into my 2nd round. I was 4-under through the first 5 holes and really felt like this was my time. I was aware of how much better I was playing and I was relaxed even though a situation like this can sometimes make me feel more nervous. But for some reason, the wheels on the bus started to fall off. It started with an unlucky shot from a greenside bunker that had no sand in it and then a missed 2 foot putt. After that it became a slow burn. I just kept bogeying so many holes. By the 16th hole, I felt myself losing all hope as I fell further away from the cutline. I didn't want to, but it was an overwhelming sensation. Nothing was going right anymore, and nothing I did was making it better. People say that this would be a time where you should "grind it out", but to be completely honest, no matter how hard I grinded, nothing was working for me. In sports, sometimes a switch flips and sometimes it doesn't. That's just how it is. If it flips, you can "grind it out", go on that "hot streak", or "turn the game around". But if it doesn’t, you just let it be. The "switch flipping" doesn't happen as much as you would expect from what I've experienced and you really can't control it or else everyone would shoot 54 all the time! Ask anyone who wins a tournament and they will tell you that it just felt like it was "their time" and everything was falling into place by itself. All the players on tour are really good and consistency is super important, but sometimes you just don't have it. So you ride it out, keep working hard, and wait patiently for the switch to flip.
Life and golf aren't usually very predictable at all and even though the results have been unsatisfactory, I learned a lot from my last 4 weeks of challenging situations. It really has been a test of patience of all sorts and I'm not going to say that I haven't been disappointed, but knowing that I can deal with disappointment without giving up has been encouraging in itself. It may seem cliché but it's always true -- you just never stop learning.
Thanks for reading and wish me luck in the next 4 week stretch!