So to recap, I have to go back a few weeks. French Lick, Indiana. It's a small, slightly quirky, historic town, but somehow some of the most defining moments of my life happened there during university. From learning what being dead last felt like as a team at the BIG Ten Championship my freshman year on the Ross course to completing a tremendous comeback season the year after to get us to NCAA Regionals to sneaking out of the hotel with my teammates to play mini-putt to questioning my entire golfing career on the 16th hole at the Dye course my junior year, French Lick has been the source of some of life-altering experiences and the Symetra event there back in July proved to be no different.
To say I had a "brain fart" would be an understatement. I knew I was on the cut-line and any reasonable person would have realized that going for a back pin on a severely sloped back to front par 3 green was a stupid idea with only 4 holes left to play. But there I was sitting in the scoring tent with one shot too many, realizing that Donald Ross had gotten the better of me again. I was so frustrated with myself, but it was just the beginning of a new path of experiences I was about to embark on.
Fast forward to the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic in Rochester, New York two weeks later. 3 holes left to play and 2 shots off the cut line. Here we go again. Another grind. To say I didn't bargain with God on that 3rd last hole would be a lie. I'm tired of this and don't want to do this anymore. If this is what you want me to do, show me! Those are the exact words I screamed in my brain as I walked (more like charged) down that fairway. And low and behold, the craziest of things happened! I somehow managed to stick an approach to 3 feet on that hole to birdie and then sank a 7 foot downhill birde putt on the next hole to make the cut on the dot. Small victory achieved! One of my best friends and her boyfriend had come to watch me, and I was literally so in shock about what just happened that I couldn't even express how glad I was to see them after because my brain hadn't recovered!
On a side note, that tournament was where I realized how much more I have to improve if I want to get to the next level. Nanna Koerstz Madsen won her 3rd tournament with a score of -22 and achieved a "battle field exemption" which means you get immediate status on the LPGA Tour. And as I watched her breakaway from the field with domination, I realized my -1 score over the 72 holes of play was just not enough, at all.
On to the next week at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Michigan. And guess what?! Yep, you guessed it! Let's grind again! Going into the 2nd round, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I needed to shoot under par to get to the cut line. And it wasn't happening on the first 9 holes, but I had the most amazing moment on the 10th hole. I chipped in for eagle and I knew right there and then that I could do it! Fast forward to the last hole. All I had to do was par it, and I knew it. Except it was probably the hardest hole on the entire course with a 15 yard by 20 yard landing area on the green before it sloped off on all sides. Yikes! And leave it to me to hit the ball off to the right greenside rough. Now I have a bad lie for strangely sloping chip. It didn't go well. So now, I have a double breaking 10-15 foot putt for par. And in that moment, I think the whole world went into slo-mo as I watched the ball catch the right lip of the hole and drop into the cup! I did the weirdest and most emotion filled "fist pump squat" ever as I realized I had just made the cut! Small victory achieved! One of my good teammates from university and her boyfriend had come to watch me, and I was just so pumped to share that moment with her because I knew she would get it as a fellow competitive golfer!
On to my most recent tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin -- the PHC Classic. The first day of this tournament was not exactly ideal, but here we were in the middle of summer with 30 mile per hour winds, rain and 12 degrees Celsius weather. I was definitely getting my money's worth during that round until I had an eagle (yes, another one!)! Even with my inflated score, I was eerily calm about making the cut the next day. But it was going to be a grind, again. So here's where it gets interesting. The next day was beautiful and everyone in my group had to play well to make the cut. And as a group, we were 13 under par through 5 holes! Like what?! That's unreal! We all simmered down a little on the back nine, but I knew I had to birdie the last hole to make the cut. And I don't know what overcame me, but I striped a drive off the tee and then a 3 wood to the front of the green on the par 5. And the only thing I was thinking before I chipped was "you're going to be okay". And as I think back on that, what does that even mean when you're about to hit a chip?! It has nothing to do with hitting the shot, but then again, it has everything to do with life. Fortunately, I chipped the ball to a few inches and tapped it in to make birdie and make the cut! Small victory achieved!
What I didn't know was that on the opposite side of the course, the group who had teed off at the same tee time (1:47pm) had played unbelievably well too! So my group finished at -13 and their group finished at -16, which put our two groups at -29! That's insane!!! Something about that 1:47pm tee time! :P And to put the icing on the cake of this story, Brittany Marchand (fellow Canadian! Eh!!!) was in that other tee time at 1:47pm and she ended up winning the tournament! She said she bunted the ball around the course, but in reality, she absolutely rocked it!! Congrats Britt!! :D
Overall, these past few weeks have really taught me how to grind it out. You have to be calm, have no expectations, and just roll with it. I believe, no question, that God was working his hand in all this, but that's why you have to let go and let him have control. That was the difference between French Lick and the past 3 tournaments. When you let go of wanting to control outcomes and embrace the small victories you do have, your entire outlook on life changes drastically. I only made $1560 over the past 4 tournaments, which doesn’t even cover the entry fee to those tournaments, but I made the cuts, grinded it out with everything I had, put together some great golf and learned so much. So to end this off, I have a new definition of "grinding it out". It's not just about having experience and the will power to get a result you want. It's about letting go of the need to succeed to allow yourself to be calm and achieve what you are capable of in that moment; and knowing that it will be "okay" no matter the outcome.
So here's to grinding it out for those small victories on the course and in life!