On July 7, 2019, my wife Kayla and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary.
That’s right. I have been married for ONE YEAR. There was a time in my life when I felt like I would never even find love (I’m only half kidding). But here I am, one year after marrying the most beautiful woman I’ve ever (and will ever) seen, and my favorite person in the world.
Yes, this is the most important thing on my mind right now, the year of amazing time I’ve spent with my wife. But it takes me back to when Kayla and I first met, and the changes that I underwent because of that.
There’s a stereotype, or a maybe a stigma, among golfers that when a golfer meets a significant other they lose focus and begin their decline, eventually setting aside any big ambitions and ultimately giving up the game. And from the outside, this is exactly what I did. I met Kayla in July of 2017, and by the end of that year I had declared with certainty that I would no longer be pursuing my dream of playing pro golf. But if you were close enough to see what actually happened, you would realize how beneficial the “distraction” of having a significant other in my life was to both my golf game and my life as a whole.
When I was at my peak of playing competitive golf and pursuing my dream of playing professionally, I was spending 8+ hours a day, 7 days a week, every week from 2013-2017. I never took a day off. Even holidays, birthdays, and special days with family were only half days of playing golf. I would still squeeze as much practice out of the day as I possibly could.
For these 4 years (and the 11 years before, just not as heavy of a schedule) I was completely focused, blinders on, no distractions whatsoever, with one goal in mind: getting better at golf. Every decision I made, every food I ate, every minute I spent was calculated to accomplish my goal.
But then in July of 2017 I met Kayla. Meeting Kayla didn’t make me want to play golf less. She simply showed me that there is more to life than the singular pursuit of one thing. And contrary to the stigma on “golfer meets significant other and gives up”, I actually got much better at golf. If you happened to be following along back then you would know how good my results started getting. I won two tournaments in July 2017 (the Triad Am and the Carolinas Open) and then a couple months later finished runner-up in the U.S. Mid-Am.
To try and put a point on what I actually went through in meeting Kayla was it taught me to not wrangle and control golf so much. To care less and less about the result of the shot/round/tournament. It changed my expectations. My expectations for a day went from “how can I do this one thing better” to “how can I grow as a person?” and “what can I do to grow in my relationship with someone?” But don’t hear me wrong. Golf was still a huge part of the equation. For the first months of our relationship it was still my goal and ambition to play professionally. But I had found a new balance.
Now, I can’t give all the credit to my playing better to meeting Kayla. There were 15 years of previous hard work and countless hours spent practicing leading up to the summer of 2017. But what I can say is the new balance I had once I met Kayla allowed my hard work to actually surface. Something was blocking me from playing well, and changing my perspective removed that block. That block was my mind. When your mind is only pointed in one direction, it never has the opportunity to access all of its other abilities. The mind is two-sided, and within those sides are an infinite amount of variations of skills that lie in wait for you to access them. So allowing your brain to open up and flow is “the zone” that everybody wants to get in.
Golf is such a contradiction. When all you care about is playing well, success often eludes you. But once you release that care and begin holding golf a little more loosely, often times success lands right in your lap. You’ve heard about pro golfers that struggle for a long time and then give up, only to start playing well once they quit. And then give pro golf another go. It’s a care thing. It’s an expectation thing. It’s a balance thing. The key is to find the balance of pursuing your goal wholeheartedly and truly not caring about the result. Having the perspective of “I’m going to give all of me, without any expectation of something in return.” Finding this balance in my own life was the key to what little success I was able to have.
The point of this is not me telling you to go meet someone and you’ll magically start playing better or getting closer to reaching whatever goal in life you have. My point is that when you meet someone, or you change your perspective and outlook on the importance of golf or whatever it may be however you can, then that goal becomes less important. And as a result you might get better. But that’s not what matters anymore. You have your priorities right.
For some, when they get closer to reaching their goal than they ever have, they might realize that the dream they were chasing all along wasn’t as great as they thought. This is what happened to me. But for others, you might get into a position where you can live your childhood dream every day, and live it more fully because of the balance you have. This is what I hope to help others achieve. It is my new dream or goal or ambition. I want all golfers to feel so comfortable going to a mental coach that they would do that even before going to a swing instructor. Because I know in my core that having the right perspective and achieving balance in your life is the true key to success and happiness. And at the end of the day, what else could matter more than that?