It’s the dog days of summer. Our energy bills are going up while our personal energy is gradually declining. By this point, the beating sun has all but drained the spring pep in our step. Across the country, temperatures are climbing into the triple digits and the skies are crying out for cooler days.
On tour, the practice facilities aren’t quite as packed. Instead, players are seeking shade and physio room. In some cases they are hidden at home, opting for the week off. On the other side of that scalding-hot coin, a few players are starting a three-week stretch after a month at home. Regardless of each player's circumstances, our gas tanks aren’t as full as they once were.
My practice round playing partner, Gina Kim, just flew into Michigan from Evian, France after a last-minute spot opened up for her in last week's major championship. This is her fourth of five weeks on the road. When we talked about spending our weeks off, she said, “I used to always say my dream vacation was a week in Santorini. Now, I’d say I just want a week to lay on my couch at home. Or just a couch anywhere for that matter.”
For Gina, that rest will have to wait. For many players, it won't come for almost three weeks. This begs the question: how do we refuel and maintain the stamina to finish strong? Everyone has their own approach. There are obvious solutions - nutrition, hydration, rest, exercise, and physical therapy. Here in Battle Creek, Michigan all of those are readily available. The volunteers have stacked the player's locker room with more snacks than I knew existed. Check the coolers and you’ll see that we won’t be short on electrolytes or caffeine. Walk a few steps out of the locker room and you’ll find players receiving therapy, ice, and performing exercises with our tour physio.
Refueling resources are always readily available. However, all of those fail to address perhaps the most important part of us all - our spirits. So, what do we do about that?
When snacks don’t soothe the soul, what will? Usually, I turn to things that either inspire me or bring joy to my heart - books, music, podcasts and long talks with loved ones. On my 14-hour drive north to Michigan, I had all the time to check them off the list. When I pulled into the parking lot, my cup of life was full. But the one for golf was all soaked up by the summer heat.
The week has drawn long. My first round didn’t go well. I returned later that evening for practice. In the most unexpected manner, that inspiring fuel came to me in the form of a little girl, Ava. She was running around the putting green with childlike energy chasing signatures. I took some time to talk to her and learned all about the sports she plays. Just like me at the age of eight, she couldn’t pick a favorite sport. Regardless, she said one day I want to be like you.
Just like that, I was reminded of our purpose, to inspire others to chase their dreams. The truth is professional golf is nothing like I dreamt it to be when I was Ava’s age. Back then, it was about the glitz, glam, great outfits and good games. Now, it’s about the grind - long days, lonely nights, lots of sad goodbyes, none of which I would share with Ava. Because it’s still worth the chase for her to be like whomever she looks up to.
I say this because as I sit here alone in another hotel room, perplexed by this turbulent journey, I realize what chasing my idols taught me. I’ve never become the person I said I wanted to be when I was nine. Ava will never become me. Hopefully, she becomes something greater. The reason is she’ll become her.
If there is anything this journey has taught me, it is that I’ve learned who I am. Thanks to my idols telling me to chase my dream knowing darn well it’s not what I had in my head. They knew then the part of the dream I was missing. Probably the point of it all. The dream is to find you. As one of my favorite idols says,
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” - Dolly Parton
By the way, Gina Kim finished the Epson Tour event in Michigan tied for the lead. She lost in a playoff and finished second.