Just over a week ago, I was in St. George, Utah playing the Copper Rock Championship. Everyone who was there knows the turbulent weather we had to traverse throughout the week -- winds so strong that the desert dust danced in the afternoon heat while rock-hard greens screamed for rain. They pleaded loudly enough that the clouds answered. We were lucky to see the desert quench its thirst for the first time in months.
When it rained, it poured. At that moment, my mom and I stood at the highest point on the golf course. The rain wasn’t falling, it was running side to side as the wind pushed it along. It pushed my umbrella too. I learned that with sideways rain, an umbrella is irrelevant. After extending the canopy, the metal support rods burst through the seams. I buried that umbrella in the trash can of the sixth hole.
That wouldn’t be the only thing that took its last gasp on that windy cold day in Utah. After a sideways drive, I found myself on the natural turf of Copper Rock Golf Course. My ball sat on the red clay. After removing all of the debris around my ball, it looked safe to play. But the shooting pain and tingling sensation that ran through my arms shortly after impact told me otherwise.
The telling signs that something had gone haywire would come at the par-three 11th hole that called for a 7-iron. When I pulled the 7-iron out of my bag, it was completely bent out of shape. A golf ball wasn’t the only thing I made contact with on that shot out of the clay. My seven iron was now out of commission for the day. Perhaps a club specialist could bend it, but that was a repair that would have to wait a day. It all seemed like some sort of foreshadowing for what lay ahead.
Throughout the round, my mom and I prayed for a rain delay. Just a quick timeout to catch our breaths, dry our clothes, and hope the sun would start shining again. Because, truth be told, the clouds weren’t the only thing letting out tears. My eyes supplied the desert land with some water, too. Prior to making the trip out west, I’d been fighting shoulder pain. This event would be where I’d put it to the test. Between the weather conditions and my shot out of the clay, my shoulder was starting to wither. I’d hoped that a brief interruption would allow the shoulder to warm up, pain to subside, and more Advil to kick in. Then, I’d return to play and fight on. Of all my wishes, a rain delay never came. I fought through the pain, but my play wouldn’t be good enough to swing another day.
Barely making it through two rounds in Utah, I knew I’d have to pull out of the next event in Kansas. I rerouted my trip to fly home to Pennsylvania and figure out what is going on.
Little did I know, this would be the start of my own rain delay. If you ask any golfer, the majority of the time we dread delays. It is a bunch of wasted time filled with anticipation. Most players will have the Weather Channel app pulled up trying to guess when the horn will blow to resume play.
My rain has come in the form of shoulder pain. Unfortunately, there is no app giving me any sort of idea of when I will return to play. My biggest hope was an MRI Arthrogram. When the test results came back inconclusive, the next course of action was PT and a “see how it feels approach” until I take another full swing.
Like most players waiting for the clouds to clear, I’d say I’m a little on edge, not knowing what will come next. I’m a planner. I like to know exactly where I’ll be, when I’ll play and where I’ll stay. Right now my calendar is full of question marks. A blurry watermark over the plans that were previously penciled in.
The truth is everything in life is penciled in. We never know when the clouds will coast in and we’ll have to reroute our trip. Even with our best guesses, we won’t know exactly when the rain will subside, and the sun will shine again. I’m realizing that life may include learning to dance in the rain.
If I could take myself back to that mountaintop moment when the wind whipped and our umbrella collapsed, I’d say it broke for a reason. I didn’t need the umbrella. I didn’t need the rain gear. I needed peace of mind. I needed to forget it all and dance.
Embrace the rain instead of fighting it. Rain or shine today is what we are given. We can hide under cover or embrace all that we discover in the 86,400 seconds of a day. I’m not the best at it. However, when I see the rainbow at the end of this storm, I hope that instead of a pot of gold, I find a heaping mound of gratitude. Gratitude for golf, but more so for this precious life we are so lucky to live.