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The last time I played it was just my buddy and I. No distractions. The course was challenging but certainly not impossible to score well on.

Beautiful day, no elements to deal with. Just having fun, no pressure. Little bit of money on the line here or there, but nothing to make the heart beat any faster, or play any different and…

I guess just don’t understand it. How can somebody start the first three holes: Par, par, par, and then drop a ten? (Not a pick your ball up 10 either…a legit count your strokes at the end 10). And then later in the round have another stretch that goes: Par, par, bogey, par, ten.

What the hell?

I do not understand it. I can’t think of any other sport where you can be so on and off in the same game, same round, same sitting. Or from shot to shot.

I have one or two friends that play at a really high level. A few more who are very good consistently. And then a few others who are exactly like me…Hackers, capable of any shot at anytime. Whether that be a complete whiff, or holing a deuce on a par 4…from about 130 yards away, over a stream and bushes, onto an elevated green, in front of another group of 4 guys, while playing through,…barefooted.

It’s a coin flip.

You’d think that repetition, and the act of going through the same, or a similar, motion every time would eventually work its way into the muscle memory. And maybe as a result help me remember how to execute some consistent shots and produce some good scores along the way. Instead, on any given golf outing, I’m capable of shooting anywhere from a 77 (career best) to 150.

I have no idea how the pros do it. The best golfer I know and have ever played with told me one time, “It’s like I don’t know how to aim, I’m never really comfortable with my feet during my stance.”

Shit. You say that? Then what the hell am I supposed to do?

My response has always been to take the approach of not lining anything up, taking zero–or very few–practice swings, playing fast and taking as much thought out of the game as possible. I’ve never had a good experience with a shot that I’ve spent too much time thinking about. Many chip shots have ended up about five feet in front of me when I’ve focused hard like that.

I also like to include staying off the driving range. I’ve never understood ‘the range.’ I’ll go if my wife, kids, or dad want to go hang out and dink around a little bit, assuming we don’t have the time to play an actual round. But you’ll never see me there by myself ‘working on my game.’

Why would anyone ever put themselves through that? If you hit ’em well, you’re just waisting all your good shots, or at least it seems that way. I don’t know how many times I’ve played with someone and heard them say ‘Man, I don’t know what’s going on, I was hitting ’em good on the range the other day….’

And If you struggle, your confidence plummets. Meaning the next time out to the course you’ll have no imagery of good golf shots in your head and will probably play a little timid.

My ideal version of practicing golf includes playing 18(+) holes with a good partner, or group, on a course with very few other others on it. Throw in a Mikes Hard, or a couple of beers for the icing on the cake. No practice on the range.

Every round I play is a practice round. If I started taking it too serious I couldn’t go home at night and sleep very well knowing I gave it everything I had, could not have done any better, and carded a 96.

This way I can come home and say I shot a 107 and had a great time.

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And luckily not be one of those guys out there that takes everything seriously and bitches and moans when things don’t go well. I have had my moments, but overall I’m happy either way.

But that doesn’t make the game any less confusing or frustrating.

PICTURE COURTESY OF THE GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE @greatfallstribune.com

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