By: Alex Oh
Over the past couple of years, nothing has captured my interest or taken up as much time in my life as golf. It’s a sport that I’ve grown to appreciate the more time I have invested into it. In fact, in certain periods of my life, it was the only thing on my mind, sometimes to the detriment of school and my academic life. Because of this, when the COVID pandemic recently hit the U.S. and forced our government to issue a widespread self-quarantine, thus eliminating any chance of going out to the golf course, I was devastated. Of course, there were much more important things to worry about, but at that moment, all I could think about was how boring the summer would be without golf. Fortunately, a few months later, Governor Gavin Newsom eased quarantine restrictions and allowed golf courses, along with other facilities, to be reopened. I was ecstatic.
The first time I returned to the golf course was somewhere around late May with my dad. We agreed upon playing at Oakmont. When we arrived at the course, my body was pumping with energy. The fresh bunkers, the smooth greens, the impeccable fairways. I was ready to tackle them all. Until I wasn’t. When I stepped on the tee, all that pent-up excitement quickly transformed into nervousness. How would I hit? Would it go left? Right? Fairway? Bunker? Why are there so many people watching me? Suddenly, the fairway seemed much narrower. After what seemed like an eternity of shaking, I did the only thing I knew. I closed my eyes and swung. In the brief darkness, I heard a tink. When I opened my eyes, the ball was nowhere to be seen. Slowly, I turned to my dad. “Where did it go?” I nervously sputtered. “Left,” he said. “Way left. You should re-tee.” Embarrassed, I trudged over to my bag to fetch another ball. After placing that ball on the tee, my only thought was to not hit left, which as many golfers know, is a mental hazard on the course. The result was a shot bolting to the right. Luckily, the ball found its way to the 18th hole. Still embarrassed and wanting to avoid eye contact as much as possible, I quickly picked up my bag and speedily walked to my ball on the other fairway.
The next hole was not much better. I rolled my drive a measly 50 yards into the fairway and chunked a 4 iron, splashing dirt all over my face and leaving a bitter taste in my mouth for the rest of the round. Then, blinded by a feeling of helplessness and frustration, I proceeded to chunk another shot and three-putt on the green. Suddenly, all that nervousness turned into anger. Ignoring the fact that my dad was still putting on the green, I stormed up to the tee box on the 3rd hole, a difficult par-3, and walloped a 7 iron. The ball softly landed next to the pin. Maybe playing angry was better, I briefly thought to myself. That could not have been further from the truth. After receiving a scolding from my dad about etiquette and dragging myself to the green on the 3rd hole where my ball rested next to the pin, I rammed my putt 6 feet by and left the green with another dreaded 3 putt. The rest of the round was not much different. By the end of the round, I was left moodier than ever.
When we walked back to the parking lot, I could see my dad’s worn out expression. Instead of scolding me for my bad play, which was what I was expecting, he just sighed. It was then that I realized what I had failed to grasp the entire round. It wasn’t my game that was the problem, it was my attitude. I had allowed my emotions and unrealistic expectations to ruin the afternoon with my dad. Instead of laughing the bad shots off, like I should have done, I chose to carry over my frustration to the next shot and even worse, take my anger out on my dad. I immediately felt ashamed. When we arrived back home, my dad went straight to his room, leaving me alone in the living room to reflect on my behavior. While the rest of the evening in the Oh household was spent in silence, I had learned a valuable lesson that day.