I grew up playing golf, but inadvertently fell out of the game due to work and other priorities. I‘d been longing to get back into the game, but kept procrastinating. So, when my friend Ben asked me to join him for 9 holes to celebrate his 40th birthday at Glen Oaks, I thought… here’s my chance! (LESSON #1: yes = adventure)
At first, I was intimidated and hesitant to have my first round in 8 years be at a fancy country club. I mean, I didn’t even have golf clothes, a glove, or shoes anymore, but I figured this would be a great way to dive in head first and get back out there. So, I quickly went shopping and got a few practice swings in at the driving range. (LESSON #2: now > later)
This caffeinated contribution was written by Derek Brooks. Derek is a 40.79 year old midwestern American dude who enjoys building, traveling, partying, extremish sports, and can be found in our Roasted Reflections group on Discord.
On Ben’s birthday, I showed up to find him sipping on a Miami Vice cocktail with his buddy and business partner, Sinclair. This immediately set the stage that we were going to have some fun. Golfing with Ben was awesome. Whether it was his general demeanor, his lack of grabbing a scorecard, the way we strolled around the clubhouse, or laughs along the way, this freshly minted 40 year old was a constant reminder that we were here to relax. (LESSON #3: fun > serious)
For the first 5 holes on the back 9, my subconscious nerves were getting in the way. My hits weren’t clean and the strong winds certainly weren’t helping… But despite all the double bogeys, I was still having fun and it felt great being back on the course. (LESSON #4: fun + humility + patience = growth)
Halfway through the round, I could feel the groove coming back. On hole 15, I finally snagged my first par (Ben caught a birdie, haha). After that, we walked up to Hole 16, a 168-yard par 3, with wind in our face. Feeling incredibly relaxed, I lined up with my 7-iron and hit a super clean shot. It felt great and looked even better. The ball dropped just short and left of the pin, took 2 small hops, and then smoothly rolled right into the hole. A freakin hole-in-one. (LESSON #5: openness + growth + serendipity = opportunity)
I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Ben and I started screaming and laughing as we ran around the tee box. We full-on bear hugged and I think he even picked me up at one point. Neither of us knew what to do or how to act, so I just threw my gold chain on and giggled while Ben pulled out his GoPro to capture the moment.
After that ace, the next hole was a complete blur, but I ended the round with a birdie on 18. If I hadn’t set my nerves/ego aside and took that opportunity to get back into the game by having my first round in 8 years at an intimidating country club, I’d still be in that procrastination loop. I would’ve never gotten my first hole-in-one or shared this incredible experience on Ben’s 40th birthday. (LESSON #6: yes + growth = celebrate)
When I think about this experience through the lens of my career as a technologist, I’m reminded that getting in over-my-head has always been the fastest way for me to grow and move forward. I’m not expecting to be cranking out hole-in-ones from here, but once again, jumping back in head first is something that I will never regret. This memorable day was the reminder I needed to push outside comfort zones, enjoy the moments, and celebrate always.