A Competitive Spirit

I’m competitive. No, that’s not quite right. I’m really competitive. I didn’t start out that way.

I’ve participated in athletic activities of one sort or another my entire life. My early years were consumed with baseball, football, and basketball with neighborhood kids. As I got older the sports I chose changed—baseball evolved into softball, football became a spectator sport, and I found basketball less than appealing when not played by just my friends and me at the hoop next door. Early in adulthood I was introduced to golf, and participated sporadically for decades. I played softball well into my fifties.

The Vineyard #5 green

During all that time there was only one constant—I was competing against myself. Whether I won or lost didn’t matter as long as I played the game to the best of my ability that day. About eight years ago I began to take golf very seriously. I joined leagues that offered competitive opportunities. I continued my detached, I’m playing against myself, attitude that kept me from viewing my fellow competitors as anything other than friends with whom I was playing an enjoyable round.

I can’t pinpoint the moment when my competitive juices changed from being very general to having a specific target. I noticed it recently when playing in my club championship with the woman who was leading after the first round. I was determined that my second round score would be better than hers, and since we were in the same group I knew exactly what she was shooting. She had an off-day; I beat her by 8 strokes! Then I was two strokes behind the new leader heading into the final round. We rode in the same cart so I knew exactly what I had to do throughout the round. As it turned out, she played better than I did. I never caught her, and I’m OK with that because she’s my friend.

Competing directly against other golfers adds a dimension to my game. My fear is that I’ll develop a “win at all costs” attitude which will lose friends and make the game less enjoyable. The fact is I like the new balance. But if you see me getting cranky on the course you have my permission to tell me to get over myself.

It’s been a busy golf tournament season. My last of the year, the Metropolitan Senior Women’s Championship, is next week. I’ll post a recap of my Summer tournaments after.