I don’t think I’ve ever identified more strongly with a professional athlete than my current infatuation with Kevin Na. Not that I want to be like him. I’d rather have Rory’s swing, Lefty’s short game or Kuchar’s demeanor. And it’s not like I’ve been following the guy for that long. He only hit my radar screen last year when he posted a score of 16 on a hole.
No, the whole point is that I am too much like him in these two respects: I also have a hard time pulling the trigger on a shot and I also hate that this is the case. It’s this second point that a lot of people seem incapable of understanding. I would love to be the type of player who simply strolls up to his ball, addresses it and then just swings. God, that would be awesome. And I know that Kevin feels the same way.
But, for whatever reason, we can’t. And it’s not that we’re callous, inconsiderate sorts who are oblivious to our pace of play. No, the problem is compounded by the exact opposite reaction: we know that we’re slowing things up for everybody else and that thought only increases our tension, leading to yet another set of spasms masquerading as waggles and further shuffling and adjustment. We don’t want to be slow, but paradoxically that only exacerbates the problem.
I know there are many of you out there who just don’t see what the big deal is here. Your prescription is pretty simple: Just hit the fucking ball. And believe me I think that would be a great thing to be able to do. But for better or worse, when golfing I have to use the same mind that I put to work in the other parts of my life. And I have prospered and, if I dare say so myself, have shown myself to be an interesting and sometimes amusing friend and companion, precisely because my mind likes to meander around a topic, taking stock of different perspectives, evaluating the alternatives and considering the consequences.
I also grew up in a household where mistakes were viewed not as learning opportunities but as minor, or even potentially major, catastrophes. So, yeah, I get tense out there on the course. I know it’s crazy, but that’s just who I am.
So what are you pace of play zealots going to do about it? Arrest me? I have a question for those of you who advise zero tolerance for slow play: do you tell people with speech impediments to just “spit it out?” It’s sort of the same thing.
So I’m going to be watching this afternoon, cheering on My Man the Na. I want to see him back off an approach shot a couple times and then nail it. I want to see him waggle, half waggle, pause, waggle, half waggle, pause, waggle, half waggle and then stripe it. I want to see him twitch almost to the point of decomposing into a pile of protoplasm on the 17th tee and then almost jar it.
I want to see him win. And then I want something else for him. I want him to get over all of this. Just like I do.