I’m not really sure if what I’m learning is correct or not. Sure it makes sense, logically, but it doesn’t feel right. I was filmed numerous times and told there are a lot of great things in my swing, but a few major things I need to work on. The first two days I worked with a lady, Annie, who was on The Big Break in Mexico, a show filled with contests on golf courses all over the world. She’s awesome and very patient. She stands there, ball after ball, telling me what was wrong. Every day she has given me something new to work on, which I’m excited about. But I’m not sure what my swing is supposed to look like. I’m not sure if I’m even going to know that by next Friday. I’m worried because I cannot swing without feeling embarrassed. Every ball barely lifts off the ground. They keep telling me it will eventually get there, but when I try my old swing, it’s completely worse than when I showed up. The three girls in the Academy tell me everyday that the only way I can get a lot out of the program is to be here for a few months. They have all been here since September, and have improved dramatically. It’s making me want to come for a long period of time. I keep thinking about next year and how I want to be a much better player, but I’m not sure if that is realistic. There are many post graduates here, and they play in tournaments every weekend and get lessons and instruction during the week. They have been encouraging me to come next year. I’m really interested, even though I’m accepted into college!

Because I’ve been really frustrated and worried I‘m not getting enough instruction, I’ve been pushing myself to play as much as I can. My parents paid a lot a lot of money for me to come here but I’m not sure if I’m getting my money’s worth. I wouldn’t say it is a waste but I wish I was getting more out of it. The director of the Academy told me the most I will get out of my two weeks here is a workout plan done by Atay, a Turkish trainer, pro golfer, and gymnast. He assessed me on Tuesday and was shocked that I had to work on so many things. By Thursday he made me a four-page workout plan. He taught me all of the exercises and told me I had to get a trainer when I got home to help me. It made me really worried. I’m not sure if I can even improve my swing if I don’t fix those things first.

Through all the tiredness and frustration, I still managed to have a great day today. It was my first day off, and we drove two hours to the beach. It was so nice to get away from golf clothes and bad tan lines. I laid out on the beach for the whole day and it let me think about what I really want to get out of golf in the next few years. It made me feel more confident and even though I’m nervous to start playing again tomorrow, I’m more relaxed.

I’ll let you know if my experience gets any better next week!

Just Ignore The Girls

“To the window, to the wall, sweat drips…” This inappropriate song blasts through the van as I wonder what differences these 19-year-old boys have compared to the 15-year-old boys on Westtown’s golf team. None. The loud jokes and rude remarks circle through the van as if a tornado was coming through. I want to join in and tell them to shut up, but I cannot. I don’t know anyone. I’m being ignored and no one wants to know who I am, where I’m from, or what I’m doing at the Academy. All I think of is how nervous I’m going to be once we get out of the van. Ahhh.

We approach the putting green as we watch three master pros teach us the proper technique of putting. “Now guys, you can’t always be worried about the exact technique. It’s about feeling. It’s about your ability to feel what’s comfortable and what’s not. Don’t get so caught up in the perfect put. If you keep thinking the ball has to go in, it will not. If you keep telling yourself to get it close so your next putt can be accurate, it’s going to go in.” I like this guy already. This makes sense. I’m beginning to feel better about this all. I think I can really learn something,

“Okay, I have a drill for you all” the next coach says. He proceeds to make a medium-sized box around a hole with white string. Hitting 25 feet away, the player to make it in the box is the winner. Or let’s say, the people who don’t make it in the box start to lose their ego. One by one each of the 12 boys hit. Nicole, a junior from Canada, and I, are never called. Just ignore the girls, like usual, I say to myself, worried I had said it out loud. “Casey, looks like you’re up” Lyndon, another coach says. Yikes. No one has made it in the box so far, so there’s no way I can. Why try? If they cannot get it in that small box and have been at this academy since August, there’s no reason to try. I try to shake off my nerves and step up to a ball lying on the green. Here we go. It seems like all 15 of them are staring.

“Looks like it takes a girl to get the work done around here” says Lyndon. I look up. My ball is just off the box about 2 inches. I’m closest to the hole. I try not to smile. It’s either a fluke or I’m getting a bit better. One boy, with small glasses and filled with freckles, stares at me. “Great putt” he murmurs. Those two words may have just saved me.

Explode Up!

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated.  The awkward silence fills the cubby of the indoor golf site I get lessons from in the winter. “John, I can’t do it. My club decelerates when I hit impact. I don’t know what else to do”. My nervousness begins to greaten when I realize I have a week left until I leave for the academy. “Casey, I don’t know what to tell you right now. Let’s try squatting, without pushing your right knee out, and when you hit impact you’re going to explode up, quick, and with strength”. He proceeds to hold my body down while I try squatting lower and lower. “Now, explode up!” he says. I push upwards as hard as I can but I seem to be stuck in the same position. “See? I can’t get my body up like that. And if I do, my club seems to get stuck right when I’m striking the ball”, I say. John looks unhappy with me, but it may be he’s just unhappy with his teaching. I cannot tell.

When John makes a certain look, with his hand over his chin and a confused gaze in his eyes, I know that he’s thinking. Every lesson I see this look and it makes me worry. Does he really not know how to help me? I think to myself. This time, he turns to me and tells me that I cannot get any more power from my arms, and that my legs and thighs is where the rest of my power now needs to come from. “Alright”, I say, with sweat dripping down the side of my cheek that could be easily mistaken as a tear. Wait, was it a tear?

“Casey I know you are mad at me. I know this is hard, but you’re going to have to do it. There’s no possible way you can get enough power and hit long enough with your swing now. Do you understand that?” he proceeds to tell me. A small pause. I try to bring myself together so I don’t start crying. Why is this all happening to me now? Why didn’t he tell me this earlier? “I do, I’m just. I’m just not sure how to fix it. I understand the whole exploding thing but it seems to weigh me down, so that the club cannot swing fast. It feels as if it’s stuck” I finally am able to say. “I guess I get that,” he says. “But how de we fix it?” he asks again. Another small pause. By this time it’s 5:20. I was supposed to be done 20 minutes ago. Doesn’t he have another lesson? When can I leave? “John, this just isn’t fun. I hate this” I continue to say to my coach. “You will be fine Casey, you will be fine” he says. He finally dismisses me from the lesson and I slowly walk to my car, thinking to myself: I hate this. I just hate this.

We can do this John, we can do this.

“You have to call me once you get there, please. I’m worried they will screw up your swing,” says John, my golf coach. “I don’t think they can do any harm, really. It’s not like I’m going to show up and completely forget about everything I learned these past four years”, I say, “it should be fun! I’m not going to lie though, I’m super nervous”. “Casey,” John goes on to say “I want you to be prepared to be let down. You need to understand these players are playing in every top Division 1 college. They will beat you. And they won’t feel sorry for you. This will be one of the biggest challenges you will have to face. But remember, this isn’t for them. This is for you. This is for you to improve in ways you never thought you could before. No one cares if you have a bad shot. Just think about you and how you want to succeed”.

John, a man with a past career of Division 1 tennis and music, is one of the most encouraging coaches I have ever met. He is always early, stays after hours in the dark, tells me how bad I am at times, yet shows me how I can win a match, in the most difficult sport I have ever played, golf. He is always positive, telling me and his other students, that we can achieve what ever we set our minds to. He is always smiling, always rubbing and making jokes about his big belly, and always a father figure to us all.

“Kid, you hit the ball as hard as my grandma does, and she’s dead”. These comments are shot my way during every practice. “Yo, you hit like a girl. When are you going to start lifting weights, like I tell you every time you come to me?” he says. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I’m so busy. I’ve been trying my best” I say. “Well, obviously your best is not enough!” says my coach.

This makes me nervous. How am I going to survive two weeks at a golf school? TWO WEEKS?! I will most likely be the only girl and I will have to play with boys everyday on the course. Why didn’t my mom let me get out of this earlier? How far will I get until I break down in a panic attack? “Case, I understand how much anxiety you have. But that’s a good thing. If you didn’t have any worries, than there would be no reason to do this clinic. It will be rough, but you can do it. I have yet to have any doubts,” John tells me. If John thinks I can do it, then I think I can. He knows all. He is god of golf for me. Yes, John, I can do it. I’m doing it for not only me, but for you too. You will not be there but we are in this together. Every stroke, every pitch, every putt, I will follow your suggestions, tips, and advice. I will take a practice swing first, every motion identical to the way you taught me. We can do this John, we can do this.