by Jeff Skinner
As I pulled myself to my computer this morning I was accompanied by a massive thunderstorm. You know the kind where the rain comes down in sheets, thunder shakes the windows and lightning shows you who the real boss is. It was the kind that puts an end to tee times and knocks down your flower beds.
I thought to myself how a storm like this would affect the cleanup crews at The Travelers Championship as this weather was heading in their direction. Then I thought of how Mother Nature always plays along with us on the course. We saw it early in the week at The Travelers when weather warnings sent the players to the safety of the clubhouse and whether it is rain, wind, heat or cold…Mother Nature is always with us.
Then I saw the video of Rory Sabbatini’s ace on the sixteenth yesterday and realized that along with Mother Nature the Golf Gods are always out there with us too. Amazingly, Rory’s ace was the first of his PGA career and he celebrated accordingly. And I have to ask: Is there any ace that isn’t touched by the gentle hands of the Golf Gods?
I am still haunted by the meltdown of Charley Hoffman yesterday. Leading by two with two holes to play, Hoffman’s game which was stellar until the seventeenth tee, suddenly deserted him. We’ve all been there: hitting it great and then reverting back to our “hacker game” faster than you can say “triple bogey.” No matter how many Dr. Bob Rotella books we’ve read or swing fix videos we’ve seen or mental exercises we try nothing can help us at that point. It’s gone and only returns when we stop trying. Those are our inner demons, and they’re always there no matter how we try to suppress them, they are only one poor swing away.
And then I read the story of Melissa Reid and again I realized how we never play alone. Reid plays most of her golf on the Ladies European Tour and we last saw her at the Solheim Cup as she helped Europe to a victory over the Americans. But this was a different week for the young Reid.
Five weeks ago while her parents were visiting her in Germany her mother was killed in an automobile accident. Of course Reid and her family was devastated. There is no easy remedy for the pain and trauma of losing someone before their time. This week in Prague marked Reid’s return to play and a short par putt on the last hole gave her the victory. She had to have played the week with a heavy heart but she certainly wasn’t playing by herself.
“To be honest, I wasn’t that nervous. I think with something like what’s happened to my family and me the last four weeks, nothing really seems that difficult anymore.
“I spoke to my coach when I went back a couple of weeks after and he said to me, ‘I don’t know when it’s going to be, but this will make you a stronger person,’ and my best friends have said that as well, and I honestly think it will.
“It will make me fight and nothing will seem as bad as what I’ve been through, so yeah, I actually felt very calm and I knew I was going to hole the putt on 18.”
“Obviously it’s very special with what the family and stuff has been through the last four weeks, so you know, hopefully, obviously it is good news to the family and will bring a smile on our faces at such a horrible time, so it means a lot,” said Reid.
She’s absolutely right: after you suffer through a tragedy like that, life has a new perspective. What was so important before suddenly seems insignificant. You look at life differently and know what actually matters to you and your family.
Reid may have been walking the fairways with her opponent, caddies, rules officials and fans but surely her mom was there as well.
So many days we carry our thoughts and memories of our lost family and friends with us. But some days they carry us. Sunday was one of those days for Melissa Reid.
Whenever we’re out there on the course as a single, playing real early in the morning dew or hoofing it in the fading, golden sunlight of summer we have to realize that even though we are by ourselves we never play alone.