Last night someone threw this quote at me: "No growth in the comfort zone.".
And, well, it bothered me.
My argument being that sometimes knowing your zone, or being in your lane, is where courage can be developed rather than stepping out of it for the "hope" that you might find success by taking risks.
Then my mind went to the Masters (and why wouldn't it?!)....two golfers, with two very different golf stories, but both owning the coveted Green Jacket.
It's hard for me not to think about Phil Mickelson and the Masters. With 3 Green Jackets in his closet (2004, 2006, & 2010) when you think of Phil and Augusta National I'm guessing it won't take long to think about 2010, #13, and the shot out of the pine straw that led to an eagle and a Saturday run that ultimately led to a 2-shot victory over Lee Westwood. Want to see it again? Sure you do!
Heck, when you think about Phil, it's almost automatic that your brain thinks of shots that no one else would pull off. He's the ledge walker on the golf course and while it's always fun to tell his tales of flop shots and eagles, we find out that's not the only way to win a Green Jacket.
The headline in Golfweek Magazine in 2007 was, "2007 Masters: Unknown Zach Johnson wins the Masters"
It's funny for me to read now, since Zach is a 12 time PGA Tour winner with 2 Majors, 5 Ryder Cup appearances, and 4 President's Cup qualifications. But back then, with 2 wins on the Nationwide Tour and one PGA Tour win in 2004, it wasn't like Zach Johnson was on anyone's radar to take home a Green Jacket...especially when Augusta National is known to favor the long hitters.
In 2007, Zach Johnson's driving average at Augusta was 265 yards...according to the Golfweek article, there were only 3 other players in the field to make the cut with a lower average, and 2 of those were Seniors. So how in the world would an unknown from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, find himself in Butler Cabin, accepting a new addition to his wardrobe on April 14, 2007?
He had the courage to play in his zone.
I think a statistic that most folks who love golf will remember about this Masters and about Zach is that he never went for any par-5 in 2...and over 4 days he birdied the par-5's 11 out of 16 attempts. He assessed his talents, he knew what he was good at (hello short game!), and while just about everyone else was taking chances in the hopes for an eagle, Zach rose to the occasion and let his strengths do the talking instead.
While some may argue that in order to win the Masters you have to take chances, I think Zach Johnson proved that sometimes staying in your zone instead of reaching out for the unknown,can also lead to the sweet taste of success.
It seems to me there's room for all kinds of growth in the comfort zone - honing skills and using the talents and gifts already acquired creates a level of confidence and courage to strategically assess what it takes to find success. It doesn't have to be about risk taking or "being uncomfortable".
Sometimes it can be about practice, patience, and playing to your strengths....in golf and in life. Enjoy the comfort zone!
October in Minnesota...for some, this time of year is when you're trying to get those last rounds in before the snow blankets the fairways, and, for others, golf season was buttoned up not long after kids go back to school and the sun sets not long after dinner
This October, for me anyway, has a different meaning. One of my favorite golfing pals unexpectedly passed away this weekend and I'm hoping that remembering him here, now, will help fill the hole in my heart.
While I'll battle tears as I write, I'm already smiling thinking about Butch. I met him when I worked at our local course in the mid 90's. He would drive up in his sea green Ford Probe and often times play golf alone in the afternoons. A few times back then I played with him...I'll be honest - he intimidated me...he was quiet, but also direct...and a good golfer. But he always welcomed me to play along if I could find a few free hours.
Butch was a great supporter of the course and our little restaurant. I remember one year, at the end of the season, we were trying to get rid of our last inventory and he bought bread and lunch meat, even though he probably didn't need it. That's who he was.
I got to know him a lot better after being invited into the most exclusive foursome I knew...after our friend Looper passed away I was invited to be the new 4th with Butch, Coach, and Super. I cried then, too, when they asked me - filling Looper's shoes was a big ask, but I've never felt more welcome or included. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Playing with these three, I learned a lot about golf games...and negotiations. I swear, it may have been more fun for them than the actual golf!! The trash talking was relentless and often there would be fake pity for injuries or lack of playing. Butch was classic for reminding us all that he NEVER got to play...he may not even know where his clubs are or maybe they were sold in a rummage sale. But miraculously he would show up, early of course, and the smooth swing was right there, too.
For the record, I was never part of the negotiations...my partner, Super, was well, a master. Watching Coach and Butch put together their offers together was fantastic - and while Butch might appear intimidating, he was always the one who would end up caving in to Super's offers and Coach would just shake his head. It was hilarious.
I found some old emails that summed up our group...2011:
Butch: "Good for me I'll pick up everybody, we'll figure out a time, do we have time for range to warm up? I say we get there about 6:30am"
Super: "Warm up- What is that?"
Coach: "Butch, Please don’t respond to their e-mails…I don’t want you to agree to any negotiations they may throw out there."
Super: "Why does it have to turn adversary before we start. Can’t we all just get along."
Butch: "I say we get a couple a side...we go to Lutsen we win, we go to Fortune Bay we win...looks like this is our last time to Giants Ridge... In a few years there'll be no where else they can try"
Me: "Partner, Just an FYI - Butch was knocking the "low round ever on the Lake 9" door when we played last week. I on the other hand took a quad and triple in my round last week at Enger."
Butch: "Double, double, double, bogey finish, golf is an 18 hole game & I have 18 holes in in 2011"
Super: "May I suggest we meet in the Lakeview National parking lot at 6:15 AM or is Butch picking us up at our houses so Coach is not late? Negotiating can NOT start until 7:00 AM"
Butch: "I will pick my partner up at his house at 6am, the opponents don't get the premium service
In 12 hours the fun begins:"
I love this. So much.
For the record...I'm pretty sure Super and I won that year!! I distinctly remember hitting a drive left into some trees and it kicked right out into the middle of the fairway - I knew it was Looper helping me out!!
In the past couple of years, schedules and health issues did make us miss playing together - but Butch played with us last year in a football fundraiser - it was some of the worst rain I'd ever golfed in, but we had a blast!!
I'm heartbroken that we didn't have one more time...one more time to see that smooth swing, that putting stroke (his putting stroke was a little Steve Striker like!), his walk...which at times looked like he was stiff as a board, and his smile.
I will smile more when I think of him, after the shock of this wears off...and I'll remember that being together is what matters...I'm beyond blessed for the times we golfed, talked, laughed, and appreciated life and our friendships.
I will leave with this...from 2013 as we are trying to find a date to play. From Butch to me:
"I'll believe it when I see it. "Your partner" is so full of hot air, I can't stand it!
I'll play anytime, anywhere.
Well not really but I'm all for playing. Remember I played a total of 3 rounds in 2012. Rusty does not begin to describe..."
I'll miss you forever.
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!