I’m writing this at a slightly odd time, because for possibly the first time in my career I’m not entirely sure this applies to me right now. Due to a variety of “golf-is-complicated” reasons, I’m having to be ok with resetting my expectations a little bit. Which, ironically, might be the thing that re-opens my window. But probably not if I give that thought oxygen. (The beautiful psychology of thinking too much hey?).
Anyway. The window.
Having to consciously shut mine a little has made me appreciate what it truly is. For professional golfers, I think it’s the Thursday moment.
That pause – in between making sure your golf balls are marked and you have enough tees in your pocket and you’ve double checked the wind direction – before you’re announced on the first tee. (Ok we don’t always start on Thursdays or on the first tee, but it works better for effect). The moment when you catch your breath and all the reasons you came into this sport wash over you with a quiet, calm adrenaline. The moment before whatever degree of chaos this week has in store for you ensues. When all the preparation – be it a reassuring blend of quality ball striking and golf course familiarity, or an anxious blend of golf-swing searching and golf course intimidation – is done. Ready or not, there’s no more you can do.
In that moment, there’s a pause of pure, clear, possibility. In that moment, it doesn’t matter what’s come before. The intensity of that might affect how big your window is, but it’ll still be ajar. You can still see through it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the first event of the season or the last.
It doesn’t matter if you were supposed to be standing here two hours ago but sideways sheets of torrential rain pushed back your tee time.
It doesn’t matter if you’re coming off the back of five consecutive missed cuts that have made you question both your job status and your definition of self-worth.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent Monday through to ten minutes ago trying with an ever-increasing panicked desperation to find a shot with your driver.
It doesn’t matter if you’re defending champion.
It doesn’t matter if once upon a time you were European number one, but you haven’t won a tournament in ten years.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve played 477 events without winning.
I’ve stood in that moment and proceeded to hit two balls OB. I’ve also stood in that moment and gone on to win. The feeling doesn’t change. (Apart from when you have to walk back to the tee for a third time).
Whether you’re riding a tidal wave of seemingly unbreakable self-confidence and trust, or struggling to stay afloat in a current of unanswerable questions and doubts – that window is always there on a Thursday. The window of hope – that this moment is yours; this week is your week. That possibility is what keeps us all coming back.