I’ve been reading Redshirts by John Scalzi lately. I typically don’t read much sci-fi, but I make an exception for Scalzi. Redshirts has nothing to do with golf, but I couldn’t help thinking about my game while reading certain parts.
Without giving away too much to those who might want to read the book, a central feature of the plot is “the Narrative.” Characters are caught up in the Narrative and they suddenly find themselves swept up in an event, behaving in surprising (and damaging) ways, often against their better judgement. Things always end badly, at least for some of them. Discovering the source of the Narrative is a central part of the book.
As I read, I couldn’t help but think about how I sometimes get caught up in a pattern of bad decisions on the course, hitting shots I’m not committed to and that I know aren’t my best choices. I’ll feel compelled to go for the green when I know a lay-up is better, but I feel like I “ought to” go for it. I’ll putt from off the green when I know I can chip better (chipping is one of the best parts of my game), but I can hear the golf gurus saying you should putt whenever you can. I’ll ram a putt at the hole so it won’t be short (never up, never in) when I know that I’m a better die-at-the-hole putter than a run-it-past putter.
It’s like I’m taken over by Scalzi’s Narrative, but there isn’t any outside force driving it. It’s all coming from me. If I can just step away from the running commentary in my head and pay attention to my own game, I play better. Sometimes it takes me a hole or more to figure out I’m getting sucked in, but I’m getting better at catching it early.
I haven’t yet finished Redshirts and don’t know how the plot resolves, but I’m far enough in to see that it involves black holes, time travel, and other things I don’t think apply to my golf game. But the idea of avoiding getting caught up in a story that always ends badly is useful to my game.
Of course, the black hole part of the book might apply. My mood certainly falls into a black hole after a few doubles.