We were 123 yards out on the short par 4 13th. The ground was soaked from a tremendous thunderstorm the night before. ESPN cameras were everywhere. It was the final round of PGA Tour event The 84 Lumber Classic, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I found myself on the bag of friend and pro golfer @ryanmoorepga. We started out the 4th round in the final group, tied with the lead, and were coming down the last stretch of holes aiming for his first PGA victory. I was quite out of my league, having little golf experience, especially at that level. But where I lacked in experience, I was full of enthusiasm, stoke, and at that moment, adrenaline. Good thing I was simply carrying the bag and shouting numbers.
There was a giant piece of mud under the ball as it rested there, waiting to be hit up onto the green for a hopeful birdie putt. Though it rained buckets overnight, the tournament disallowed “Lift, Clean and Place”, a rule that allows a golfer to mark a ball in the fairway, clean it, and place it back. We had no choice but to play as it lied. A chunk of mud like that adds a lot of weight, no doubt. But it’s really a guess.
The ball took off like a rocket. No, a ballistic missile. It traveled nearly 165 yards and all we saw was that fateful splash from over the green. Stunned. At first, I thought I gave the wrong club. We realized the mud, slightly hidden under the ball, was way more than we had hoped. We ended up with a double bogey, and didn’t have enough holes to make up the difference. A 6th place finish on the Tour is nothing to balk at. But we smelled victory. We never saw that coming. Nor could we have guessed what the ball would have done. The rule shoulda been in place but it wasn’t.
It felt like the most potent of failures. To have that momentum, be that close, and then to crash that hard. We didn’t do anything wrong. So many of my “failures” have been like that – I didn’t actually fail at anything. Circumstances simply didn’t allow THAT success. Yet I still identify as a failure in those moments. Why? I want it my way. But I need to trust God’s way is MUCH better. Because it is. Always. But trust means giving up control. 😬⛳️
Location: Chambers Bay