The other day, feeling immortal, I played 69 holes in one day, almost four times around a very sturdy golf course in Connecticut—for charity. I played as a twosome, that is, I played two balls on every hole. One was white, one was yellow. I played ready golf. If, for example, the white ball made 4 on the hole before and the yellow ball made 5, but I pulled the yellow ball out of my pocket first, I went ahead and hit it. That worked. Here’s what else I learned.
When you make it a point to “save yourself” for all those shots and swing at a 3/4 effort to avoid serious injury, your ball-striking improves. Shots are more solid, and longer. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. But knowing it and experiencing it are two different things. I don’t know one amateur golfer who swings within himself like this. (OK, maybe my friend Friedman, but he went to Harvard.) Most of us flail as hard as we can. Before the marathon when I thought I was swinging easy I was only thinking easy but swinging hard. When I said, “OK, I’ll just bunt it,” it worked!
Most people waste a lifetime on the green. None of the eight golfers who played in this thing marked their golf ball after reaching the green. Most never removed the flagstick. One guy made 19 birdies that way. Evidence enough that marking, cleaning, and lining up the logo of your golf ball is nearly pointless. If you just enjoy the ritual, fine, but don’t get more involved in your routine than you are in the target. Removing the pin, well, that’s a rule—but one we could do without. I’m just saying.
When you hit some 660 shots over the course of 11 hours, as we did, you don’t fall in love with any of them. You also don’t despair over any of them. Normally, I develop an extended relationship with shots. I talk to them. I introduce them to other people. I’m grateful for them or resentful of them. When there’s no time for such bonding, they’re simply shots. Very freeing. And I think they treat you better, too.