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Open Letter to the Younger Golfing Me

It is time to turn the harsh flashlight of truth onto myself. As I mature as a golfer, I discovered secrets of the game that I wish I could tell myself 30 years ago. I am brave enough to know that I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to be perfect. So, let me talk to myself like I tend to do as I stride around the golf course on Sunday mornings by myself. Let me talk to that younger Dan in his 15th year walking down the fairway of life.

My dad and I playing Palmas Del Mar in Puerto Rico.

Dear Dan,

Listen up, jackass. Golf is an analogy of life and it will teach you more about yourself than you can know. Here are some swing tips and strategy ideas that will help and maybe teach you how to be better person if you look a little deeper.

To improve you game, sacrifice power for accuracy off the tee box. Losing golf balls to the right off the tee because you swung too hard to keep up with the foursome is a waste. Stroke and distance is a killer when you could have popped a drive 220 yard down the middle.

50 yards and in is where the money is made. The short game saves strokes and should be your focus. Learn to chip, flop, and bump. There is a time and place for each shot and the correct club. A solid short game leads to short putts. Not every chip need to land on the green. Read your chips like a putt.

Play your game and no one else’s. If everyone is hitting a club you don’t hit well, do your own thing. Peer pressure generates penalty strokes.

Bad shots will come and come again. The quicker you forget them, the less power they will have over you. If you can bogey a hole because you lost a ball, that is a victory.

Never play the scorecard. Play the shot in front of you. One at a time. If you get a triple bogey, don’t set your expectations for a birdie on the next hole. If you haven’t birdied all day, what makes you think you will after a bad hole. Instead, set your goal for getting your drive down the middle. Then for a solid iron shot. Then a nice chip or putt. One foot in front of the other and a birdie may come or not.

Golf is a game and not meant to be taken serious. Relax enjoy the day and company you are in even if you are alone. Don’t worry about those Michael Jordan clubs aren’t Ping Eye 2s. It doesn’t matter what club you swing as long as you get the ball to the cup.

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