Without throwing down every famous one-liner from Happy Gilmore, a great piece of advice is to mentally escape to your “happy place” or safe haven, when on the golf course; especially during the heat of competition. This will help calm your nerves, ease your mind, and fill you with positive thoughts and energy. But I’ll do you one better; make the golf course your happy place. A place that lets you forget all your worries. A place where you leave your negative thoughts in the same spot you changed your shoes……your trunk. Sometimes there’s nothing better than an hour range session, or an evening nine holes with just you and your sticks. It allows yourself some time for self-reflection, to clear your thoughts, and with one big exhale…….to leave your world behind for a bit. 

Golf is difficult enough. But to try and play your best while being weighed down by an argument with your spouse, a bad grade on a paper, or a failed project at work can be exhausting and will suck the fun right out of a round, guaranteed. These are all mundane, day-to-day lows of life we deal with every day. Last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic champion, Nate Lashley, had to find inner peace on the golf course to escape a tragedy that you wouldn’t wish upon your greatest enemy. 

Lashley entered the week as the 356th player in the world, and got a spot in the field as the last alternate. He opened with a 63, and his sister Brooke said “I better get there.” She is the only one that can fathom the sadness that Nate shares and goes through every day. In May 2004, their parents Rod and Char, and Nate’s girlfriend Leslie were killed in a plane crash. Rod was a pilot and owned a single- engine plane that they all flew in to see Nate play in the NCAA Regionals in Nebraska. They were on their way home when the crash occurred just over Wyoming.

Nate was offered to take time off from school and the golf program at the University of Arizona countless times, and countless times he declined. Just months after the crash he returned to his golf team, played, went to class, and got his degree. After graduation, he turned pro. And that’s when the oh-so popular mini tour journey began. From 2006 – 2016 Lashley won on the Egolf, Gateway, Dakotas, and Lationamerica tours, and in 2017 he broke through and captured the 2017 Corales Puntacana Resort Open on the Korn Ferry Tour (web.com). 

“I’ve been through a lot and it took years for me to get over the crash. I think about them every day, and without my parents, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. So that’s what I did…I played golf; and kept playing.” Winning on Sunday didn’t change Nate Lashley’s life. No, sadly you can’t change the past. But his 6-shot win did change his future; which is what he has focused on the last 14 years; his future. 

A bad round of golf is never as bad as it seems, and is never as tragic as we make it seem. Life is full of heartbreaks and disappointments. Make golf be your happy place. Make the course be your distraction from the world. Make time to go to your favorite course with your favorite people, or sometimes with just you. Forget the bad shots and enjoy the good ones. Everyone is going through something, dealing with something; and 9 times out of 10, it is more than just that pesky 5 footer.

Enjoy the game and each other,

Written by Seth Zipay, Head Golf Professional
Published by Craig Walton