The season is over. We players have zipped our suitcases for the last time, at least when it comes to work. After the Epson Tour Championship at LPGA International, we either took off our shoes in the TSA line at Daytona Airport, or fastened the seat belts in our cars before heading home. The last putt has dropped. The final number has been penciled onto an official scorecard. The final period has now been added to our stories for 2022. Whether it’s while we cruise on the highway, hover in the clouds, or hug our loved ones at home, we’re left we now are left with time to reflect on a season of chasing a dream.
If you didn’t secure your tour card or improve your position from the year prior, that leaves a lot to wrestle with - tangled thoughts like balls of yarn in the grip of an energetic cat. Now, we are left with empty time to untangle the cord and neatly sew it into a cohesive product. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to do with these words.
Now, more than two weeks removed from the season finale, the lack of clarity has kept my tired eyes awake at night. I’ve tossed and turned trying to understand what exactly happened, where the time went, and what parts of me are still intact - body and mind?
While the season has concluded, there is more ahead - Q School. Following the Tour Championship, I headed to Jupiter, Florida to prepare for the second stage at the end of November. Florida is where I spent my winter months training for the year, and I hoped returning to the same place would bring some type of closure to an odd season.
At the start of the year, I sat on the beach and wrote a letter to myself to read at the end of this year. I’ve yet to take a peek because I dated it December 31st. However, when I ran to the beach one early morning in Florida and sat on the sand, eyes gazing at the turbulent sea, many of my words came to me. They’re not cohesive. But bits and pieces flowed into my brain like the washed-up debris from Hurricane Ian. I know that in the letter, I referenced the year ahead like the crashing waves I watched that day. I might have said something about learning to withstand the breaks and being ready to ride the perfect one when it came.
While sitting on that beach in February, the water was perfectly clear. It was the beautiful aqua blue that we use as calendar covers and or art on our walls. But this time around, the water roiled musty and dark, leftovers from the Hurricane. It felt symbolic.
To start the year, we are all rested - physically and mentally - which allows us to have a clear vision of how we’d like for things to go. By this time, we’ve encountered big and small waves, wind, rain, some sunny days, and even a storm or two. Thus, we are a little bit like the mucky water washing up on the beach.
February Brynn swam through the waves waiting for the perfect swell to ride. The one that would make wrestling against the current and waves well worth it. I’d ride it with my pearly whites shining on the ocean floor. That’s the moment I was out to find throughout the season. Looking back now, I think I had it all wrong.
It’s not about the quick adrenaline ride when you finally find the perfect wave. It’s about the strength built through the wrestling in between - the times treading water when your legs are getting weak or learning to hold your breath longer while you wait for the next big wave to pass. When you’re tired and weak you need to know how to float, to let go of tension and rest. Let the waves push you where you're supposed to end up and swim again when you’re rested.
This year I had a lot of waves. The biggest one came in the form of an injury and the ripple effect it created.
I’m stronger now for the treading and all the new ways I learned to swim. But I never caught and rode that wave. That’s still ahead for me. It’s my hope that all of this wrestling has made me stronger and better equipped for when it comes.
But, as I stare out at the ocean, the lesson is right before me. The waves keep coming. One crashes and then an undertow pulls away what it had just tossed ashore. There’s a momentary calm and then another wave hits. A storm builds on the horizon, tall and dark. It might not hit tonight, but someday it will, as surely as a sunrise.
The lesson of the year is who we became in the storm, who we were in the sunshine, and how we behaved in the rain. We flexed new muscles as we fought through this year. That, as always, is the victory before the victory.
That’s golf. And that’s life too.