The smooth flow of a backswing. The raw power is generated from your core and radiates throughout your body during the downswing. That crisp swoosh of the clubface gently grazing the blades of grass as it transfers all of your power to a small dimpled white ball. A clean follow-through that directs all of your energy outward as your body both sighs relief and tenses with anxiety. All of these little movements lead us to a long stare. The world seems to slow down as you watch all of your efforts fly down the fairway.

If you are a golfer you have probably felt all these feelings before. By no means does it happen with every swing, but we strive for the swing above. If you are of my generation and a golf fan, Tiger Woods was the man we all strived to be. Last week, seeing him take practice swings reminded me of all the little movements that come together to create one perfect sequence. To watch Tiger work his way back to physical health is something special.

Tiger and Me

I struggled with what happened to Tiger. The impact of his injuries on himself and his family brought a tremendous amount of heartbreak to me. The golf community had endless ramifications, but also endless support. Tiger had recently returned to the golfer we all grew up with 20 years ago. With his enthusiasm reignited and drive boundless, it was like I traveled back in time.

Tiger’s comeback followed a stretch where back pain and poor attitude hindered his success. To witness someone who seemed unbeatable, beat himself, was difficult to watch. Hard as it may have been to watch that downward progression, it reminded me that Tiger is human. Though a superhuman folder and competitor, he is still just a man, a father, a husband, and a friend like the rest of us. Sometimes, we forget that when we rip into these professional athletes. We see it from a spectator’s view, often focusing only on how the athlete ruined our game expectations. We look beyond the man.

In watching Tiger (both professionally and personally) and through my struggles and anxieties, I’ve learned that he can, we can, and I can turn the situation around. Tiger slowly began coming back to form. He did what he needed to do to take care of himself. He began to find his love for the game again. I sat back and watched the fire reignite and all come together at the 2019 Masters.

The Return

While this may be a sign that I take sports too seriously, I refuse to ignore the magnitude of what happened that weekend at the 2019 Masters. The Masters was always Tiger’s Major. He did not always win it, but he always struck fear into his competitors if he was sniffing the top of the leaderboard. He was a legend at arguably the most prized event in the golfing world.

In 2019, I watched all four days of competition with each day growing with intensity. He stayed in the mix and looked 20 years younger. By the 11th hole on Sunday, I began to realize the unforgettable sports moment unfolding on the screen. I do not think I sat down for the rest of that round. I hung on every swing, every camera angle, every replay. Then, it happened. He won, claiming victory with a fist pump in the air. The cloud of doubt, stress, anxiety, anger, and every other emotion holding him back from success lifted off him as he lifted his arms to the sky. To see the mental pressure almost physically leave his body was a vision of inspiration, unlike anything I had ever witnessed.

dominating the golf life

I am not afraid to admit that this was the first time I cried over a sporting event. The emotion from witnessing such a memorable sporting moment, as well as the personal emotional comeback, was nothing that could be contained. I could see myself in Tiger at that moment, with the power to succeed against all odds and all doubt. I could see myself with my hands reaching for the sky, running to embrace the people who never lost faith in me. Every step towards them would push the doubt aside. I did not see myself as a golfer though. I saw myself as the man I am today who sometimes struggles with being the person, husband, and father I want to be.

Watch And Learn

Tiger was an example of how we can dominate life. Doubt and anxiety claim our thoughts at one point or another. We all battle the internal voices that hold us back from achieving dreams. Tiger was able to overtake those thoughts and toss them aside, crushing them in that final putt in April of 2019. To say it was inspirational is an understatement.

A golfer’s game is only as good as his mental state. Other sports allow for team comradery, but the primary relationship in golf is between the golfer and his swing. The individual fight in a golfer’s head is often louder than the crowds at a packed stadium. There is no safety net of teammates to make up for missed shot. Golf can be seen as one of the most inspirational and relatable sports in our lives if we pay attention. We must choose to see the story buried in the bunker shots or in the driver hung out to the side by an outstretched arm and slouched shoulders holding up a head yelling fore.

This game is beautiful and this game can tear you down. Appreciate watching 150, or so, professional golfers week in and out take on the challenge of battling the elements, their fears, their doubts, and the outside criticism. Applaud the golfer who still finds joy and pure happiness in the fact that they are living a dream that belongs to them. That is domination, and that is more impressive than Tiger Woods’ illustrious career.

Welcome Back Tiger

As Tiger works his way back to whatever new normal he chooses for himself, I am excited to be along for the ride. I am not excited because I think he is perfect, but rather excited to have his example of how you can work your way back from anything. We often find ourselves in pits feeling trapped for ever, struggling to climb out. If we just slow down, breathe, think clearly, and open our eyes, we just may see the ladder we need right in front of us.

Dominating the golf life
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 11: Tiger Woods of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on November 11, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Sports can be whatever we want them to be. They can simply be a medium for us to feel part of a community. Sports could be an outlet for us to express ourselves, or they could simply be something that fills the silent void in the background. The opportunity for something to have such a large impact on our life if we just choose to see it differently is an opportunity that should not be passed up. Dare to look deeper. Have courage to enact change. Dare to dream and believe that you can achieve that dream. Dominate everything you put your mind to, and you can dominate life.

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Andrew Leduc

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