It’s easy to be jealous on the golf course. For those who play a lot, it’s basically second nature.
So often in this fickle game we are left short of our desires, trumped by another guy in the foursome or another lady in that week’s women’s day event.
Maybe his card has a circle on it and yours has too many squares. Maybe that one good hole out of 18 earned her a bunch of skins and the loot of the day. Jealousy is built into the competitive format. Each hole embraces the ultimate goal of par, with plenty of humbling, layered outcomes beneath that.
Jealousy can strike outside of simple competition throughout an 18-hole round. One of my best friends beat me on our ultra-competitive trek to breaking 80. The same guy also holed out for eagle before I ever had, and he’ll surely card an ace someday, many rounds before I ever do.
Jealousy’s cousin is envy, one of the seven deadly sins, and sounds counter-intuitive for a game centered on silent self-control. I’m preaching it, though. Get jealous. Get really jealous.
Get jealous of Phil Mickelson’s short game and vow to fashion yours the same way. Get jealous of the local club pro’s consistency off the tee and toil on the driving range until you’ve got your go-to shot.
Maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you’re the player in the foursome that everyone is secretly jealous of.
Well, as you stick your approach for a fourth consecutive green in regulation and trot towards the short grass, staring down your ensuing 15-foot birdie putt, relish that cutthroat silent treatment from the rest of the group. Feed off it.
If everyone is jealous of you, get jealous on a microscopic level to bring one lacking part of your game to a previously unmatched height. Let this jealousy shine not in your competitive fire during a match, but in the willingness to experiment and become a better golfer.
Maybe it’s an extra lesson from your teacher, or possibly a lesson from a new teacher. Maybe it’s walking to the range with two things in hand: a pitching wedge and a box of Band-Aids as body armor when those blisters ooze and bleed, begging for perfection.
All your inner-golf desires are asking for is an ounce or two more of devotion, and Mother Nature is only offering a few more opportunities in 2015 to claim some of their magic. When those things start meandering into your everyday round, that’s when this game peaks in satisfaction. That’s when it becomes addictive, because having fun is one thing. Coupling it with bragging rights is another.
Sean Zak is an assistant editor at GOLF Magazine and Golf.com in New York City, where he has learned that writing about golf is just as difficult as playing it.