Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bless Me Beavers, For I Have Sinned...

By Beaver Golf Contributor: Don Moorhead

As you can tell by the clever title, I have a confession to make. I have an excuse, but still. See, I gave up golf.

I can explain, if you'll just put down those pitchforks and douse the torches for a minute. I've been unemployed. The details are not important, just I was a midlevel marketing guy who suddenly and involuntarily became a former midlevel marketing guy in February of 2009. Come last spring, I had what some would consider an ideal situation, golf-wise. I had nowhere to go during the day, and a golf-obsessed roommate who was also unemployed. We had an impromptu range in the back yard, littering ours and the neighbor's yards with those little foam practice balls. Every week or so, we headed out for 18, or at least a quick 9. My game improved. I was putting pretty well, and I was even hitting it somewhat straight off the tee, believe it or not. I started slow, every round. I'd put a monster number up on 1 or 2, or maybe 3, then settle into a rhythm. The blow-up was weird, but I didn't think too much about it.

Then, in August, it happened. The blow-up became the round. I couldn't hit it straight, couldn't put it anywhere close, and couldn't make a putt if you put a funnel in front of the hole. The range in the back yard was useless. The actual range was a house of horrors.

Took me a while, and a couple of rounds, to figure it out. I wasn't able to let go. The whole time I was out there on the course I was thinking about the $37.50 (or the $59 or the $25) I had paid for the round. Every lost Nike one-piece was another buck down the drain. But it was more than the money. Remember that feeling you had in college, especially around exam week, when you felt like you were never done? You could always spend another hour studying, and any time you spent doing anything else was time taken away from that. Job searching for a living is a lot like that, especially during the day, which coincidentally is also when you play golf, um...mostly. No matter how much you do in a day, you're never done. Granted, that doesn't apply to weekends as much, but do you really think I'm going to ask the wife, who by the way, works 50 hours a week most of the time, to babysit the 5 year old while I go play golf? If you answered yes to that, then you're not married, now, are you?

It's the classic conundrum; when you're working, you have no time to play. Then, when you have time, you a) don't have the money, and b) you really don't have nearly as much time as you think. So, why am I telling you this? Because I'm here to help. Because statistically speaking, somewhere between 9.7% and 11.2% of you are unemployed. And I don't want you to suffer like I suffered. Here's what you do.

1. Make a plan. Your household will need to have a budget anyway, but here's the thing. Include a line item on that budget for golf. It's ballsy, pardon the semi-pun. But now, more than ever, you're going to need to play.

2. You will, however, want to economize. Twilight rates are there for a reason. Don't look down your nose at the local muni, even if you're used to fancier digs. Eat before you play. I would never suggest that you sneak beverages onto a course that prohibits them, but there's a reason those Gatorade bottles fit so well in the side pocket of a carry bag.

3. Don't hide it from your spouse. Bargain if you can, beg if you must, but this is one of those times when you need to be up front. You won't enjoy yourself if you're sneaking around and hiding the scorecard. If you need to get permission, suck it up and get it.

4. This is the most important one. Give yourself permission. Take the time off, just like you would if you were working. Hit the job search hard the day before, and again before you play. You won't feel done, but you'll feel like it's OK to go. It's a well-known fact that most HR professionals take Friday afternoons off. That's not even remotely true, but it was my experience that I rarely got calls on a Friday afternoon. If you just can't stand being out of contact, check your messages at the turn. Not every hole, not every shot, but once.

Do this right, and you'll make it through. The game is an awesome way to put the real world off for a while. It won't be the same, it'll still feel weird. But here's why you have to try. I got a job. And, given the wacky nature of the modern economy, I interviewed on a Thursday, came back for a 2nd on Monday, accepted their offer on Tuesday, and started the following Monday. And a couple of those days in between, it rained. I didn't get a celebratory round in, and now, guess what? I don't have time to play again.


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