***Editor’s Note/Disclaimer: WARNING! This post contains the “S” word. Read at your own risk. TheGolfChick.com assumes no responsibility for any negative effects that reading this material may have on your game or your life. ***
I’ve been watching the new Golf Channel show called Chasing the Dream, and it’s invoked some unexpected emotions and opinions from me. So much so, that I’m going to blog about it. In case you’re not familiar with the show, I’ll give you, my faithful readers, a brief synopsis. Golf Channel has found two professional golfers, each with a dream to make it in the professional game, and is following them during the 2012 season to see if they can reach their dream.
The two golfers come from vastly different backgrounds, which adds an interesting element to the show. One individual, Chris Anderson, is a former touring professional who even made it to the big show for a few years in the mid 2000′s. He has 3 professional wins, 2 on the Golden State tour, and 1 on the Hogan/Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide/Web.com tour in 2004. According to the show, Chris gave up the game to run his family’s forklift business in 2009, with the new responsibility of raising a young family. After a few years away, the “what if” bug has infected him, and he wants to give it another go. The other golfer, Robbie Biershenk, is a struggling driving range pro with an older brother (Tommy) who’s already made the PGATOUR. Robbie, who calls himself “Shank,” owns a roadside driving range, struggles with failing equipment and mounting bills, and gives the occasional lesson to make ends meet, all while living in the shadow of his brother. (Full disclosure – The word “shank” is a contagious disease to me. His nickname makes me hesitate to even watch the show. For anyone who’s ever had a case of the hosels, broken every club in their bag over their knee while standing on a driving range for hours, bashing ball after ball at a 90 degree right angle, barely able to see through the tears streaming out of their eyes and the blood dripping from their hands, that word needs to be removed from the English language. In fact, even saying that word at the course I grew up on would get you kicked out, and potentially beaten up by the geriatric retired men who felt even more strongly about that word than I do. I will be referring to him as Robbie, and will attempt to not let his truly awful nickname influence my opinion of him or the show.) Robbie feels that to to truly succeed in life, he has to succeed on the PGATOUR.
I’ve been watching this show for 3 or 4 weeks now, since its debut. In all honesty, my initial reaction was anger towards these guys. I had planned, and began writing, a scathing narrative chastising these guys for being ignorant and irresponsible, blindly chasing a dream that so many of us have, but are either too logical or frightened to pursue. And then, I watched another episode, and another…and I started to sympathize with their struggle. Those guys are chasing a dream that so many of us have, but are either too logical or frightened to pursue. Now I have 2 contradictory opinions about their pursuit, and after weeks of internal debate, cannot decide which side of my own argument to take.
Argument #1 – Wide Eyed Optimism
Both Chris and Robbie have a dream. Lots of golfers have the exact same dream, and some of those golfers have considerably more talent. Playing professional golf at an elite level takes more than being able to shoot good scores. Shooting those good scores, on increasingly difficult courses under smothering pressure requires hours of instruction and dedication to the art of striking a golf ball. Lots of players can hit good shots, but very few have the time and energy to devote to perfecting that art. Assuming a player has the time to dedicate, even fewer of those players have a body that can stand up to the number of golf swings a full day of practice requires. Robbie and Chris have incredibly long odds, and I commend them for not giving up. Both of them have careers, Chris even has a family to support, but they are both willing to make the mental, physical, and emotional sacrifices required to not let their dreams die. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is refreshing in an increasingly adult world filled with commitments and responsibilities. They refuse to give up, and are an inspiration to every one of us who will always ask “what if” when it comes to potential golf careers. They know the odds are stacked against them, and while they don’t have the ability to dedicate 100% of their lives to playing golf, they are making due with what they have. They are practicing smart, focusing on what needs attention at the time, rather than their entire game every day. I genuinely hope they succeed and reach their goals.
Argument #2 – Are They Crazy?!?
What are these guys thinking? For every golfer who’s made a career playing the game, a thousand have failed. At some point, it’s time to grow up and accept that just because they want something, it doesn’t mean it will happen. Both of these guys are around 40 years old, 20 years older than the most recent crop of hopeful touring pros. 20 years older than the guys with no bad memories, and no crushing defeats, and no responsibilities waiting for them outside of the ropes. Chris and Robbie had their shots, now its time to accept the fact that golf wasn’t meant to be, and they should move on. These guys are splitting time between careers and golf, neither getting their full attention. Too much of that, and both will suffer. Guess what, we all have dreams, we will all go to our grave with a giant “what if” hanging over our head, but at some point we have to grow up and cut our losses. Give up already.
I don’t have any idea which side of my own argument to take. The cynical part of me thinks these guys need to get a clue, accept the fact they just don’t have it, and move on with life. The child in me thinks its great, these guys have thrown caution to the wind, risking all they have spent their lives building on the chance they catch lighting in a bottle at the exact right time. Each episode is like watching a train wreck with a new girlfriend. On the inside, wanting to see carnage and destruction, with no hope for survival and one heck of a story to tell the local news crew. All the while, telling the new girlfriend what you’re watching is awful and you hope everyone gets out safe. This is normally where I’d have some sort of conclusion statement, summarizing my thoughts. This time, however, I have no idea what I think. No idea at all.