Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Signs of Success

Sam played this past weekend in the King’s Prize on the Empereur Course. It is one of the “majors” of the Belgian amateur season. He was excellent in his first round.

For the first time this year, I saw smile coming off the course. He had a two over par round and was eighth in the tournament. He didn’t struggle. He hit the ball well. “If I only putted a little better, I would have been well under par,” he said.

The next day, Sam had to play 36 holes. I watched the first nine holes and it was instructive. He hit the ball much better than his playing partners. On the first hole, one boy hit into the water and took a triple bogey seven. The other missed the green with his second shot and took a five. Sam hit two perfect shots – and three putted for a five. On the second hole, he made another three putt. His playing partners kept missing the fairway, but scrambled for pars. By the turn, Sam was four over and his playing partners were two under and par.

Sam shot 77 and 78 to finish 19th.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Parental Pride

I was in Paris the other day dining with a friend who has been reading this blog. She said she found my words “hard” on Sam. I was surprised. The last thing I wanted to be was “hard” on my fantastic, first born son. I am proud of him and thought my words shine with parental pride.

But I also can understand how even the slightest criticism – meant to be realistic or constructive – could be misconstrued. Sam has had a tough start to the golf season. He is putting too much pressure on his young shoulders. But I am more proud of him than ever before.

He just brought home his second semester grades from school. They are his best ever, with an average well over 8 out of 10. (For those Americans used to grade inflation, let me tell you that 8 out of ten at the European School of Brussels is one hellavu score)_

He is so excited about attending university in America and I am beginning to believe the tender loving care exhibited in my dealings with Davidson make it a more appropriate place to build confidence than my arrogant, impersonal alma mater Yale.

And when it comes to golf, Sam is not giving up. He is practicing harder than ever, determined to improve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shooting from Scotland

I'm proud of Sam.

He has been struggling on the course, fighting a fade in his shots and a lack of confidence in his shot making. His coach has corrected the swing sickness. When he manages to string together a strong run, however, Sam has failed to finish with panache, missing the cut in his last two big tournaments.

This past week, he traveled with the Belgian national junior team to Scotland to play in the Scottish Youth Championship. Its being played on a British Open qualifying course called Montfieth, a few kilometers from Carnoustie. On the phone, Sam told me it was a "true links."

In the first round, he shot a competitive 78. "I made some mental mistakes - it could have been much better." While a year ago, he would have called the round disastrous, this time he felt he had a fighting chance to make the cut.

In the second round, he teed off late and the wind was blowing hard against him in the first four holes. He began with a series of catastrophic holes that left him six over par after only four holes. Instead of giving up, though, he fought back, scoring back to back birdies. But on the next par five, he had to wait for a while lost his concentration and missed a short put. He struggled with his putting in the next few holes, but finished with a sparkling eagle on the 18th. It was too little to salvage the tournament - his 79 - left him failing to make the cut.

When Sam last went to Scotland, he easily made the cut in the Scottish Boys tournament. But what is encouraging is his attitude. On the phone, he called the round his "best yet mentally." Despite the horrendous start, he didn't give up. He fought. He broke 80. He sounded proud of himself, and he should be. If he has confidence, the results will follow.