I am Tom Watson by Lian Dolan

My family reacts with horror and mistrust every time I mention that I have gone golfing. I get that the Dolans are not a golfing family. And, golf appears to be a genetic sport, like curling, so my siblings and parents can’t seem to understand how my later-in-life enthusiasm evolved. My dad and my mom never played. My brothers would occasionally hack around on the town Par 3, but never the girls. We always enjoyed watching golf in the pre-Tiger era of Jack and Tom and Johnny Miller because of the blond hair, the pants, and the fact that Tom Watson bore a remarkable resemblance to my brother’s best friend Bob Moriarity. And, let’s face it, it’s the only sport you can watch while simultaneously napping or reading the Sunday paper.

But still, I am shocked at the disrespect I encounter with regards to my 6- times- a- year golf habit.

“Since when do you play golf?” my brother Brendan said last year, his voice thick with disdain.

“Oh really? You a big golfer?” my brother Dick mocked when we asked him for course recommendations on our vacation in Bend.

Even my mother got in on the action this week. ” Oh, yes, Elizabeth told me that you played golf,” she said in the same tone she would use to say, “Oh yes, Elizabeth told me that you are a rodeo clown.”

But this weekend, whether you play golf or not, we were all Tom Watson. Because we have all choked. We have all let our nerves or self-doubt or unrestrained adrenaline get the best of us at some point in our lives. And I don’t know about you, but the choking points seem to come closer and closer with age. What used to be simple is now complex. What used to be a breeze just ain’t anymore.

The Confidence Trap: the older we get, the more we have to lose. And the self-doubt anaconda grabs our neck and squeezes.

Tom choked on the 18th. Others choke on job interviews, the first date after a divorce, the big presentation, the speech at your daughter’s wedding, the annual job review and raise conversation, standing next to a younger version of yourself in the ladies room, at the starting line of a fun run, in the dressing room before bathing suit season. The bravado we used to have slips away just a tiny bit when we find ourselves in a situation where we haven’t been in a while. Just like Tom Watson in the lead of a major for the first time in decades. Can you hear the sound?

So, yes, family. I am a golfer. And, this weekend I realized something else: I am Tom Watson.



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