Morning Round | Sights & Sounds

How a last minute early morning tee time helped bring me back down to earth.

7/1/20234 min read

5:45 am. Alarm goes off as I jump up to get the shower running. I look over at my lady to see if I've woken her up and she gives me a small smile as she goes back to sleep. She probably thinks I'm crazy booking a time that early, and she's not wrong. But we've all done it, right? The feeling of excitement when you book the round. The amount of effort and time we take into looking at courses, conditions, etc before clicking the "Book Now" button. But once you get that confirmation? That's a feeling that never gets old.

Making the solo drive 30 minutes north and catching up on some new music I’ve been meaning to check out, the drive up was like any other, and I could feel the anticipation building. Upon arriving, I checked in with security at the gate to let me into the complex and made my way to the clubhouse. Showing up with 30 minutes to spare, I bought a small bucket of balls to warm up and started getting loose. It’s funny how much more time I had to spare. I always plan on showing up a little early each time I play a round, but this time it was a lot easier with less to worry about. Being as it was just me this time, I didn't have two others to look after. No carrying bags and helping the boys make sure they didn’t forget anything, just me and my bag. It’s like catching a flight for work right after you travel with the family, you could do it with your eyes closed. Yet somehow you miss the chaos when you're with others.

7:00 am rolls around and I make my way to the starter who gives me the green light and sends me on my way. "There's no one in front or behind you for another 15 minutes. Good to go." Music to my ears as I made my way through the opening holes and was feeling great. The first few holes could have been better. It usually takes me about 3 holes to warm up and get a rhythm going, however, I wasn't shooting for a score today. I was simply there to unwind and relax. I put my playlist on and left my phone in the bag other than to take a few videos and photos on certain holes, but other than that I was unplugged.

The course is a little gem. Tucked away about 30 minutes North of Tampa in a suburban area filled with complexes and chain restaurants you dined at when you were younger. This small and rural suburban area is a short drive away from the busy tourist beaches of Clearwater and the expanding downtown Tampa. The Groves is a nice little mix of par 3's and par 4's that can be easily birdied paired with a few Par 5's that will test your ability to keep the ball in play which makes this an enjoyable shorter course. The scorecard only read Par 66 at the end, and having the luck of not being paired with anyone this morning I was looking forward to making the most of the three hours by myself.

An hour and a half in and I was already enjoying a coffee and breakfast sandwich at the turn. Nothing to brag home about, but I felt it was too early for a hot dog. The first nine saw some struggles but a few pars mixed in there had me feeling good. I remember sitting in the clubhouse cafe for about 10 minutes to think about what I wanted to gain from this morning before going home. What will make this round successful? How will I feel afterward when all is said and done and putting the bags in the car?

The past few weeks had left me feeling like I was running on fumes. Even though the boys were out of school and in full summer mode, it didn't stop for me. Daily tasks, appointments, calls, meetings, and work on the weekends all took over and left me feeling like I couldn't focus on what I wanted to. Father's Day weekend helped a ton as we took a little getaway to Cedar Key for a few days. A small beach town along the Gulf coast where we spent our time on the boat island hopping and just unwinding playing board games. I still felt like I needed a reset. I needed some me time. I needed Golf.

As Dad, we know how much we are leaned on. It weighs heavy sometimes and there's nothing wrong with accepting and realizing when you need a reset. Whatever shape that make take, resets help by remaining calm and at ease before hitting your breaking point. Everyone in my family can tell when I need one. It's easy to overlook the little things that keep us happy when focusing on and prioritizing our families first. You can't give your best to your family if you cant give yourself the best first.

On the last hole of the day. I took a moment to stop the cart in the middle of the fairway and took a moment to take it all in. It was the last few shots I had and I didn't know when I'd be back out alone again so I made sure to recognize and appreciate what the morning had given me. I felt at ease and relaxed as I was watching the wind blow the flag on the pin ahead. Solo rounds are rare for me as I usually get paired up with someone if the course is booked, but it was almost like everything aligned to allow me to have some time to myself. I picked up my trusted 7 iron and hit my approach shot landing 10 feet from the pin, leading me to finish out the round with a birdie. A fitting ending to the round. I packed up the car and made my drive back home, eager to share the highlights with the fam.

The morning time alone was one I was grateful for, but in the end, I missed the chaos. I missed the laughs and the boys being around joking about whatever they could think of as they cheered on any good shot. I missed giving tips and pointers to them when lining up to take a shot and was excited to take them out next. Like the traveler coming home from a vacation, you always come back feeling refreshed and looking forward to the next one. At the end of the day, the chaos keeps things interesting.

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