It occurred to me, while watching the Ryder Cup this past weekend, that there are few pursuits in sports that seem as solitary or are as psychologically demanding as professional golf. Unlike team sports where the two best teams typically only play each other once a year (e.g., the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, etc.), with the exception of a few “match play” events, professional golfers are required to compete against the best in their sport every time they stick their tee in the ground. To make matters even more challenging, unless they are ahead of more than half the field at the midway point of the tournament they are unceremoniously “cut” (i.e., sent packing to the next event) – forced to bear their own expenses for the week that wasn’t (i.e., unlike other athletes they don’t get paid even in spite of a sub-par performance). Suffice it to say, it can become a bit of grind, particularly since, both in the midst of the competition and at day’s end, there are no “teammates” anywhere in sight to “blame” or help shoulder the blame for a lack of success or poor play.
And yet, for all of its apparent solitariness, for all of the single-mindedness of purpose that is required to become, let alone succeed as, a professional golfer, I never cease to be amazed by the fact that, almost invariably, when the winner of a PGA or Nationwide/Web.com event is interviewed moments after he has holed his final putt, the first thing he does is begin thanking, often quite profusely if time allows, a litany of “supporters” who he credits for the victory. Often, they begin by thanking their spouse or their caddy (or both). Some thank their parents for the considerable sacrifices all parents of professional athletes have to make for their children to ultimately compete at that level. Still others thank a swing or short game coach or, in some instances, even another player who helped them work through various difficulties they may have been having in a certain aspect of their game. More recently, you’re likely to hear them thank a sports psychologist who finally found a way to help them dispel a lifetime of “demons,” self-doubt, naysayers, fear and uncertainty.
Forget about the fact that “These Guys Are Good” as the current PGA Tour ad campaign professes. The more important “fact” is: “These Guys Get It.” No matter how “singular” a task may appear from the “viewpoint” of the spectators “outside the ropes” or how talented or proficient an individual may be at whatever it is they do or whatever it is they aspire to do, very few ever reach the pinnacle of their sport, profession or avocation without first building and then staying religiously connected with a broad base of supporters who love and believe in them and their abilities and who share your commitment (and their passion) to see the journey through to eventual realization of their dreams. And so it is in the case of a writer – at least this writer! While in many respects writing appears to be (and often is) a very solitary pursuit, particularly when it comes to laying out the creative “foundation” upon which the book will be constructed(http://tinyurl.com/9kpohhl), the fact is that, for me, writing is a “collaborative” process that depends on my being able to interact with others about the work along the way.
“Dear Ashley . . .” certainly was no exception. For that reason, I thought I would devote the next few days “posts” to thanking those without whom the book simply would not have been possible. In the process, I hope to provide my readers with what I think should be an interesting “behind the scenes” look at the creative process.