Editor’s Note: May we Mayke a suggestion? No, our suggestion is not that we stop using cringeworthy puns, but it is to think ahead! We know what’s coming: the summer. The time when the air is heavy, the tourists have abandoned ship, and us locals are left to enjoy our city, heat and all. That’s where we come in! All the month of May we are going to prepare you to “Ban the Boredom” by giving you the best places, the best restaurants, and the best event, but since we never do anything “normal” at ViaNolaVie, we are basing these suggestions around various psychological states! If you’re a total introvert, we’ve got a spot for you! If you have a disability, we’ve got the places that actually don’t discriminate and let you get down the way you want to get down. We’ve got something for everyone because New Orleans is the city for everyone! So what about people who want to escape it all, even themselves. Writer Brennan Lambert says all you need is a club, some balls, and a lot of green space.
Rich Eisen, a well-known NFL network sport journalist, once said, “Sports is the ultimate escape, the ultimate in reality programming. It is true drama. You really don’t know what’s going to happen.” People use different sports to escape their reality, but for me there is one sport that is my escape, which is golf. Now you might wonder, where in God’s grace is there a golf course in the city of New Orleans? There are some closer than you might think. In the heart of Uptown on 1051 Filmore Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana stands as a majestic work of art, built for a challenge, but also built for fun. Municipal for all, City Park’s Bayou Oaks South Golf course, my personal favorite, is an 18-hole golf course sitting in over 200 acres filled with expansive live oaks and numerous streams and ponds with the downtown skyline visible from most of the fairways. The course was rebuilt and restored after it flooded in Hurricane Katrina. When you are on the course that winds around trees and ponds, there is no housing in sight, only pristine Louisiana landscape. Depending on what tee you hit off of, the course is between 5002 and 7302 yards in length, making it challenging enough for tournament level play.
Dr. Bob Rotella, known internationally for sports psychology, once said: “Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.” In the shadows of the Caesar’s Superdome, I stand on the first tee, anticipating hitting my first shot of the day. Hitting the first tee shot of the day always brings a rush. You want it to be perfect, so you can start off hot with a “par”. There are many tutorials on how to methodically go about hitting a perfect tee shot. To start tee the ball up on the tee so that half the ball sits above the face of the driver. Then, line the tee in the ground towards the front of your stance so you can catch the ball at the end of your swing arc. Next, square your shoulders and grip the club with your dominate hand to pull the swing through. Then, clear your mind and focus only on the target that you choose. Finally, swing with rhythm and balance in your legs and follow through with your arms. It sounds simple enough, but controlling the mind and body in the swing and doing it the same way on a consistent basis is the ultimate test. Every shot in golf can give you a massive amount of different results that will impact the next shot and the next. And as difficult as it is to control body movements consistently and focus your mind, there are a dozen other factor, which are totally out of your control that will impact your shot including wind, divots on the fairway, or amount of dew on the grass. So many things can and will vastly impact where your ball ends up. These uncontrollable unknowns and how you react to these unknowns are part of the challenge and part of the reason I keep coming back to the game, thinking this next time I will hit it perfect. The pure joy of putting in for par after a tough second shot is what golf is all about. Golf provides me a joyful escape, and the mental games you go through in golf parallel closely to many challenges and lessons that life has to offer.
On average, a college student spends 35-40 hours a week on schoolwork. For student athletes, that is on top of approximately an additional 40 hours a week on practice/games in season. Juggling attending class, completing assignments, working out, practicing, and attending team meetings and games is hectic. Life of a college student, in particular student athlete, is non-stop. For most, golf is a hobby to enjoy with friends or family. For me, golf is a perfect escape from a very rigorous life, a 4-hour break from the hectic overly scheduled week. In this year’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, rapper ScHoolboy Q hit the media with a golf quote of a lifetime, “life is a golf game- some good shots, some bad shots. But most importantly, keep going you never know”. Golf is just that, it is a game of life within all of hustle and noise that life can bring us. Even the professionals make mistakes as no one ever scores a perfect golf score. How you react to those mistakes and whether you can pull yourself out of it provides a much-needed break from the go-go and repetitiveness in life. The unpredictability of the day during a round of golf in the most serene calming setting within nature of the golf course is energizing.
Diana Raab, an expert in psychology says, “The constant bombardment of negative news and our continual connection to our technological devices can make us feel, trapped with strong desire to escape. Perhaps we just need some time alone to heal and nurture ourselves.” If you know someone struggling, or know someone looking for an escape, one piece of advice that you can give that person is to fall in love with a sport. The emotion, passion, heartbreak, and jubilee that sports bring people offers a great avenue for distraction. The deafening scream coming from 75,000 New Orleans Saints fans is indescribable. At that moment, the stresses of work, your taxes or car note doesn’t matter, all that matters is that team playing in your hometown colors. All an escape is, is a distraction from the reality, and playing or cheering on a sports team can achieve that level of escape.
Golf is my personal escape from the real world. Just being out on the golf course, with my phone tucked away, enjoying the scenery brings a blanket of calmness and focus over me. Just imagine this, the sun is going down, and you are on the 18th fairway looking at this magnificent scenery with ponds filled with birds and grass greener than a rain forest, it just doesn’t get much better than that. A golf course is measured on how well one is manicured. A lot of money, effort, and manpower goes into providing a quality golf course, worth one’s money and time. In a short documentary, Barstool Sports goes behind the scenes of what it is like to manicure and manage Torrey Pines before the 2021 United States Open Championship. The day-to-day process of manicuring a golf course is more than one would think. Seeing all those preparations and all the things in action is a good picture of what it is like during a typical golf round. Just like New Orleans’s Bayou Oaks South, Torrey Pines is a municipal golf course that sees up to 90,000 golfers each year. Manicuring a golf course is like an art project. Every blade of grass is placed, cut, and grown in a certain way to be presented to a player or group of players to have the best experience as possible. From the squealing sound of the lawnmowers to the aroma of glass clippings, to the sights from the fairways, and the greenery of the green, the experience one has on a golf course is one of a kind. Golf is a way to escape our over-scheduled lives getting lost in tranquil space. It allows us to focus our minds and challenge our bodies in a game that is full of uncontrollable and challenges and contradictions.