You can try too hard.

In case you haven’t heard, about two years ago I turned into one of those annoying golfers. You know the ones . . . they watch it on TV, they read golf magazines, and they wear golf attire even when they’re not golfing, etc. And sometimes they even work golf metaphors into their blogs about producing theater!

Like anything I do, when I pick something up, I pick it up . . . big time. See golf is a tricky, difficult sport, and the Type A, OCD, Virgo in me just can’t suck at anything. (And I’ve got a feeling a lot of you have this perfectionist nature too, don’t you?) So when I started with the sport, I took lessons once a week, played twice a week, and practiced every single day.

Yep, that was me this past winter, at the driving range at Chelsea Piers, at 7 AM, watching the condensation on my club turn to ice in front of my eyes in the 7 degree weather.

I was desperate to try and get better at this game, so I could catch up (ok, I’ll admit . . . outpace) some of my peers who also played.

So for months on end, I banged away at ball after ball. At least 100 a day. And on weekends, more.

And one day, I felt a little twinge in my elbow.

“It’s nothing,” I said, “I must get better,” so I banged away more balls, took two lessons a week, and bought every training device known to man.

And the twinge got worse.

A quick check of the WebMD alerted me to a common syndrome called, appropriately, “Golfer’s Elbow,” (which is identical to Tennis Elbow) which is caused by . . . ahem . . . excessive use. And, come to find out, is even more common with idiot guys like me who hit off of “mats” instead of natural grass because of the concrete below. It’s one thing to hit a few hundred balls a week, but a thousand?

“A stupid elbow won’t stop my progress,” I screamed. “I will try harder.” I convinced my orthopedist to give me a shot of the ol’ cortisone miracle cure and I went back at it, grinding away, desperate to succeed.

I was without pain for a couple of months, actually, thanks to the steroid. And then the pain came charging back . . . because I had kept playing and playing while the steroid just masked the injury.

“Fix me, Doc!”

“Ken,” he said. “You can and you will heal from this injury.”

“Awesome! Fix me.”

“I will. But you have to stop playing for at least 4-6 weeks.”

And just like that . . . not only was this great stress relieving and relationship building hobby taken away from me during the height of the summer season, but how could I improve if I couldn’t swing a club???

I had no one to blame but myself. I tired too hard. I was so hungry to beat the system and accomplish my goal that I had knocked myself out of the game entirely. I set myself back! And most importantly, it wasn’t fun anymore.

As you develop your shows, be careful about trying too hard.

Being driven is important. Being ambitious is essential. But being a crazed, obsessive lunatic like I was can actually do more damage than good.


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  • Walt Frasier says:

    Sounds like “Singers” that use cough drops and other methods to replace technique. Masking pain from damaging methods of singing and speaking, which leads to loss of voice and nodes…

    Or worse, those that try so hard to direct their own writing, w/o wisdom of listening to those that see the obvious pitfalls.

    Vanity blinds us all at times!

  • Tom Hartman says:

    So, no golf for 6 weeks. So you get married instead. Watch it, dude. Marriage has been know to strain muscles, too. And pinch nerves. And if you think doctors are expensive, try divorce lawyers. LOL

  • PattyK says:

    Ah yes, Ken–GOLF–sometimes only a four letter word, but a very addictive game. Got hooked 20 years ago–lessons, driving range, tournaments. I, too, wanted to be REALLY good, and I was, but then it was no fun. So, I quit competing and taught the sport. Great fun for me to combine my teaching background and golf. I still enjoy playing, but just for fun, and getting out on some very beautiful courses here in Vegas. Carry on…

  • Charlie Fink says:

    You need to focus on the short game anyway. They keep all the shots inside 100 yards. Think about it. You’re a 100 golfer. Putting is probably 40% of your score. If you include shots around the green the number is even higher. Drive for show, putt for dough 😉

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