A wise person once told me that we can’t focus on the past, because no one has ever gone back to change their own. We can only learn from it and not dwell on the fact that we can’t change what’s already happened. I took this advice to heart in so many ways; not just for my golf game but also in dealing with the pain I hold onto regarding my past.

My parents divorced years ago, but I was 16 and going through a typical bout of teenage angst. Throwing in my parents’ divorce only made those years even harder. During that time, I turned to golf. If I wanted to avoid awkward time with my dad or deal with my mother’s angry arguments against him, then I ran to the golf course.

It was a getaway—my time with friends, my time to pretend that my life was normal and that I wasn’t going through one of the hardest chapters in my life.

With every drive, chip, or putt, I was able to turn my thoughts away from reality and into the game that became my friend when I needed it the most. I felt my thoughts of anger, resentment, and pain of my parents’ divorce fade away as I approached the tee box or got ready for a putt. At that moment, I was in control of my thoughts, anxieties, or worries that affected every other part of my day.

Looking back, though, I realized that my game was only as good as my own thoughts. I had issues with letting go of bad shots, I carried the regret of a bad putt or shot until the next hole and my attitude of playing a bad round left me so upset that I had to be told by others to let it go and quit being in a bad mood about it. I was subconsciously letting the pain of my personal struggles affect my mindset in playing golf.

As I got older and grew up my golf game became better. I found that the more I held onto the past (the bad shots, holes, rounds), the worse I felt and played. The same holds true for my own struggles as well. The longer I held on to those feelings of resentment and pain, the worse I felt and the harder it became to let go. I think I held on to those feelings because I didn’t know how to face them and admit that what I felt wasn’t healthy.

Golf inspired me to face my fears, my worries, and my anxieties to take on tough situations. I still struggle with these moments, but I have matured, and I now understand the pain of my past a little better. My relationship now with both parents is strong. I didn’t let the past dictate my future with either of them, and the same holds true with playing golf. I didn’t quit playing because of a bad round in the past; I pushed through because I learned to let go and not let what happened in the past cloud my next shot.

So I invite you to try golf because it’s more than a game. It’s a lesson in life and in facing your fears, of letting go of the past and the frustration that goes along with it. You will find that once you let go of a past you can’t change, your future looks not only brighter but a lot happier too.

I hope the same holds true for the golf course as well.