You’d think that since I started golfing when I was eight and golfed every summer since, I would have a handle on my game. That used to be the case, but somehow my game and confidence fizzled over the last few years. My lack of confidence translated into fairway trouble and wasted shots on and around the green. It’s frustrating because a few years ago, I’d consistently “hit that little sucker pretty well” as my dad liked to say. But those days are a distant memory. At the end of last season, I declared that my game had officially become “a situation.”

While I knew lessons could help, I’d been resisting them. First, I’ve always preferred the mini-lessons from my dad. Second, I felt lessons were just for beginners. Now, I was clearly wrong on the second, and sadly, my dad & lifetime coach left this world last May to play the beautiful courses of the great beyond. Since my husband understood why I’d never arrange my own lessons, he bought me some for my last birthday with the message, “I know you can get your groove back if you work on a few things. Plus, this is a way to honor your dad.”

How could I argue?

Lesson One: My Irons Weren’t the Culprit

I went to my first lesson determined to figure out my irons, as fairway shots were my biggest pain point. I had visions of my instructor offering magical tips for each club and that would be it. Instead, my instructor had me draw a picture of my swing.

Draw?! Would there be math too?

Though a kindergartner could’ve drawn a better swing (I break out in hives at the mention of Pictionary), my drawing was effective for this lesson. I’d never thought about illustrating my swing, so I had sketched my swing to resemble a pendulum. My instructor held up my drawing like it was the Holy Grail. She told me my troubles were probably linked to how I was visualizing my swing: if I was hitting the ball like a pendulum, she was willing to bet I wasn’t finishing the swing with my whole body. She showed me how my hips needed to end up pointed at the target.

It was something I hadn’t thought of in years, or maybe ever!

Lesson Two: A Solid Golf Game Starts with a Solid Head Game

The drawing exercise proved I’d had my swing on auto-pilot. Sure, I’d try to relax and focus on each shot, but I had forgotten some essentials. My instructor reminded me that I needed to follow through, moving by body with my swing so that my hips would end up pointed at my target. But what about club selection, and dealing with different shots the course?

My instructor told me that while there are many factors to consider, getting a solid swing and follow through down was key. The right club selection wouldn’t matter if my swing was off.

I realized then that I’d been too focused on the details of my shots and was ignoring the mechanics of my swing. My takeaway? Golf isn’t just about “the shot”. It’s the million different things that go into each shot. Because there are so many factors, golfers need to consider the big picture and think about how, why, and where we hit each shot. Each and every time.

Lesson Three: There are No Quick Fixes in Golf

While I only actually hit balls for about twenty minutes that first lesson, I had so many revelations. The big takeaway: there would be no quick fixes for me. Of course, I wasn’t really expecting any, but who doesn’t want a quick fix, right? My lessons wouldn’t be the end of my learning but a step along the way in my development as a golfer and person.

Enter golf’s paradoxical truth: we never fully master the game. I realized then that was why my dad was still getting golf magazines and talking golf with me even after he stopped playing. There is always something new to consider, which is a good idea to realize and embrace. Every single time we head out to practice or play, we’re learning—from other golfers as well as ourselves. This notion kind of lets us off the hook for thinking we have to figure it all out and only then will be good golfers.

If we keep in mind that there really is no end game in golf, it becomes apparent that golf is a lot like life. Each brings us unique challenges and surprises to tackle. It’s up to us to decide when we can handle things on our own, and when we need to call for reinforcements.

Whether it’s golf or life, if we ask for help when needed, we might be surprised with the unexpected lessons that come our way. With that in mind, I’m determined to build on the foundation built by my first and favorite coach so I can again “hit that little sucker really well” this summer and beyond!