Player diary: Davidson's Todd Eckstein (Part 5)
When I was in seventh grade, we had a rather tedious project for geometry: build a structure with toothpicks and marshmallows that could support a baseball. I thought I had built myself a great little contraption, but it only worked if you put the baseball on at a certain angle. Knowing my teacher would test it in as many ways as possible, I spent an hour adding several awkwardly-placed supports that eventually didn’t work, meaning I had to deconstruct and start over after wasting an hour trying to salvage a faulty design.
I learned in that moment that “band-aid” fixes are temporary solutions for a reason; they don’t actually serve to fix a wound like surgery or stitches would. But if you do use band-aids, you have to know when to rip them off.
This spring season, I’ve had plenty of band-aids to take off in order to assess more serious issues with my game. The sting of realizing I needed to sharpen my focus better on the course came following a frustrating tournament at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. I had no patience, which, as Coach Straub pointed out to me following the tournament, comes with having proper focus on the course.
I had never thought about patience in that way, perhaps because patience has become a foreign concept in every other facet of my life on campus. Being “patient” in studying for midterms last week or on class projects translates to procrastination. Having patience waiting for a professor to reply to an email means a later night of homework.
Thankfully, the conditions at our home tournament, the Davidson College Invitational at River Run Country Club, left me with only patience to make it through the day. The first day was barely above freezing with rain and high winds, leading to very difficult conditions. I couldn’t feel my hands by the eighth hole; being patient with myself was the only way to get through the day. I shot 83 that day, which is never a great number to shoot by any means. But I felt I was starting to understand this “patience” Coach Straub introduced to me.
The next night, I came down with a stomach virus and felt terrible Tuesday morning. I got to River Run not sure if I’d be able to finish a full round. One of my teammates, Ralph Blasey, came up to me on the first tee, looked at me and said, “Hey, it’s 18 holes. Do everything you can, and it’ll be enough.”
Finally it clicked. Patience is doing everything you can on each individual shot, then moving on to wherever the ball ends up and repeat. Being able to focus on each shot requires the incredible amount of focus Coach mentioned. I’ve heard these things before, but I had never connected patience and focus in that way before. That helped me shoot a score of 75 that day and finish T-31, contributing to a fourth place team finish in the event.
This is just one example of a band-aid I’ve had to address this spring, and I’m sure there will be more as I go along. However, I’m incredibly grateful for Coach Straub, my Dad, and other “doctors” who help me diagnose the places where I can most improve. I’ll let you know what else I find after our next tournament, the Seahawk Intercollegiate this weekend.