Golf requires a lot of things, not the least of which being an astute dedication to a sport that is not always kind to you.
It certainly hasn’t always been kind to Lizzie Goss, a junior girls golfer for Santa Barbara High School, but she has stuck with it since she was a 7th-grader.
“It is frustrating, but it is rewarding. It’s not always satisfying, but it’s humbling,” Goss said.
“It’s honestly so weird how mental it (the sport) is. You feel bad over a tiny ball.”
But, her dedication has certainly paid off.
This season, Goss has been a medalist eight times for the Dons.
And, as of Thursday, Santa Barbara is now 15-0 overall and 8-0 in the Channel League following a 216-274 victory over San Marcos at La Cumbre Country Club.
Goss, with a score of 6-over 42, did not earn medalist honors on Thursday, losing by one stroke to fellow junior teammate Melia Haller, who carded a 41.
The fight for medalist honors usually is between Goss and Haller. Great friends off the green, the two always push themselves to be better and have worked on never letting the results of a match get in the way of their friendship.
“Freshman year we were a lot more competitive like ‘I want to beat her’ whereas now we are happy with each other. Golf is more of a competition with yourself. You know what you are capable of and you’d rather not disappoint yourself than focus on beating someone else,” Goss said.
Despite finishing with a good score at a tough course in La Cumbre, Goss knows she could have done better on Thursday.
“I am really hard on myself. I always have been,” Goss said.
“The thing about golf is you could always shoot better, you could always be better. Honestly, the best and worst thing about golf is that you can never reach your full potential. You can always get better and better,” Goss said.
On Thursday, Goss had a lot to be proud of. She got a birdie on No. 2 after a fantastic approach shot hit the flag and landed about 10 feet from the hole.
She also parred four other holes, including the final one and yet, as Goss said, “It is hard to not think about the opportunities you missed out on.”
The opportunities she is talking about came on Nos. 4, 7 and 8.
Going to hole No. 4, Goss was even on the afternoon.
With a great chip shot that landed about 20 feet from the hole, Goss was in position for another par.
Instead, she ultimately three-putted to finish with a double-bogey, sending her to 2 over.
“Three-putting is the worst. The very, very worst, especially if you put yourself in a good position. I was about 20 feet from the hole and three-putting from there feels like a stab in the back because you know you shouldn’t have done that,” Goss said.
At par-3 7th, Goss once again hit a fantastic tee shot — as she did all day — and landed near the hole.
She had an opportunity for a birdie but just missed it. The putt was a bit too strong and went right over the hole. She sunk the next one to finish with a par.
“You can’t be mad at a par, at least that is what I have been telling myself. But it is frustrating, especially at this course because I knew that was my best chance to get a birdie,” Goss said.
Finally, at No. 8, Goss found herself in real trouble. Her drive was near the out-of-bounds market, forcing a tough second shot.
“If you want to hit those low numbers you have to take risks. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t,” Goss said.
Still, with an opportunity to just finish with a bogey, she again three-putted resulting in a triple bogey.
“I was mad that I missed my first putt and then I went up on my next putt, no practice swing, and missed on a 2-footer and looking back that’s frustrating. I should have stopped and relaxed. Instead of playing hole by hole, it is really shot by shot because every stroke matters,” Goss said.
And yet, this is where golf is rewarding.
Even with all that in her mind, Goss managed to get a par on the final hole, a tough one that not many people were able to par.
“At least I finished the day with a par. I really believe you leave feeling the emotion of how you finish the last hole and I was happy to finish how I did,” Goss said.
Even in those tough moments throughout the match on Thursday, Goss still put on her best smile going into the next hole and even cheered on Haller or her opponents.
“You always want to lift up the people you play with even if they are your opponent. It makes the round more enjoyable. Honestly, it’s just important to put every hole behind you and keep going,” Goss said.
Golf requires dedication, but so does every sport.
What makes golf difficult is the amount of mental anguish a player goes through to be great.
Whether it’s nine holes or 18, the pain is the same. The pain of knowing you could always do better on any given shot.
It is different in other sports because usually, the next play is just seconds away. There is no time to dwell.
But in golf, there is almost too much time.
“It’s exhausting. I also play soccer and the difference in how tired I am in a golf match versus soccer is so different because in soccer you’re not really thinking you’re running whereas in golf you’re out there alone with your thoughts and it is scary,” Goss said.
For Goss, playing golf is not always easy.
In fact, she didn’t really choose to play golf, she just tried it and kept trying.
She credits Mark Minier, her personal instructor, for not only helping her with her game, but for keeping her appreciation for the sport.
“Without him, I probably wouldn’t even be playing. When I go to him it is more of a therapy session than a lesson,” Goss said.
“I am so lucky I have him as a coach because golf is so lonely and you need to know ‘I got this’ and I have that because I practice with him and I am just thankful.”
Goss hopes to play golf in college and maybe, one day, in the pros.
In spite of the mental anguish, Goss is thankful for what golf has done for her.
And even on the bad days, it still somehow keeps her happy.
“Honestly, it (golf) is also relaxing for me. Being out in nature puts you in a good headspace and even if I don’t play my best I always leave the course happier than when I got there,” Goss said.