I have played quite a bit of golf in my time (keep in mind I'm one of the DBN "Senior Citizens" around here). I still play quite a bit, but not nearly as much as I have in previous periods of my life. My game is not what it once was, for sure.
I've read years and years worth of golf magazines, watched instructional videos, read books and tried self-training do-dads sold on infomercials . I could write the annual March Golf Magazine "How To Fix Your Slice For Good!" article, I've read it so many times, over so many years.
I have spent hours upon hours at driving ranges, supervised and not. I've taken all forms of lessons; group, individual, grizzled old course Pro, sophisticated filming with sensors and lasers, books, videos and what-not, and at one time - actually carried a true USGA single digit handicap for more than a year.
This post will eventually tie into football and The Browns, I promise - bear with me.
I still play on an organized weekday 9 hole Match Play league, and just about every Saturday or Sunday with two groups of guys I've known for years. Some of these guys can be quite competitive - at least in their own minds - and I often find myself (willing or not) the target of their competitive juices. We usually aren't playing for anything other than pride and bragging rights, none of us have much money to play with. Even taking that into consideration, make no mistake, being considered the "better" competition out there definitely puts a target on your back, whether you want it, believe it's warranted, or not. Take note; Green Bay Packers. If you are viewed as "Elite", people want to beat you.
One thing I have learned in all my years of playing golf is that the majority of the "competition" is in the same relative range. There are a ton of "Weekend Hackers", a few decent "Players" and then those that are just on a different level, The Tom Brady's and Adrian Peterson's of Muni Golf.
Occasionally on my League, or on the front nine of a weekend round, I'll get "beat" by one of the other players. They usually make a big deal about it. Sometimes annoyingly so.
On the League, I'll shake hands with my fellow competitor, congratulate him on a good round and move on. On the weekend, I'll usually reply "See me at the end of the round" and smile. Why? Because I know I'm a "Player" and whoever just "beat me" is a "Weekend Hacker". They can't compete with me for a full 18 holes. And they won't.
My DBN Friends, your 2013 Cleveland Browns are the golf equivalent of "weekend hackers".
What distinguishes a "Weekend Hacker" from a "Player?" you might ask - especially if you aren't a golfer (and if you aren't, I commend you for reading this long). That answer is easy. Consistency.
I always say that it's easy for any "weekend hacker" to piece together 9 good holes of golf. I often refer to playing 9 holes as "playing four and a half innings of baseball", because it really doesn't prove anything. It's not a true test. It's not the full game. When I've "lost" the front 9 by a couple of strokes to one of the weekend guys and they get excited, it's the reason I tell them to "see me at the end of the round'. I know I'm consistent and they're not. There is almost no chance they can beat me over the entire round. It's why a tour event is 72 holes.
The Browns are proving the same thing on the football field right now. They have led at halftime in every game this season, and are 3-3. Why? Most definitely due to a lack of consistency in some part of their game - or the same malady that kills every recreational golfer on the planet.
I suggest you can compare a football team to the clubs in your bag and your golf game.
Your short game? That's the Defense. Sometimes it's on, sometimes it's not. If it's great you can win despite the other faults in your game.
Your long irons? Running game. Sometimes you need it, sometimes you can win without it. You can cover it up with trick plays, and read options - the football equivalent of a Rescue Club.
Your Driver? Special Teams. You can overcome it's mistakes if your running game or defense are playing well, and you can just hide it in general on occasion. Maybe you don't take it out of the bag and call for a fair catch on punts and kick-offs.
Ahhh your putting. One part of the game you can't live without. This is the golf equivalent of your Quarterback. If you can't putt you can't win, especially under pressure. Perception by non-players also says that putting should be easy. We are all Monday Morning Quarterbacks. We've played putt-putt.
"Drive for show and putt for dough" as they say. Your putting can save or ruin your round, just as your QB can control the outcome of the game in just a few plays. In a regulation round of 18 holes your final score should equal 72 - and in a perfect world 1/2 of those strokes would equal your putts. 36, or two putts per hole in "regulation". This is a tremendous part of your game that most bystanders would take for granted as simple. We all love to say how many people out there would be better off at QB for our team - but the difficulty of their skill is definitely understated and unappreciated, just like the non-players view of putting.
You can very easily draw some parallels between the NFL and recreational golf. Heck, I'm no Rocket Scientist, and I just did it. I could very easily come up with many more parallels - one of the easiest being the "Cutting of Losses and Minimizing Of Mistakes" that is preached in golf at every level. One of the earliest principals you learn in competitive golf is to cut your losses, play it safe when in trouble and get back into the game. Don't be the Hero - let your opponent feel pressure and make mistakes. The disappointing part of this is that If I, the "slightly above weekend hacker" can recognize and draw these parallels - why can't Brandon Weeden?
Brandon Weeden supposedly carries a handicap in the low single digits and was a walk-on for the Oklahoma State golf team - playing with the PGA Tour's Ricky Fowler. The tenants I've drawn out are no stranger to Brandon Weeden's world- whether in football or golf.
So, what do the Browns and Brandon Weeden need to do to turn 2013 into a successful season? More time with the "grizzled range pro" (Norv Turner), some sessions with the lasers, video and sensors (Chud and Horton)? I can't say for sure, but one thing is for certain - at their age and experience, just getting out there and playing with the influence of both can only mean better things, especially if Brandon calls on his golf game for inspiration. Playing and gaining consistency are of the utmost importance at this stage of our teams development - just like building a complete golf game. Who knows, maybe in the off-season we need to find a new "putter" to match our stroke......