Sweat streaks across his forehead, his skin is stickier than pancakes drenched in syrup on a lazy Sunday morning. His ears are pounding, muscles tightening. This feeling never gets old. At least, that’s the case for Iowa City West golfer Kyle Spence ’19.
“I could just play a hole and then walk back to the tee box and play it … 10,000 times [again], and it would be a completely different experience every single time. That’s just the nature of the game,” Spence said.
Having moved to America from Ireland, Spence’s father learned golf through work and later introduced it to his son.
“[My dad] didn’t know a lot about basketball, didn’t know a lot about football, baseball [or any] American sport,” Spence said. “He gave me a little plastic golf club when I was two-years-old to mess around with in the backyard, and I’ve pretty much been in love with it ever since. It’s been my lifelong passion.”
Even with a love and dedication for the game, Spence still spends hours improving and perfecting his swing. From working on his grip to analyzing videos of his own performance, Spence is always looking for ways to improve. “If I win a tournament, I could always go back and say there’s five or six shots there that I still left out on the course,” Spence said.
Athletes can spend hours a day pushing their bodies, but that’s only half of the battle. “[In] golf, one of the most important traits is to make sure that you run through the tape. And to make sure that you know if you have a bad hole, you pick up and go to the next one, because the next one shouldn’t be affected by the last one,” Spence said. “It’s a different hole and that’s the only way to recover.”
While the physical components are important to getting a perfect swing, the mental aspects are just as important.
“I consistently pick the most terrifying, terrible shots because my [signature] is that if I make myself really, really uncomfortable in practice and pick the worst possible lie, worst possible shot in practice, nothing is going to faze me when I play in the tournament,” Spence said. “The worst break [or] the worst hit off of a tree on to a terrible spot can’t faze me because I’ve done it before … It’s better to be faced with it [in practice] than to be faced with it in the tournament having never seen it before.”