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Olympic Sized Inspiration


Two months ago, I made an unscheduled walk of shame up to the swimming pool that borders the 10th fairway in search of my tee-shot. Walking head-down into the pool area I caught sight of the gleaming Titleist, smirking at me from between a Spongebob kickboard and a gaggle of pre-teens snorting lines of FunDip. As I bent down to pick up my ball, through the throbbing haze of my own embarrassment, came the piercing sound of backseat sarcasm.

“Hey buddy, what’s your handicap?”

He could hardly squeeze the words out of his mouth before he started laughing. I looked up at this chuckling fool, ready to unleash a tidal wave of invectives when a funny thing happened. My Sorkin gland malfunctioned. I had no retort. I had no defense. My golf game was in shambles.

Let’s backtrack to last February: My game was hotter than a pair of sweatpants filled with barbeque. Every shot was perfect. I was Jackson, Tyson, Jordan (game six). I threw my giant cavity-back irons into the basement to collect dust because let’s face it, the game was getting too easy. (Understand that the cavity on these irons was so large that once in a Thanksgiving emergency my grandmother used the pitching wedge as a soup ladle.) My internal confidence barometer was brimming with swag. And so I strutted down to Charleston, South Carolina to play a tournament with some of my average-Joe friends. But, like the Union in 1861, Charleston is where things went haywire. It was Fort Freaking Sumter all over again.

I was only converting 74% of sand-saves, my drive lost 10 yards down to a paltry 295 yard average, and I was coin-flipping eight foot putts. It was brutal! Thank God there is always a light at the end of the tunnel! In this case, that light was legendary NBC broadcaster, Bob Costas.

Bob told me a story (via the Tee-Vee) about Peter Hudnut, a US Olympic Water Poloist who competed in the Beijing games. Following the 2008 games, Peter fell out of shape, gained 35 pounds, and, after having to special order his swimsuits from an industrial parachute manufacturer, thought his Olympic days were well behind him. But in 2010, Peter took a break from his morning Cheetoh binge to roll (literally) down to the USA Aquatic Center to catch a match between his old pals and the country formerly known as Serbia & Montenegro, which was formerly known as The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was formerly known as The Ottoman Empire, which was formerly known as The Desert in Between Greece and Persia: HLFOC. (History Lesson Free of Charge.) After making quick work of a metric ton of generously buttered popcorn and 128 oz. of Diet Coke, Peter’s eyes fought their way over his paunched cheeks to catch a glimpse of a whole pool of his former selves--a jumble of toned forearms and taut abdomens churning and jostling but most importantly: smiling. Right then and there Peter realized that Willy Wonka’s Golden ticket paled in comparison to the Olympic Gold he had once sought. He borrowed his friend’s P90X DVD and got his pump on. Today, a slimmed down Peter is headed to London in a normal-sized Speedo. Pretty cool story, and now you know one thing about the 6’5”, 230 pound defenseman with an MBA from Stanford, who’s married to actress and associate producer of American Gangster, Sarah Hudnut.

Needless to say, Peter’s story inspired me. I want to marry an actress and/or associate producer. I’m not ready to give up on my dreams either. I sent a message to my swing/life coach. I don’t like to drop names but he may have a show on The Golf Channel that rhymes with The Folf Gix (Michael Breed). I told him that I was ready to take my game back. He was as energetic as always and every Monday from 7:00 to 8:00 PM EST, I worked on my game with Mr. Breed.

So here we are now: Three months removed from the Charleston debacle and my golf game is back in magnificent form. While Michael deserves a fair amount of credit, my game wouldn’t be where it is today without Bob Costas and Peter Hudnut. They are why I’m excited about the London Olympics: The athletes, their stories, and their pursuit of greatness. Who will be this year’s Rulon Gardner? Who will we draw inspiration from following the 30th Olympiad?

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