My Pristine Canvas

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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This morning I was blessed with the spectacular view of the golf course that only happens a few times. It snowed last night and the course this morning had not a track or blemish on it. It was my pristine canvas. Normally a day without golf or golfers is not a happy one for golf professionals but today was indeed special.

I can now successfully reassess my golf game, take time to honestly look at the positives and the negatives and that would never happen without a blank canvas. I can see the bunkers outlined clearly and the fairways soft and inviting, those tiny greens now look like gems suspended by pillars of white and I can clearly see the ease they can hold my shots into them.

These greens do not look like rolling monsters that were designed to kill my dreams and bring me back to the reality of the four putt, no these are the gentle curves blended into the hills with subtle slopes which will tickle my fancy and make the mundane so exciting. These surfaces were made to allow me to use them to my advantage, to use the slopes to deaden the speed and widen the hole. No…these surfaces are for my ultimate enjoyment.

I look over a vast untouched canvas that awaits my brushstrokes and color, only I can paint this picture and only I can have the brush. This is what we should be looking for in our game, not the crunch of numbers that tells us our angle of attack or the spin of our tee shots. No…it should be one of sight, sound and color because that is what we respond to. But, we can only see this with a blank canvas that invites our imagination. My brain does not care what the loft of my driver is, it does not care where the flex point in my 5 iron is, and it does not care about the bounce of my wedge. It only cares about the picture I want to paint.

The brilliance of the unpainted canvas before me begs not to be touched in a way that would cause a scar on it, it asks for the strokes to be flowing with the grace and magnificent beauty of the golf course. I can see the shades of green that would peek through the white and can see where to place my shot. I can follow my clear path on the height and trajectory of my ball with only the backdrop of the clear blue crisp cold sky to illuminate my ball. My ball drops to earth and disappears in the blanket of snow to further show me that I place too much value on outcome not the enjoyment.

I thank God for these days, as they will forever remind me that I am but a speck on a canvas that was designed by something so beautiful that a mere glimpse of that beauty can cause a grown man to take a knee and give thanks.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email