The wife and I just wrapped up the six-month process known as buying our first home. It was an eye-opening experience, and one that paralleled the game of golf in so many ways.
From the frustration to the obsession to the joy of finally finding what you've invested so much time and energy into, the similarities are eerie, for someone as mad about golf as I am. Two weeks into the new house, the most pressing question is just how much all the lawn mowing, pool vacuuming, and bathtub caulking will cut into my time at the course.Countless Time Online, Learning Lots of Nothing
In the house hunt, there's no shortage of internet listings, photos, and historical data. But we quickly learned that what you see on your computer and on a map will never convey what it looks like in person. Similarly, in this day and age, you'll never lack information, specs, and reviews of whatever piece of equipment you're looking for. Some of it is great, but much of it is useless until you get the club in your hands. One person's whippy shaft might be a telephone pole to you. The same way that "spacious" second bedroom turned out to be a glorified closet.
An All-Consuming Process, and Futile at the Same Time
How many times have you added up the scorecard in the clubhouse, holding your head in your hands, wondering how all the time you've spent on the range could add up to another disappointing round? Well, as we learned during the house hunt, there were plenty of deflated dinners, with a pile of MLS printouts serving as placemats, wondering how we could have wasted ANOTHER entire Saturday looking at homes that couldn't possibly work. Amazing how words like daunting, dire and difficult come so easily to both golf and real estate.
You Don't Know What "It" is, Until You Find "It"
You might not know what it is you're looking for, but when you stumble into "it," you just know. And it's like magic. Think of the times your golf game suddenly clicks, when all the work pays off, the hours on the putting green turn into five more up-and-downs than normal, and you shoot your career score. You didn't know what exactly that career round would look like, or feel like. And when you find the perfect house, it's the same sensation. All the pieces of the wish list gather into one home, as well as things you'd never realized you'd want. The street is perfect, the taxes are lower than you'd braced for, and of the four towns you were searching in, this one's got the best schools. In golf terms, it's an eagle when a birdie was all you were hoping for.
A Mental Coach Can Come in Handy
There's always a bump in the road, regardless of whether you're playing that fantasy round, or if you're getting ready to close on that dream home. Lip out a putt. Find out the mortgage company needs more paperwork. A ball plugs in the bunker. The appraisal takes two weeks longer than expected. That pure six-iron you hit into the 15th green hits firm and vanishes into the rough just over the green. The lawyer's office is swamped and didn't realize they need more paperwork, too. No problem. Control what you can, stay focused, and decide what you have to do to get back on track. Don't dwell on the mistakes, just solve them.
Enjoy the Honeymoon - Who Knows How Long it Will Last
Everyone's had that driver that can't miss a fairway - for a week. And a putter that sinks five straight from 25 feet - for a week. It's only a matter of time, and as I've learned already, the honeymoon ends quickly. Was it the $200 in pool chemicals to turn the water from pond green back to crystal clear (and yes, there were plenty of, "We have a pool and a pond… pond would be better for you" references)? How about the leak into the basement ceiling that wound up with me and a caulk gun having a wrestling match in the bathroom? The same way those arrow-straight bombs eventually turn into pull hooks and the putter runs out of magic, with a little bit (sometimes a lot) of work, the rewards will justify the effort.
It's a Journey, and One Worth Taking (Hopefully)
We're less than two weeks into living the American dream, but it's been a fun - if not rocky - run so far. The hunt was an emotional roller coaster, closing was stressful, the move was overwhelming, and the first BBQ was as hectic as it was exciting. If I didn't know any better, I'd have just described my experiences in golf, and can only hope that the years ahead in our first home will be as great an adventure as the two decades I've had in golf: Plenty of highs and lows, but in the end, a journey worth taking.