Photo Credit : Octavio Passos

I’m just a writer, but I’m going to do my best to paint you a picture. It’s a modern-day circus but with a twist of golf. The characters are women, athletes, plying their craft on the green landscapes of a golf course. Some travel in packs and others alone. Regardless, we all follow a parade of vans that arrive at a new spot each week. On the way, we drive through corn fields, big cities and small towns. Our lives are compacted into a few suitcases that we unpack and repack on repeat. We rest our heads on different pillows and often scarf down meals with our foot on the gas. We juggle all of this while still searching for that perfect performance each week.

The circus is a beast. And you have to pull back the curtain to see its true beauty.

Like any traveling troop, our time on the road is far from pretty. The day off spent on a lake or other beautiful site in a dreamy destination is rarer than most observers know. I once had expectations that each week would offer at least one of those majestic moments. In my second year, I’ve learned that the beauty in the beast of this journey comes in a different form, one far richer, more meaningful, and in the long term more rewarding than any picture stored in a camera roll.

It’s an image, a feeling, and a drive that burns deep in our souls. It’s a flame that, at times, resembles the slow burn of a candle. But at its peak it roars larger and hotter than a bonfire and glows with a splendor that could never be captured in an Instagram post.

The beauty in the beast is this desire that lives in our hearts. Each week 130-plus girls arrive at a new tournament site. Each one has endured long days of travel, discomfort from arriving at a new destination. We are either riding a high from a good week prior or rebounding from a few bad days in a sport that is full of them. When compared to our friends and family who are at home, basking in the comfort of familiar surroundings, our lives probably don’t seem that appealing. I have also viewed the world through that lens before. It is appealing, especially when the aches of loneliness flare up like a recurring disease.

But there is also the common bond that most people can’t see.

We are chasing dreams. We are giving up what is easy now for what we hope will be rewarding later on. Over a hundred girls are sacrificing the security of a job to hunt down their pay checks week to week. They are betting on themselves, investing their time, dollars, energy, and inspiration for a monetary return, but more importantly, for pride. Pride they can hang their hat on and say, “I did it.” And, if they don’t make it, they can rest in the knowledge that they gave their absolute all. In the end, it’s not about the adulation, not about the applause from fans. It’s the occasional fist pump and the “yeah,” that sometimes escapes our own quivering lips that matter most.

This image was seen when Ashleigh Buhai won the AIG Women’s Open. She’s spent 15 years running through the fire and fighting with the beast. After four playoff holes, everyone got to see the beauty that she knew was there all along.

When the final putt dropped, she didn’t even know how to react. Shocked and overcome by emotion, she pulled her hat down over her face and allowed her emotions to flow. There was simple beauty in her stillness. After 221 chances, she realized her first victory.

Her husband’s excitement was hard to contain. Dave Buhai tossed his hat in the crowd, sprinted to his wife, grabbed her, kissed her, and lifted her into the air.

No words were needed. They had tamed the beast and revealed its beauty. We are just a handful of people privileged enough to run through this fire, to have passion that pushes us past the pain; to confront the moment in front of us while never losing sight of the one at the end of the tunnel. For when we see that light at the end, the bonfire in the distance we have searched long and hard to find, we’ll see the journey in total.

And when we see it, we will also see the beauty in our beast.