For the love of the game ...

June 28, 2016

I was raised in a golf family.

 

My uncle Frank was a golf pro and although he and his family lived a few hours away, I can recall many trips to see them and time spent on the golf courses he managed. Driving around in carts. Hunting for balls. Never had ANY desire AT ALL to pick up a club and try the game. I was 10 and I was driving!!  I played every sport but - volleyball, tennis, and 25 years on third base and short stop for softball. 

 

Golf? Tried it literally one day in college. Signed up for golf as my sports elective. Showed up. Whiffed the ball about 80 times and opted for ice skating. 

 

Enter my husband of almost 6 years, Andy. Lifetime achievement award barefoot golfer. Needs no practice swings. Can hit any ball. Often plays 18 holes with just a 9 iron. Can hit a 200 yard drive with that 9 iron left handed. When he is right handed. Maybe left handed with a blind fold after drinking a bottle of red while eating a bag of cheetos in the other hand. You get it. Brutal. 

 

He is THAT good.

 

It was about 6 months into our relationship - our first Valentine's Day to be exact. And instead of traditional roses and chocolates I got ... a pink and white golf bag, a few hand me down clubs and balls. 

 

UGH. (Was he breaking up with me? Cause clearly this was NOT going to foster long term anything like going to sleep not angry ). Nevertheless,  I got the message. You want to play with me you learn to play golf. 

 

This was 8 years ago. And I dabbled. And I whined. And I gin and tonic - ed. And I showed up in the cutest golf outfits. Choked down a few cigars and I made an ass of myself to myself because frankly no one else cared that I played like I was the #1 draft pick for team Helen Keller. I was neither a natural driver nor a genetically gifted chipper and putter. But I was enthusiastic. I wanted the game. I was determined to play if not like a champion, at least with some dignity. I always brought great snacks to eat and the golf shoes I found on Ebay were darling. 

 

I was IN. 

 

Let me preface by saying that golf is not easy. It is like physics on steroids. V x EM2 + 2 degrees left - wind gust - bird overhead - minus grass eight + tree root span divided by 100 yards + 100 degree lateral tee slope and a blue flag downhill = par. And I suck at math. Perpetual motion. Velocity meets gravity in a pendulum swing that the guys make look so easy but in reality, it takes about 1000 perfectly timed steps for that skinny club to smack that ridiculously small dimpled ball.  All while trying to breathe because you are wearing upper lift and shape and lower suck-it-all-in industrial strength spanx under that tiny skirt.  18 holes of golf can take up to 5 hours depending on day and busyness of course. NO time to hit the gym. It is mental exercise. Not cardio. 

 

Every man I have ever golfed with says the concept of golf is simple. Followed by perpetual belching and a lot of time chasing lost balls in the woods. 

 

Choose one of maybe 14 clubs based on how far you have to go and where you are headed which should be simple because who cannot eyeball and determine distance, wind speed, odds of hitting a tree limb, odds of killing a swan and her babies? Head down. Eyes on the ball. Hands in correct place on club. Lock fingers or not? Glove or no glove. How will club face address the ball? Where are your feet? How far away from ball? Slight bend at the waist. Boobs down. Eyes on the ball. Tee set high enough? Tee set low enough? What do you mean I cannot use tee on fairway? How do you hit ball out of grass without it?? Drag club back. Left arm straight. Club behind head. Easy now. (I cannot see WHAT club is doing back there). Eyes on ball!!!!! Do not try to kill it. Easy swing. Like a pendulum. Left arm leading. Pull it thru. Eyes on ball!!! DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THAT BALL EVEN AFTER BALL IS NO LONGER THERE!!! Smack. It goes two feet. 

 

"YOU TOOK YOUR EYES OFF THE BALL!!!"

 

Drink. 

 

 That first summer out I was finally catching on. I could hit the ball. Much to learn, but I was holding my own. Feeling good. Until I decided to take a lesson or two from a pro. Who told me after I paid for 8 lessons that I was doing everything wrong. So I had to start over. 

 

You see basically I had NO help. I was out of the tee box from hole 1 with no direction. Other than telling me over and over again in a tee box one soft and loving tone to a tee box 18 "If you would just listen to me and keep your damn eyes on the ball you would NOT be crying right now." 

 

I took two years off. By now I was married to Andy and I felt like he was ashamed to bring me along. His best buddy and his girl were phenomenal golfers. No matter what I did, I could not get in sync. 

 

By 2015 I wanted back in. I was horrible. Square one. But something in me still ached to meet the challenge. So I decided to have an affair with golf last summer. Just about every free second I had was spent at a driving range. On the course.  Sometimes 36 holes in sweltering heat. I kept my eye on the ball. I watched golf on TV. I followed golf instructions on you tube. I watched Tin Cup and Bagger Vance. I chose to grip my club like Tiger Woods and waddle like Ben Hogan. I decided to be a champion in my own mind. I played with friends who were uplifting and generous with their help. Every person I played with had a puzzle piece to my game and I took all of their tips and tricks and glued them all together. I did not give up. For four + hours a day, sometimes 5 days a week, I allowed my mind to focus on nothing but hitting a little pink ball ... until I discovered that little pink ball could be the reason my distance was not so good. And I got better balls. For women. And I learned what clubs did what and before you know it, I was safe on the fairways, occasionally out driving my husband and smoking a second cigar while the boys of summer looked for their balls in the patches of poison ivy. Bwaaaaahhh. 

 

"Come on guys! Drop one. The course is stacked today." Hahahahahahahahahahaahha. 

 

My first scramble tournament last fall? Won it!!! Team Marie, Lori, Debbie Lu and Joette. Some Hail Mary putting to be sure. In the pouring rain. 58 degrees. Wearing a rain jacket. Second tournament was in April. We won it. Helped to have two guys on the team that did most of the hard work. Third scramble tournament was last week. Won it! 8 over.  I have added three new hybrids, three used hybrids that are my lucky charms and a new chipper. All men's clubs. Hmmmmmmm.  My favorite club is my 9 iron. It loves me. I have asked my husband for a #Callaway super sonic men's driver, a new supple golf glove and the chance to play on a different course for my 55th birthday. Double nickels and the average woman would be requesting diamonds. I guess that puts me under par :) in the world of ladies.  

 

I LOVE golf. It is the most frustratingly fabulous game I have ever played. Much like marriage. There is little these days that excites me more than being able to use my new five hybrid to hit a ball across this big ass lake with no tee and land on the green.  And the blood curdling scream that follows! There is immeasurable joy in a birdie. In having YOUR ball chosen to play in a scramble. In sinking a game winning 57 foot putt that was chipped off the fringe and rolled miraculously down a hill, to the right, to the left and IN.  The tenth hole hot dog stand and a cold beer. Finding a hot pink #Callaway ball. A tee off that goes straight up the fairway 193 yards. (we have a watch that measures distance). Your first 18 holes under 100. Golfing with your dad for the first time EVER at age 54 on a course on Sanibel Island and having him be impressed. Followed by him surprising you with a new flowered golf skirt and matching shirt! 

 

In case you are wondering how this ends, know that is doesn't.  Golden girls golf. I am ready to be a snowbird in Florida in 10 years and spend my afternoons teeing off, still wearing size 10 Lily Pulitzer-like flower power outfits. And who says you can't teach an old doll new tricks. Never give up! 

 

 

 

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