Golf makes me unstable. I am, for the most part, mild-mannered. Call me names, insult me, chances are I can take it in stride. But put a 3-wood in my hands and all innocence is lost. I hate that little white ball.
Over the weekend, in a misguided attempt to enjoy the sunny weather, I decided to humiliate myself. After a brief outing on the driving range at Buffalo Hills, just enough time to start the formation of two dime-sized blisters on my right hand, I found myself standing at the first tee box, confused and wishing that everybody around me would have the decency to close their eyes while I shot. But instead they all insisted on watching. So I walked up to the ball and tried to mimic what I had seen on TV the few occasions golf came on and I couldn’t find the remote to change the channel. I feigned focus. Then I became dangerous – I swung.
Fortunately for the unsuspecting onlookers, I barely made contact and sent the ball dribbling across the grass – a worm-burner if you will. It traveled roughly 20 feet forward and 130 feet to the right, a mystifying angle that, despite the ball’s minimal velocity, raised the alert levels of a few bystanders. Nobody would be safe at Buffalo Hills on this fine April day.
My golfing partner, Kellyn Brown, kindly mentioned that at least I hit it past the women’s tee box. Apparently, in keeping with revered golf tradition, pain of some kind is inflicted upon the chump who is unable to clear the women’s tee box. Perhaps the pain is only emotional, perhaps not. I had no intentions of finding out, so I established a goal for the day: for the next 17 holes, always get past the women’s tee if nothing else. That was the goal. I failed.
Luckily, Kellyn and I were paired with a friendly couple. On busy days, twosomes have to be paired with other twosomes for the sake of speeding up the game. The wife happened to be the aunt of a couple of our friends, so she took pity on my deprived, golfless soul. Both she and her husband offered encouragement, and extra golf balls, after I launched no less than nine balls into the abyss, never to be seen again by man.
It would be unwise to underestimate the emotional rollercoaster that occurs during 18 holes, more than four hours, of golf. Especially when you have little to no idea what you’re doing. My frustration level at one point grew beyond basic aggravation and blossomed into legitimate, paralyzing anger. I recall loudly comparing the afternoon to a four-hour root canal. It is a truly remarkable, if not shocking, sensation.
But eventually as dusk began to fall and the 18th hole neared, I slipped into a kind of defeated resignation that could almost pass as relaxation. And upon reflection, I think I may have strangely enjoyed myself. It is the enigma of golf, a sport where people find themselves threatening clumps of grass and cautiously eyeing a small white ball as if it has its own motives, only to later brag about how fantastic their day was. People usually come back for more. I’m sure I’ll be no different.
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