LS Place

07/07/2001

How not to Golf

I played golf today. And I use the word "played" very loosely. Considering that this is only the second time that I have been out on a golf course, I cannot in good faith, say that I actually played golf.

My first time on the golf course was for my brother-in-law's bachelor party about 3 years ago. At the time, my brother-in-law, Bill had just started playing golf seriously so the idea of getting all his friends and family together on a golf course was a great idea for him. Since I had never played before, I borrowed a set of clubs and went to a driving range a couple of days before the party. I hit a bunch of balls really poorly and just at the bottom of the bucket, started to hit a ball with a driver pretty well. So the next morning, I went out and hacked at the ball all day long. I made it abundantly clear that it was my first time golfing so there was really no pressure on me. The only time I felt any performance anxiety was at the first tee. With a bunch of guys watching me, I nervously got up and smacked a pretty good drive. The rest of the day was a good time. I shot something like 150+ (I stopped counting at one point). Then we went to someone's house for lotsa beer and poker.

Since that time, Bill has become pretty good at golf. Whenever we get together, he asks if I've ever gotten to play again. I always say no, because with Claudine's schedule, I really can't spare a solid 4 or 5 hours at a time to play golf. So this year for my birthday, Bill arranged for his mom (my Mother-in-law, of course) to watch the boys while he took me out to play golf. Now, while Bill was getting good at golf, I was getting good at collecting all sorts of golf equipment. I bought a set of clubs at a garage sale. It had a great driver, and pretty good 3-wood, a bunch of partially rusty irons, a ratty old golf bag and no putter. Then someone was cleaning their house and gave me a nice golf bag. When I found out I was getting a round of golf for my birthday, I told Claudine that I needed to get a putter. She told her mom, so her mom got me a putter as a birthday present.

Besides collecting paraphernalia, I occasionally took that great driver out to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls. It was fun and I felt that I was keeping part of that little golf subculture. Of course, this made me a worse golfer. Something I didn't realize at the time, is that when you think while playing golf, you are in real trouble. And if you read anything about golf before you get out and think about golf while actually playing golf, you are in a world of trouble. I didn't know this at the time. So I was trying to keep my left arm straight, my club face open, my back swing low, my follow through consistent, my eye on the ball, my weight on my right foot... blah, blah, blah, golfcakes. Again, I went to the driving range the day before I got on the course. I was shanking balls left and right.

So it was with this fine technique that I ventured out onto the golf course with Bill, my brother-in-law. And again, on the first tee, with strangers watching, I went to hit my first ball. And I missed. When I say missed, I mean to say, swung wildly and dug up a huge divot that went flying. Yes, I smacked a hunk of dirt farther than I hit the ball. Now I am really nervous for some reason. So I take another swing at it. And I miss again. Finally, I take a wild swing and hit the ball possible 40 yards off to the left of the fairway. Bill smacks a drive about 200 yards or so. We hop in the cart to drive to my ball. I ask Bill what club to use, because I have no idea. I pull out a 8 iron. Bill kind of looks at it strangely. He asks me to hand it to him and he holds it next to his 8 iron. Bill is about 5'11" or so. I'm 6'1". My 8 iron is shorter than his (Hmmm, that's an odd sentence). Anyway it turns out that the set of clubs that I bought at a garage sale, the set of clubs I am going to use for the rest of the day, are for a much, much, shorter man. I make my shot as best I can, and then as we drive off down the fairway for a fun relaxing day of golf, my golf bag tumbles off the back of the cart as I had forgotten to refasten it.

The day turned out much better than I am presenting here. After we moved away from the people on first tee it was just Bill and me playing. Bill was very patient with me. He knows I'm kind of a goofball and he's very laid back. He told me a few things to try, things which had varying degrees of success. Finally, I was sucking so badly that I stopped caring and just starting screwing around. And that was when I made my best shots. I became an OK golfer when I stop trying to play golf.