Back on the Course

Through the course of the cold, dark New England winter, the thought that keeps me from being wrapped in canvas and tossed in a rubber room is that one day, the earth will be green again, and there will be golf.  Today, I took part in my first official day of spring by digging my clubs out of their closet of exile and making my way to the golf course.  The plan was to try to get through hitting a bucket of balls without injuring myself.  It’s hard to ease one’s way back into golf.  I’ve been looking forward to this day since about the 2nd week of November, and the urge to jump right in and overdo it is almost overwhelming.  As I pulled into the parking lot of Ludlow Country Club, I started to get caught up in the excitement of the moment.  My plan to just hit a bucket of balls drifted out the car window on the warm spring breeze.  “Why just hit a bucket,” I thought.  “I can get a much better gauge of where my swing is if I get out there and play a few holes.”  Caution and prudence be damned, I was gonna jump right in.

Luckily, I had time to think it over before I hopped on the first tee.  Actually, it happened more this way; after limbering up while waiting in the line to tee off, I took a practice swing.  It was one of those swings where the club hits the ground about 8 inches too early and takes up enough turf that you can roll up your divot and re-sod half of your front yard.  Sheepishly, I had to admit to myself that I was nowhere near ready to step out on that tee.  Chastened by the amount of earth I had just excavated, I headed into the pro shop to buy a bucket of range balls.

Things did not improve on the range.  I don’t know why, but most golfers seem to suffer from the notion that, despite not having picked up a club in 5 months, their swing will just magically re-emerge from the hiatus and suffer no ill effects.  That illusion was shattered when each of my first 5 shots traveled at a 45 degree angle relative to my target.  In layman’s terms, I was shanking the hell out of the ball.  Of course, I immediately tried to correct the problem, which resulted in everything ending up short and right. Deep breath time, time to remember that the whole reason I was even on that driving range was to ease back into playing and just enjoy the fact that I was playing golf instead of scraping ice off my windshield.

An amazing thing happens when you can just force yourself to relax over the ball.  More often than not, you hit a good shot.  With my expectations lowered from “qualify for the US Open” down to “enjoy swinging a golf club,” the results improved markedly.  I’m still not ready to play a full round yet, but at least I was hitting acceptable 8 irons.  More than anything, it was great just to be back out on green grass with a warm breeze caressing my skin.  Ultimately, that’s why I play this game.  Sure, it feels nice to be able to card a good score, but the real joy is being outdoors on a beautiful day, with good company and good conversation, and hopefully at least a half-dozen good shots.  It’s golf season again, and that’s a beautiful thing.

~ by schlippo on April 15, 2010.

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