My Own Golf Lesson

One could hardly call me a serious golfer. I seem to play on alternate decades – if that. I can remember taking it back up about 30 years ago – after a hiatus of 10-15 years, and on my first hole – a little 3 par– I pared it – my first attempt. It was the first hole in years and it seemed so …. effortless.

 And I’m thinking “What’s the big deal about this game?”

 Over the next 8 holes, my bad habits, long dormant, started coming back. It was all downhill starting at the 2nd hole.

 I have concluded that to master the game one has to train all these muscles that were never intended to work together.

 There are people for whom this diabolical sport is easy. One of them you might not have thought of – but look at this demonstration from…..Katherine Hepburn.

 My short game and long game are always at odds with each other. If I get to the green in 2, generally it will take me 3 or more on the green …to sink the ball.

 And if I sink it in 1 putt, it took me so long to get there it really doesn’t matter.

 It’s a game that is played in the head a lot more than many realize.

 I learned a lot from Arnold Palmer. I saw him at a Seniors Tournament, and was standing about 10 feet from him. I did not realize that even the pros will practice at a driving range before starting the tournament.

 And they don’t hit the balls at the range like we do. Arnie would hit the ball, then take a moment to think about what he did right – and what he did wrong.

 I’m thinking if the great Arnold Palmer after over 40 years on the tour still approached the game with respect where does that leave the average amateur?

 It is a humbling sport.

 For the first few years when I played, I thought I was pretty good.

 One summer when I was back in West Virginia, I even let my aunt know about my prowess.

On more than one occasion. We happened to be traveling near Parsons as I recall.

 My aunt, who was a decent golfer, thought it would be good to play a 9 hole round and because we weren’t prepared, even rented us some clubs.

 She bought a new Titleist for each of us and said to me “Now if you lose it and can’t find another the game is over”.

 At least for me.

 At the first tee, I proudly strutted up there – hit it – and…..sliced it right into the rough.

 After 10 minutes of searching I could not find my ball but found someone else’s.

 To add to my embarrassment, the next 8 holes went the same way. I didn’t always lose the ball at the drive, but by the time we reached the green you can be sure it was a different ball. This was the rule for every single hole. It was as if the golf gods (if any exist) took umbrage at my arrogance and decided to teach me a lesson.

My aunt, not surprisingly, ended the game with the same ball.

 Golf can sure be a humbling experience.

 But then I can remember playing early in the morning years ago and sinking a 50 foot putt. The line was not level and you could see the trajectory that ball took – not straight – but a beautiful long curve in the morning dew right to the hole.

 And since it was 6:30AM there were no witnesses.

 Only I knew what a beautiful putt that really was.

 Even Arnold would have been pleased if that was his.

 Then there was the time when I had such a beautiful drive – the ball seemed to hang in the sky forever – – until it descended back to earth straight for the hole.

 I have had so few of those truly memorable shots. But I guess it is those that keep me coming back.

 Maybe this is the decade.



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6 responses to “My Own Golf Lesson

  1. My dad always contended that golf was an expensive way to ruin a nice walk…

  2. My son was great and could beat me hands down. The great irony for me, was knowing that I’d bought those fancy carbon shafted super clubs for him.

    • Bill Brandt

      I have always felt as I am hacking my way up the fairway, that if a pro were to take my clubs he could make music with them.

      There is a story I have heard for years – of Sam Snead betting a reporter that he could take a stick – whittled – and beat the reporter with a full set of clubs.

      Well, Snead lost, but not by much.

  3. Laurie H.

    I have many great memories linked to playing golf, I love the sport even though I am literally terrible in it. Nevertheless, since I am not so competitive I could look through that and still have a good time with friends or colleagues. Great way of team building, that golf thing is.
    It sure gives me time to relax and think. What I love the most is the surrounding. A golf course can be a beautiful place, a paradise in the middle of a jungle. I play here, my peaceful place Quilchena Golf and Country Club.

    • Bill Brandt

      It is a beautiful course, Laurie! One of my memorable courses is here:

      While I have never played in Scotland, much less been there, it is what I would imagine a good Scottish course to be – fairways with a lot of “nooks and crannies” – you could actually hit the ball straight down the fairway and lose it!

      And here’s the kicker – some of the holes had narrow fairways with homes on either side – and large plate glass windows begging you to hook or slice.

      They expected regular window damage and I think set up a fund for it.

      Still, knowing my propensity to hit the ball anywhere but straight at the tee, I chip shotted up those fairways!

      But it was a beautiful, memorable course.

      With courses like yours and mine, Mark Twain’s admonition of golf being “a good walk spoiled” does not hold water.

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