Play ball?

I’m golfing today – well, let me rephrase that.  I’m going out with three other people who have promised to humor me in my efforts to round out their foursome. Tom, my husband, gets out on the course about three times a month.  Norbert and Jane hit the links a few times a week.  They are good friends and insist that it will be fun and no one will laugh, at least not to my face.

I’ve shaken hands with a golf club a few times in my life.  When I still worked in the business world, a couple of guys I worked with organized an unofficial golf tournament each year.  They begged me to participate, not because of my golfing prowess, but because I held the keys to the marketing storage room.  I’d pull out old golf balls, hats, and any other leftover items for prizes and giveaways. I’d get a clean storage room and they’d walk away with their arms full of free stuff.  It was a match made in heaven, until they’d get me on the golf course.  When it was time to sign up to play, I’d demur, but the guys always cajoled me into it, probably because they wanted to keep their free prizes coming.

Many years later I dated an avid golfer.  Why? I don’t know. He lived on the back nine of a golf course and played every possible day he could. On weekends he’d drag me out to join him. He’d golf and I’d run around the course like a kid. “You’re a natural athlete,” he’d say every time he convinced me to go to the driving range. Once in awhile, I’d wallop the ball but you can only do that so many times before your wrist goes numb.  Those driving ranges are intimidating, too. I’d watch serious people taking serious swings and think to myself, “seriously? It’s only a game.”  

Last week, after a nice dinner at the local Asian BBQ, we drank wine on Norbert and Jane’s back patio which overlooks the Superstition Mountain golf course.  “Let’s get together next week to play.” I’m not sure if it was the beautiful sunset slipping down the mountainside, the peace that comes with a full belly, or the wine molecules coursing through my veins, but suddenly, after years of avoiding fairways and putting greens, I was committed. Sigh.

I’ve never understood the allure of golf. Yes, the courses are pretty with their sweeping expanses of perfect green broken up by water hazards and sand traps. Those little carts are a kick, too. But there are problems besides my lack of stance and swing. The big issue for me is a lack of target. It’s damn hard to figure out exactly where you’re supposed to be aiming your ball. This is America, after all – why not supersize those flags so a person can see them?  Once I do hit the ball (after my usual two or three swings and misses), I lose it in the sun – or the grass – or the rough.  They tell you to keep your eye on the ball but don’t lift your head! Don’t drop your shoulder, keep your arm straight, and don’t break your wrist. I am simply not that coordinated to remember it all without some kind of operating manual.

Its one hour and 45 minutes to tee time and the temperature is already 88 degrees. I showered and dressed in my gray cargo shorts, my new red, sleeveless gauze shirt, and my Ecco walking sandals. I thought I looked cute but Tom took one look at me and said, “Is that what you’re wearing? There’s a dress code, you know.” Golf is not an easy game to play but dressing for it is even more difficult. You need collared shirts, little plaid shorts, and matching golf socks and shoes, none of which I have.  Then there is an assortment of woods, irons, tees, towels, and balls plus a bag to put them in. Again, none of that can be found in my closet. Resigned, I changed to an old blue short sleeved shirt and my black walking shorts but I refused to ditch the sandals. “My feet get too hot, then they get sweaty and then they get stinky!” I wailed. Tom gave me a big hug and said “Everything will be OK.”

One hour and 35 minutes to tee time and the wind is really kicking up out there for which I am grateful.  It gives me the perfect excuse for my soon to be apparent lack of golf skills.  Surprisingly, I am relatively calm about the whole thing. You see, the way I figure it, once everyone sees how horrible I am at this game, they’ll never ask me to play again.


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