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Tee Time

POSTED July 7, 2009 3:48 p.m.
I am preparing to play my first real golf game. I’ve been taking private lessons with a pro for a little while and it’s time to hit the links. My significant other — who’s always itching to play golf — says I’m ready for a round. I’m not sure that I feel ready but I’m going to give it a try anyway. Until now, about the closest I’ve gotten to playing is driving the cart.
I’ve wanted to learn to golf for a number of years, I’ve always thought of it as a good business skill to have, and I enjoy various sports. In college, I tried to enroll in golf instruction, but I could never get it to work out with my schedule. A few years later, I signed up for some group lessons at a course. I was ready and totally committed, but after about three lessons I was in a car accident that sidelined me for quite a while. I was even involved with planning a couple charity golf tournaments, but I never played in them. The time seemed to slip away and I didn’t get back to it until recently.
My significant other has worked with me periodically out on the driving range but eventually admitted he didn’t have the patience. When we were first dating, he’d told me that he would be glad to teach me to golf. Funny how things change after knowing someone for a while. Well, he knew a good pro and he set up a meeting.
Working with the pro has been great; it’s been a steep learning curve for me. Trying to remember to do of all these things at once is probably the biggest challenge. I have to make sure the club head is square. Stand with my feet shoulder width apart. Make sure my grip is right. Bend my knees. Don’t lean. Don’t hunch. Keep my eye on the ball and don’t move my head until my right shoulder moves it. Pronate my hands. Finish up on the right toe correctly. And more. There are all these little nuances that make a huge difference in how the ball travels. There are so many things that can go wrong.
On the course tonight I hope my innate athletic ability will kick in and I’ll be a natural like Annika Sorenstam.
Well, it’s like that in my dreams.
After all, I’m starting my game as a 30-something not as a 12-year-old. Right now, I’d be happy to be able to play like I look like I know what I’m doing.
Actually, my goal at this point is to be able to play respectably alongside my significant other — and maybe even beat him a few times.
When I say play “respectably,” I mean in ability and behavior.
Golf is one of those sports that can cause grown ups to act like children at times because it can be quite frustrating. It’s quite a show to watch.
I’ve asked my guy to be patient with me when we play and he’s agreed. However, I know him well and believe it would be best to start out with just playing nine holes for this first time.
It’s difficult when you’re a new golfer playing alongside an experienced golfer. I’ll probably be self-conscious because he’ll be watching and I’ll feel the pressure of needing to not take too long. I know enough about golf etiquette to not hold up the golfers behind me. My guy will probably be fine for a while but he might start in with the heavy sighing and throat clearing before we’re done, wanting me to hurry up, even if there are no golfers behind us. At which point I’ll remind him that he insisted I was ready.
He has this saying, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” I know I’ll never be able to out-drive him, he mashes the ball and out-drives most everyone. So if I’m to ever stand a chance, I’ve got to out-putt him. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen though for quite some time, as I’m rather terrible at Putt-Putt. But I’ve been practicing and I might be better at it now that I’ve had a few lessons. Still, I know I’ve got a ways to go.
Golf is a sport we can actually play together, not just watch together. It’ll be fine as long as I don’t look like a “Caddyshack” reject… Oh wait, they were all rejects on Caddyshack. Well, as Carl the assistant greenskeeper (Bill Murray’s character) would say, “This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere… It’s in the hole!”

Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at dhenley@oakdaleleader.com or by calling 847-3021.

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