Golfing With My Husband Was Fun? Really it Was!
Golf balls personify treachery
My husband introduced me to golf anticipating as we aged a stroll over grassy greens on a warm summer day would provide relaxation and recreation.
Well, after nearly four decades of wedded bliss, walks in the park sounded inviting. I figured if he is going to golf, I will learn to golf. This also followed the advice Mom shared just before walking down the aisle. “If he gets in the car, climb in beside him.”
Because of this dictate, I learned to water ski, snowmobile, shoot a 22 and hunt. (I don’t kill deer, just walk around looking for them so some might call it hiking.) Over the years, Randy gave gifts encouraging my involvement in his interests: a bowling bag, a motorcycle helmet, snow boots and a pistol. Five years ago, we purchased Harley Davidson Motorcycles, his an Ultra Classic and mine a sleek, sexy, black Street Guide. Following Mom’s guidance, we ride beside each other.
Over time, extreme sports offer less appeal and more pain. Thus, I felt no surprise when Randy gifted me a golf bag and clubs for my birthday allowing me to climb in beside him once again. In a short time, I learned several lessons altering my view of the sport.
A story of a round of golf with the lessons I learned
Last week, traveling and camping along the Oregon Coast provided time for several long, peaceful walks on the beach. At the end of the week the sound of the waves faded, and we found ourselves surrounded by the giant Redwoods. When we pulled into our RV spot, our eyes lit up to discover a golf course adjacent to the park. With a stroll on the beach unavailable, a walk among the majestic evergreens provided an exciting alternative. When we paid for our parking space, we made reservation to play a round.
The next morning, Randy parked a golf cart beside our travel trailer, handed me my shoes and prepared to chauffeur me to the course.
I climbed into my waiting chariot to sit “beside” my prince. The plush, green carpet of grass on the first tee box welcomed us. The soft ground accepted my yellow tee; the tee cradled my matching yellow ball. (No reason not to be stylish.) I dug through the twelve clubs (wondering why anybody needed twelve) and retrieved my 7-wood. (One of the four I would use.) Standing over the ball, I mentally scanned my checklist like a pilot performing a pre-flight inspection.
* Wrap hand around shaft of the driver.
* Interlock the fingers.
* Place feet on either side of the ball.
* Position back foot closer to the ball.
* Bend legs at knees — slightly.
* Line toes up with the flag. (Where is that flag?)
* Take a practice swing.
Damn! I was supposed to do that before positioning myself in front of the ball.
Now, a swing wouldn’t be rehearsal. Unfortunately, not the first time making this mistake, I stepped back, pendulumed the club, wiggled my hips to loosen up, and swiped at the imaginary ball. A tuft of dirt and grass sprayed the air. (Probably a good idea to practice.) A couple more swipes combined with a bash, whack and a smack completed my warm-up. The checklist recommenced.
* Wrap both hand around shaft of the driver with one below the other.
*Interlock the fingers with the right thumb under the left palm. (I need the stability.)
* Place feet on either side of the ball. (Remember to stand back the length of the club.)
* Position back foot closer to the ball. (There was that time . . . It didn’t work.)
* Bend legs at knees — slightly. (Excessive stooping results in a sore back and potholed ground.)
* Line toes up with the flag. (It’s that tiny, little, blue patch fluttering in the wind. No, that’s a bird. Look to the right.)
* Take a practice swing. (Did that! Move this to the top of the list next time.)
I gazed up to watch it fly — nothing. I glanced right and left — nope. Accusingly, I glared down to discover my ball smiling up at me.
As a helpful gesture to identify my ball, Randy had inked a smiley face on the dimpled cheeks of my golf ball. I heard it taunting, “Want to try that again?” At that moment, smacking the smile off the face of that ball sounded appealing but wouldn’t help my game so I began working through the checklist — again. Only this time revised step 7, “Don’t take your eye off the ball.”
I swung. It connected. The orb flew like a fledgling leaving its nest, bounced once and stopped 30 feet in front of me. The pre-flight routine occurred again, and again, and again — repeatedly. Each stroke achieving slightly more distance until Satan, (Yep, I named the ball.) rested on the edge of the green.
Fact #1: Golf is a game of unfair advantages.
As my procedure repeated, my husband, the pinnacle of patience, played his own game. With his first swing, the ball graced the sky like a soaring eagle. With poise and dignity, it settled on the edge of the green. (There’s that damn flag!) Adding supportive to his positive qualities, Randy rode in the cart beside me offering encouragement with each stroke as I made way down the fairway. Understand, he offered me a ride but the distance to the cart usually equaled the distance to the ball.
By the time we reached the green, I walked 260 yards repeatedly punching the object of my hostility and then putted three times to sink it. Randy two putted and made birdie. (That means he hit the ball one time less than the course designer expected.) My hostility shifted from the ball to the man.
On the third hole, Mr. Satan (I was learning to show some respect.) flew higher than any previous effort.
A hollow thunk sounded when he smacked a tree and the flight of a startled bird confirmed my suspicion. My spirits crashed upon discovering the blackberry patch beneath the mammoth oak had swallowed the devil. (I felt little sympathy for my ball and a lot of pity for myself.)
I searched until the thorns chased me away; however, not empty handed. My ball was gone, but berries rewarded my efforts. Sarcastically, Randy claimed my game might improve if I gave it as much attention. “The look” silenced him but I shared some berries.
Fact #2: Golf course owners and designers possess sick sense of humors
A sign at the tee box of the next hole declared it a par 5. Translating that to my language, it meant the hole was really, really long. I noticed the tee no longer easily pressed into ground as I needed to push down with my heel after scoping out a spot absent of rocks. Interesting how the landscaping deteriorated the further we climbed up the mountain. (Yes, I said mountain and climbed.) The angle increased proportionally to the temperature. We also noticed above ground tree roots thickened, the fairways grew narrower, and the greens were . . . . tacky?
Each hole offered a new challenge that (at first) I embraced. I can do this!
The purpose of the pond in the middle of the fairway of the fourth hole remained unclear.
Why anyone would intentionally dump yards of sand (in two different locations) on the fifth fairway confused my logic.
And the reasoning for cutting the lawn to different lengths seemed senseless as well as time consuming.
Fact #3: Golf is painful NOT relaxing.
By the time I walked onto the seventh tee box, my muscles ached. (Mathematician have probably already determined I had hit the ball a minimum of 70 times, not to mention the practice shots, the swings that missed the ball and the few that rototilled the earth.)
The sun baked all exposed limbs leaving me red and tender. Strolls on the beach had not conditioned me for mountain climbing so my thighs throbbed. Recognizing my fatigue, Randy used his positive attitude, humor and constructive criticism to provide encouragement. In return, I smiled, laughed, walked ahead and muttered, “dumb-ass!” I stopped sharing my blackberries.
On the eighth hole, the heat and exertion consumed whatever energy remained in my limbs.
I entered the tee box, positioned Beelzebub and performed my pre-flight routine (AGAIN). A silent alarm sounded in my head signaling something was wrong. Something did not feel right because my hand held a small, flat faced putter instead of the necessary large headed driver.
For a moment I thought about just going for it but recognized the futility of this idea. Seeing my bag on the back of the cart some distance ahead, I broke all golf protocol and yelled, “Come back!”
Randy saw my dilemma, handed me what he thought to be the perfect club and smiled. He knew better than to laugh when I held this club. Though I preferred the driver to the iron, it was easier to say, “Thank you” and swing. After which I decided maybe it wasn’t easier but knew I wasn’t tackling the blackberries again with no hope of retrieving a ball I could not see. So, to hell with etiquette. “Babe, come back.”
When he passed me the driver, I threw blackberries at him.
As we approached the ninth and final hole, I picked another handful of berries, washed them down with the last of the water, recognized the need for a bathroom (soon) and handed my wood (same thing as a driver) to Randy. “Just hit to the green.”
He did. I two putted the ball ending with the best hole of the day.
Randy drove the cart back to our trailer and I rode beside him.
As we talked about our adventure, I confessed to understanding why he gave me the older, worn balls; it would be expensive to lose so many new, Titlest balls.
He complimented me on finally remembering to put my club back in the bag after leaving it laying on the green the first three holes. And we both promised to never share the story about when one of my pasties fell from under my shirt onto the green — which would not have been bad if it hadn’t interrupted by swing.
After 38 years, I can say mom’s advice strengthened our marriage with each new experience; we are best friends. At the trailer, we each opened a beer and I asked, “What about golf do you find relaxing?”
When we opened our second bottles, and he sat down beside me, he replied, “The beer.”
Yes, I felt relaxed, loved, and ready to go anywhere with this man. (Except — no golf for a day or two.)