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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

You mean it gets better?

Hitting the ball at the range and at the scrappy little course near my house was so much fun. I never even watched golf on TV so at this point I’m incredibly na├»ve about what is still to come. So, I’m “ready for Westlake.” Apparently, that means that I have enough knowledge of the rules and etiquette to get through a round without disrupting or offending anyone else’s game. I was happily surprised at how polite and civilized this game was turning out to be. Of course, as in every avenue of life, golf is not immune to the occasional moron gumming up the works. But I digress.
It’s August 20, 2004, and I am embarking on my first 18-hole round. If anyone remembers what that was like, you might recall it was a little intimidating. Am I going to brain someone or tear up the grass or just embarrass myself at every turn and have to pick up my ball and get out of everyone’s way? Thankfully, none of the above occurred. Maybe I picked up my ball once at about 11 on a green, but all in all, not too bad. The intimidation factor quickly vanished and I became immersed in the game and the challenges it had in store for me. It was so much fun to get out there and attempt some longer shots. Clear some water. Navigate some trees. A new challenge awaited my every hit. Before I even got through two holes I was excited and wondering when I’d get to play again. I saved all my scorecards so I’ll look up what I shot that day, but I’m on the road right now (my day job keeps me out of town most weeks). For now, suffice to say that my score was appropriately bad enough for my first time out, but I’m sure not my worst, and good enough for a beginner to really encourage me and grow the addiction. Update: I looked it up and it was 111. I suddenly had a new attitude. Screw that little nine-hole jobbie. That won’t do at all. 18 or nothing for me from now on. Of course, now that I’m oh so experienced at 10 months in I see the value of practicing those 100 yard shots at Sinaloa (the aforementioned nine-hole jobbie), but I’ll get to that later.

Now, as I mentioned, Westlake is an “executive course” and a pretty short par 67 track. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time because I had nothing to compare it to, but I already realized my irons weren’t going to cut it all the time. I had to go out and complete my set with some fairway woods. So I headed back to Golfsmith and did just that. The shoes and the clothes started coming into play a little later.

Does anyone else notice how far away golf courses seem to be? No matter how far I have to travel, it takes FOREVER to get there when it’s for golf. Westlake is about 15-20 minutes from my house and all the way there I had the antsiest pants ever. I’m still really eager to get to whatever golf course I play, but nothing like those first few times. Oh my god, and when we drove about an hour to Santa Barbara the first time I didn’t think I would make it! I never wished for teleportation technology more, and I’m a pretty big geek about stuff like that. This game is great! Obviously at this point I’m still new enough at that I have yet to be completely frustrated. That didn’t last long. Soon enough I was comparing myself to people who have been playing for years and coming up short most of the time. I’m competitive and have high expectations of myself, so it probably took me about a month before I first muttered to myself about hating this damned game. I love this game, I hate this game, I love this game. Sound familiar? Even now, I still hear “welcome to golf” from Greg when I say something like “I thought of something random in the middle of my backswing.” Turns out I’m not having unique struggles. That’s so cool! No wonder there’s so much camaraderie with this game and that people can talk about it endlessly and there are so many magazines, blogs, television shows and other sources of information dedicated to it.

On that note, I think I’ll start a list of reasons I love golf. Not in order of importance, of course, but there’s the first: Reason #1: The “brotherhood.” Sorry sisters, figure of speech.

Next post.

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