I try to understand the misunderstood. “Golf is so boring.” The only people who say such statements are those who don’t know the difference between a fairway and a green or a putter and a driver. How can you judge what you don’t understand? I used to think golf was boring...but then I started going to the driving range and putting greens with my dad. I would see him sweep back his driver and absolutely bomb that little yellow Pinnacle practice ball out into the range for what seemed like miles. I was 7 years old, and I thought, “Whoa. I want to try that.” For 10 years, on and off, my dad and I would go to the range and green. Though he tried to teach me how to make a proper golf swing, he couldn’t because he had taught himself to play when he turned 24. He didn’t know to translate what he knew into words his daughter would understand. So I practiced--badly--for 10 years.
A month ago, I got a golf teacher. She is the definition of awesome. All the best qualities that can be found in a golf instructor can be found in her. She doesn’t yell or force—she encourages with a kind voice. She lets you do a bad job so that she can show you what needs to be improved on and also to show that golf is damn near impossible; that no one has ever played a perfect game. 18 holes-in-one in a row? The possibility of that doesn’t even matter because the improbability is so great. In a mere month, I was doing a hundred times better than I had done in 10 years. Every 5th lesson, she takes her student out to play 9 holes so she can see how much improvement has been made and what else needs to be improved on. She said that she has had students old and young, male and female, short and tall, but I am the first student who she has ever played an entire 9 with. Everyone else has to be cut off at 3 or 4 because they take so long. (I shot a 57 on a par 35. I thought it was awful, but she said for my first [real] 9, that it was phenomenal.) She tells me, “You are just all ears, aren’t you?” I can only tell her that I’ve wanted to learn golf for far too long, and I know that you can’t learn unless you watch and listen to what the teacher has to say and show. So I watched, and I listened, and I soaked in everything like a sponge. But there is so much to soak in....
...which leads me to reason #2 I love golf. It’s a challenge. Anyone who knows me well knows that I won’t ever choose easy over difficult if I gain more out of the difficult. Golf is the most difficult sport I’ve ever tried. There are so many things you can do wrong! Keep your knees bent, back and arms straight, chin up, and eyes on the ball. Bring down your left shoulder into the backswing. Keep the club in control. Lock your wrists. Keep your feet on the ground. Keep the right tempo (one, two...ONE!). Be patient. Plus, there are different techniques for different clubs! Irons are compact swings and are in the middle of your stance. Woods are in between the front and middle of your stance and you sweep the club back as far as you can and sweep it back down. Drivers are sweeping swings at the front of your stance. Pitching and chipping is in the back of your stance and your weight starts on your left. Putting is....well, putting is synonymous with “hell” and “mental anguish.” Golf is also, “Every man for himself.” You don’t have a team and you’re constantly playing offense. So is everyone you’re playing against. Consider this. If football teams didn’t have defense, the game would be a matter of which team can score more points in the allotted time. With golf, you can’t play defense to hold back your opponent’s score. You just have to out-score them and that’s all you can do. See? Golf is the furthest thing from boring.
Golf is therapeutic. When I get to the golf course, my outside life stays in the parking lot. I step up to that first tee, and all I have with me is my game. My mind is cleared and I just focus on getting that little white ball into the hole hundreds of yards away. For 18 holes, nothing but that game matters, and your mind is absolutely serene. That sounds stupid up front because you think, “But this game can piss you off so badly sometimes!” Well, yes, it can, but you’re still only thinking about the game—nothing that doesn’t belong on the course. Your mind is serene.
Golf is a game. And it's a damn good one. Have fun with it! I remember one time, when I was probably 9 or 10, my dad and I were on the putting green—same one I still go to several times a week. We were winding things down and he said, “Let’s have a putting contest.” The wager on his part was ice cream. He had to buy me a DQ Blizzard if I won. If he won, I had to do the dishes that night. “You’re on,” I told him. I won’t go into details (mainly because I don’t remember them), but I won. I got my Oreo Blizzard and it tasted sweeter than any other Blizzard I’ve had to this day. It’s also a very social game. You have to play with the right people or it sucks. If you can’t talk to the people you’re playing with, that will be the longest 18 holes of your life. Guaranteed.
Golf can make you happier and angrier than you ever knew you could be. A hole-in-one: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! OH YEAH! DID YOU SEE THAT?! *@%#^ YEAH! A triple bogey/OB shot: [insert explicatives]. I don’t believe I need to explain further on this. It’s quite rewarding, too. A bad shot sucks bad, but a good shot feels so great. That *chink* of the driver sending that Pro-V1 out onto the fairway and the *plunk* of the ball falling into the hole after an 18-foot putt are the best sounds I’ve ever heard. I feel on top of the world when I hear those sounds.
I fell in love with it hard and fast. As anyone who really knows me knows I like a challenge, they also know that when I like something, I get so deep into it that there is no pulling me out. It happened with singing, guitar, baking and decorating, writing, and my absolutely ridiculous, yet life-changingly awesome Notre Dame obsession. It has now happened with golf. I wake up every day and just want to go to the golf course. The breeze, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sunshine, and the beautiful reflection of the sky in the water makes me feel untouchable. No matter how badly I play or practice, I always leave the golf course happier than when I arrived.
To those of you who golf, I’m sure you understand everything I’ve said. To those of you who haven’t ever touched a club in your life, I hope I sold it to you. It’s amazing. There really are no words for it. I can say this though: Golf is a drug. It isn’t like one. It is one. When you’re playing, you’re on a high. When you’re not, you feel empty and incomplete and you only want to be playing. It can send you through every emotion in 4 hours or less and it is the most addicting sport out there.
Aces. (Some people say "deuces" but we're golfers. Aces are better than deuces.)