It took me seventeen years to get to 3,000 hits in baseball. It took me one afternoon on the golf course. -Hank Aaron
Did I ever mention that I grew up on a golf course? Well, not actually on a golf course … our lawn wasn’t a fairway and there were no greens visible from our windows which were never busted out from stray golf balls and that’s because we lived about six miles away from the country club. So when I say I grew up on a golf course, I mean my brother and I were deposited at the club almost every single day in every single summer for as far back as I can remember in our childhood and that’s because we had parents who lived, ate, slept and breathed golf from June through August. So it was not uncommon for my brother and me to be dropped off as early as eight in the morning with instructions to go find something fun to do while my mother golfed, then we’d hang out some more while my mother snuck back home to get things done without having the nuisance of kids around, then we’d hang some more while my father golfed in his league after work, and then we’d find even more stuff to do while our mom came back to the club so that she and my dad could eat dinner there, after which they’d suddenly remember that they owned two small human beings who hadn’t been seen in awhile and who presumably lived with them and this would cause them to pause and think that maybe they should try to round them up lest they get penalized an additional day of greens fees because those two small humans had decided to follow instructions explicitly and found something to occupy themselves, specifically making camp for the night on the ninth green.
When you are dropped off somewhere on your own for 75% of every day with only pocket change with which to find amusement or food to eat, you learn to adapt and my brother adapted by building a nice little reputation as a bookie, taking bets on who would birdie number 14 and who would let fly a resounding S*H*I*T on 13 when their ball slammed into the water. For a quarter, he’d retrieve the ball as well as any others he could find which he eventually sold to passing golfers who were enraged to have lost yet another perfectly good ball into that God forsaken lake called a water hazard. In his spare time, my brother also learned to golf and since he had been born a natural athlete, this came easy to him. I, on the other hand, had been born with all the coordination of a drunken hippo so golf did not come easy to me and neither did participating in any illegal activity so I did not follow my brother down the bookie path and instead, resigned myself to figuring out how I was going to spend twelve hours of each day surrounded by perfectly manicured grass that I was not allowed to walk on, captivating sand traps that I was not allowed to dig in and cool, refreshing water hazards that I was not allowed to jump in.
Life lesson #1 learned on a golf course: brown bagged meals only last so long without an ice pack so figure out at least 92 different ways to pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the $1.82 you scrounged up in your pocket, otherwise it’s going to be one hell of a long ass summer.
I was a tenacious little thing so even though it just about killed me, I did learn how to play golf and there was nothing pretty about the entire ordeal unless you count my unique, beautiful, special and utterly wonderful daisy putter. It had a bright white daisy on its shiny orange head and a long orange shaft with a comfortable firm grip that allowed no friction and wow, could this sound any more like something delivered in a brown paper wrapper from a nondescript post office box that doesn’t fool your mailman for one second as he disinfects his hands and looks at you like you have three heads? Not that I would know.
The putter was a gift from my parents … or a bribe, depending on how you looked at it. Anyway, I loved that putter and it has found its way into every single golf bag I have owned since I was a youngster even though Nate once vowed to leave me if I attempted to use it in public. Here it is in all its glory:
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? It bears all the scars of beating it against trees, slamming it into my bag or against the nearest rock and ripping the grip off with my teeth in frustration.
Did I mention I was a bit wound up when I golfed?
Life lesson #2 learned on the golf course: golf is not meant for the high strung.
I don’t play golf anymore unless I am forced to by my husband or other members of my family who shall remain nameless except I’ll call them Mom and Dad. They both think it’s a shame to waste a talent. Unless talent means chasing and hitting a little white ball back and forth across twenty square miles, through enough sand and water to make me think I should have packed a suit, using every single club in my bag and a few I found buried deep in the forest next to the skeletons of those less fortunate golfers who never did find their ball, I’m not at all sure I am talented. Yes, I can drive a pretty mean ball off the tee, sometimes out-driving Nate, but when you need 43 additional strokes to actually get the ball in the hole, it kind of takes the wind out of the sail known as OH MY GOD, LOOK AT THAT SHOT. And let’s not even mention the fact that I can no longer even see the ball when I’m in my stance for the two Double D impediments on my chest and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just take your A-C cups and move it along, thank you very much.
Life lesson #3 learned on the golf course: when you cause bruising on your inner arms simply by taking a practice shot, it’s time to walk away.
This was my latest putter:
It’s very grown-up, not at all like my whimsical daisy. It’s very Nate-like with not one, not two, but three obsessive-compulsive lines to ensure you line your ball up exactly with the hole RIGHT THERE, NO A LITTLE THE THE LEFT, NO, NO, NO, NOW A BIT TO THE RIGHT, STOP, DON’T MOVE, RIGHT THERE. I think the lines on this putter were applied by a one-eyed, doped up schizophrenic because my ball always seemed to veer about thirty feet to the left, a phenomena that would just stun Nate into absolute silence.
Life lessons #4 and #5 learned on the golf course: there is no such thing as a straight line in golf and every dark cloud has a silver lining.
This was my driver:
The idea is that the big fat head causes the ball to fly farther and faster. That would be the big fat head on the driver, not the drivee, just in case there was any confusion. This is one of those things that sounds great in theory but fails considerably in practice, kind of like being told that if you got it, you should flaunt it by wearing form fitting tops and then discovering that the form fitting top you just paid $89 for makes you look like a polish sausage dying a slow, painful death by suffocation.
When you use your driver, you actually need strength behind your swing in order for the ball to move off the tee and although I occasionally would get lucky and hit the ball dead on with enough force to drive it a good distance past Nate’s drive, more often than not my swing had all the force of a wet noodle behind it and the ball would skid across the ground and come to rest a couple of yards from where it started, and there it would sit, mocking me.
Life lesson #6 learned on the golf course: don’t play the game if you can’t laugh at yourself, otherwise why bother paying $85 for the privilege of sweating and cursing for five hours when you can do the same thing for free in the privacy of your own home with the help of 132 loads of smelly laundry?
Life lesson #7 learned on the golf course: Life Lesson #6 only pertains to you laughing at yourself. If anyone else laughs at you, you’ll feel a whole lot better after you beat them senseless.
Do you see the difference in the above photos? The top is a five iron, used mainly off the tee or in the fairway and the goal is a lot of distance with a bit of loft. The bottom is a pitching wedge used near the green or in a sand trap and the goal is a lot of loft with a bit of distance. Unless you’re me in which case an iron is an iron is a goddamn iron, they’re all made to piss the living daylights out of me, none of them ever do what they’re supposed to do and unless their original purpose is to suck the will to live right out of my body, they fail miserably at their intended jobs and they should all be melted down to make belt buckles that no one will ever wear because they’re ugly.
Life lesson #8 learned on the golf course: irons suck.
I am not loyal to one manufacturer of golf balls … I’ll basically hit anything that anybody puts in front of me and hey, if it’s got a cause branded on it, such as breast cancer, I’ll gladly play it because if I’m going to ruin a perfectly good day by playing golf and accumulating a plethora of boob sweat, somebody somewhere ought to get something out of my misery, right?
From time to time, I am somewhat delusional and nowhere is this more true than on a golf course because by the fifth hole, I swear to God the ball is out to get me and on more than one occasion I have been known to yell at Nate from the sand trap of the next hole over that I HATE THIS SADISTIC GAME; I NEED A NEW BALL BECAUSE THIS ONE IS A PIECE OF SHIT. Whereupon Nate will roll his eyes and shake his head at the foursome we’re holding up as if to say, “What, I thought you brought her?”
Life Lesson #9 learned on a golf course: do not go golfing with your spouse if you ever expect to have marital relations ever again in this millennium.
So while Nate is pretending he doesn’t know me, I am trying to ignore the very real fact that my ball is psyching me out and this is easier said than done when I am confronted by this:
And this one caused me to scream at Nate to come over here RIGHT THIS GODDAMN MINUTE AND SEE WHAT THIS FREAKING BALL IS SAYING TO ME but he didn’t because he was too busy ignoring me:
But this was the deal breaker, the final blow, the proverbial straw that broke my back:
Life lesson #10 learned on the golf course: when your golf ball starts making more sense than the masochistic crazy lunatics you’re playing with, it’s time to call it a day.