I’m new to golf, and it shows.
My game is so full of shanks, slices and chunks you’d think I was spending an afternoon at the butcher’s rather than on the fairways.
Despite these struggles, the game has captured my attention and my imagination, so much in fact that my wife is starting to suspect something. (Her: What’s this strange number on your cell? Me: Oh, that’s just the automated service calling to confirm tomorrow’s tee time).
Ironically, it was my wife that introduced me to the game. Christmas 2007 saw an oddly shaped box in the middle of the living room that later unveiled itself as a full set of brand new clubs.
“Do you like it?” she asked, her eyes measuring my reaction. I was an awkward nine year old again staring at my gift as is it were a back issue of Playboy.
“Do you realize what you are giving me permission to do?” I replied.
And so it began for me, my courtship of this beautiful game. In my evolution as a golfer, I am three errant tee shots away form a majestic one and a two-put away from saving triple-bogey.
Fortunately, there is hope.
If there is another industry out there that caters to mediocrity more I have yet to discover it. With so much research and technology devoted to fixing one’s game, getting fitted for a Green Jacket at Augusta has become an increasingly competitive (albeit remote) endeavor.
In my quest to improve my game there is no shortage of help. There are contraptions that keep your swing on plane, gadgets that tell you the distance to the pin and gizmos that keep the club face square. There are clubs that are sexier than a swimsuit model yet with more forgiveness than the pope. There are promises of more loft, less side-spin, larger sweet-spots, smaller scores, more greens, less roughs.
If it promised to shave strokes off my game, it found its way into my home.
Like the call from a roadside charlatan, I was seduced. I would be making out with a gilded trophy in no time flat.
It was my wife that restored order.
I was in my garage one lazy Sunday afternoon, tinkering with my latest slice remediation device when she walked in. She made a quick survey of my golf equipment, hands on hips, head shaking.
Storm clouds began to swirl. I braced myself.
“Instead of spending more money on another gadget, why don’t you spend that money on an extra bucket at the range?” With that she spun around and left, leaving me to soak in my moment of catharsis. It was a genuine pearl of wisdom; even more impressive was the fact that it came from a woman that requires a different hand bag with every outfit.
Suddenly my quest for a Green Jacket took an unexpected turn. Gone was the prevailing notion that technologies alone will salvage my game. Cutting-edge equipment and fancy widgets have a rightful place in the development of a golfer. Legitimate tools do exist out there that will help save strokes. But there is no substitute for getting out there, practicing fundamentals and playing eighteen holes in order to improve.
I love golf, yes, but I love the process of getting better at it even more. I enjoy using the power of reflection to understand where you are in your abilities and knowing what you can and can’t do on the course.
Advancements to my game now come from hard work, trial and error and heavy consumption of my pride.
There is no magic elixir, just the willingness to learn and the determination to see it through.
See you on the links!