Recently, I had my very first golf lesson. I know this sounds absurd coming from someone who contributes to a golf blog, but before you run screaming, let me explain.
It’s not that I haven’t ever seen golf before. My husband, Stuart, loves sports and spends most of his free time watching ESPN (or simply walking into a room, turning the television to ESPN and then leaving, but I digress). He loves golf, and I frequently join him when he plays, reading a novel or enjoying the scenery, his cursing and mumbling providing an amusing soundtrack that, depending on how he’s playing, may or may not contain explicit lyrics. And I’ve been living with the man for over a decade so I can assure you I’ve spent many a Sunday afternoon stretched out on the couch watching tournaments. I know the game. I just hadn’t played it. And after my first lesson, here’s what I think:
Golf is hard.
I hit my first drive on the range with no problem. It wasn’t completely straight and it certainly didn’t go far, but I made contact with the ball. As my lesson went on, it seemed that the more pointers I received, the worse I got. Drawing. Fading. Missing the ball altogether. The problem is that there are so many things to remember! Keep your head down. Keep your left arm straight. Don’t bring the club too far back. Tee the ball above the top of the club face. The list goes on and on. Once I knew there were so many things to focus on I freaked out. Am I ever going to remember all this? Everyone tells me I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to do all these things perfectly. I believe them.
I did have a couple of decent shots during my lesson, and I was lucky enough to have 3 (THREE!) instructors who have spent years honing their crafts. They made me really want to learn how to play, and their appreciation and enjoyment of the game was contagious.
The next Sunday, Stuart and I played nine holes. Luckily, there was only one group behind us (who we let play through), so I could take my time with the game. I enjoyed the first few holes immensely (not including the three tries it took me to tee off on 2) and did fairly well. On hole 4, assuming that surely I could get the ball in the air and over the water on the approach, I went swimming, and frustration only mounted as I over or under-shot putts and completely screwed up the tee shot on 7.
The point here is that for all this time watching golf, I had no idea how utterly frustrating the game was. Sure I’ve seen the disappointment on Phil Mickelson’s face a million times when he makes a run but can’t pull it out on Sunday. I’ve seen Tiger slam down clubs in disgust. And now I get it. I wanted to throw my club in the water with my ball on 4 and I actually picked the golf ball up after it went about 3 feet off the tee box on 7, threw it down the fairway, and refused to finish the hole.
I could write about golf before, but now I can sympathize with players, too. I have the love/hate relationship with the game–the understanding that golf is a wonderful and completely intolerable game— and the burning desire to show it who’s boss.