A few days ago a couple of my friends asked me to join them at the golf driving range just a few miles from my town near the border of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to hit a few golf balls. Against my better judgement, I agreed to give it a try. Mistake # 1.
I met them at the range and was pleasantly surprised to see a row of artificial turf rectangles, each one just big enough for one person to stand on while attempting to hit his or her bunch of tiny white demon balls.
I like artificial turf when I’m trying to hit a golf ball; the ball doesn’t sink into turf the way it does in real grass, disappearing just out of reach of my club as I take a swing, planning to whack the ball into the future! Instead of watching the ball soar through the air in a lovely straight line towards the green, I look down to see the ball, still sitting where it was before I took a shot at it, grinning up at me. Artificial turf is definitely the way to go for me.
I took several golf lessons about twelve years ago when I lived in St. John’s Newfoundland, and I quite enjoyed them…until the last day. Up until the last day, all our lessons took place indoors, on artificial turf, with huge nets in front of us to catch any balls that actually managed to become air-borne. After the first couple of lessons, once my out-of-shape body adjusted to using muscles it didn’t know it had, I settled in and absorbed as much information as I could from our handsome young instructor.
By the time I arrived for my last lesson, I was feeling pretty good about the way my skills with a golf club had improved. Mistake #2.
The instructor, who up until this day had been delightful, considerate of the newbies in his group and encouraging in the way he praised our attempts to golf, changed like a chameleon in front of my eyes.
“Today is such a nice spring day that we’re going to complete our last lesson outside,” he snarled, his once-soothing voice now menacing and mean. “You’ll have an opportunity to experience what golfing is like in the real world.”
At this point he swiveled his head (only his head, mind you, not his body), 360 degrees to stare directly at me while he grinned his Cheshire-like grin.
So outside we trooped, each of us carrying a bag of borrowed clubs. I knew what I had to do, I knew what I was expected to do, I just couldn’t do it. No matter how many swings I took at the devil ball in front of me, it remained exactly where it was before I started. On the grass, sitting as nicely-as-you-please, on a tiny wooden tee.
Thus ended my golfing adventure in Newfoundland. Not once did I go to one of the local golf courses to try my luck; I already knew how it would end, with my screaming at the ball and throwing my club and cart into the nearest water hazard, and I didn’t want the locals to think that this ‘come-from-away’ was any more insane than they already thought.
But time has a way of making people forget their pain and misery–otherwise how could we explain a woman giving birth to her SECOND child…and over time I began to view my golf lessons through a rose-colored mist of fond memories and a few chuckles. Mistake #3.
Okay, so I’m at the driving range with my two friends, and one of them graciously offers me a golf glove to wear on my left hand (to avoid blisters, I think), plus she offered to show me how she grips a club.
Now, this friend is an excellent golfer, so I paid close attention. Mistake #4.
She showed me the interlocking-pinky-finger grip, and I followed her instructions. I picked up a club and gripped it ever-so-gently, as if I was holding a baby bird, just as she had explained. Then I prepared to swing.
As I moved into the back-swing movement, I realized my gentle grip on the club had become more like a death-grip; no baby bird would survive in these hands.
But I couldn’t stop myself. No matter how many deep breaths I took first, no matter how many times I wiggled my hips and bent my knees and stuck my bum out just a little bit, by the time I attempted the back-swing I was holding the club so tight it’s a wonder I didn’t bend it!
After a few swings, I complained about my left hand hurting, right by my middle finger and ring finger knuckles. In fact, my hand hurt so much that I had to change my grip to something other than the pinky-finger-interlocking hold, in order to get some relief. That was better.
Now I only had to worry about my right arm. After a few more swings (still with a death-grip on the club), my right arm began to pain, all the way from my bicep (or where my bicep would be if I had biceps), down to my wrist, along the inside.
One or two golf balls later, I had to stop. The pain in my arm was unbearable, and I could hear a glass of wine calling my name.
I gave the remaining balls from my ‘small bucket’ to my friends and sat on the patio to watch them finish their practice, encouraging them with, “Wow, you really hit that one great,” and “That was close, wasn’t it?” when they missed a shot.
Once I came home, I applied ice to my arm and heat to my right shoulder blade.
It was only the next day that I noticed a huge bruise on my left hand, right by my middle finger and ring finger knuckles. And this wasn’t just a tiny, slight bruise, either–it was a honking large round one, dark and purple. Plus my right arm hurt like crazy–I couldn’t straighten it out completely, AND the left side of my trunk (not like an elephant trunk, but the side of my body between my armpit and hip), was so sore that I had trouble walking around or bending down.
I told my friends that I would definitely go back with them to the driving range in the near future, and I meant it. I just neglected to tell them that I don’t plan on hitting any balls when I’m there. Rather, I will sit on the patio, in the shade, sip a glass of white wine, and offer colorful commentary on their golf prowess. I will be their cheering section, their ‘groupie’, their friend who buys them a drink after they hit the requisite number of balls (I will decide how many that should be, depending on my mood at the time).
This golfing thing might be lots of fun, after all!
Do you golf? Do you have any tips for me that might help? I welcome them–PLEASE!