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I’ve been playing golf for fifteen years and I stink. I’m so bad people make excuses for me. When I fail to chip the ball on the green on my third, fifth or nineteenth try, they say, “You’re just a beginner, you need to give it more time.”
Is fifteen years not “more time?” Not enough, apparently.
Yet, I still play.
Every spring I dust off the clubs and head back to the links. It’s exercise. Think of the muscles I strengthen while strolling through the verdant landscape, whacking at balls and cursing.
It’s not my only sporty activity. I also ski. I prefer athletics that requires minimal amount effort. When I ski, I can let gravity do the work. I point my skis downhill and head to a chair attached to a cable that carries me back to the top. Sidestepping up the hill would be a better workout. But no, I catch a ride for the difficult bit.
Of course, I’m fibbing when I say I ski down the hill. I point my skis across the hill because if I go straight down, I will go too fast. And I don’t want to die.
That’s the problem with skiing, you can die. You can ski off a cliff, hit a tree, or get eaten by a Yeti. Golf is safer. I don’t believe anyone has died from ambling into a tree. Sure, there’s the 1 in 700,000 chance of being struck by a fatal bolt of lightning on a golf course. But there’s a 1 in 50,000 chance of being eaten by a Yeti.
When I married Mr. Hockey, he didn’t encourage me to learn golf. He had no interest in playing with me. For him, golf was an activity with his buddies that also satisfied his need to slap something with a stick in the summer, when there’s no ice available. As our hockey pucks got older, I had more time in my day. Some of my friends were playing, so I decided to take up the game.
Golf is insidious, frustrating and I’m not exaggerating when I say that, in the beginning, I rarely made contact with the ball. It turns out, I lack hand-eye coordination. But I kept at it. Why? Because golf courses have very good food. I came for the golf but stayed for the snacks.
I started with ladies’ group lessons at a small golf course in northern London, where we were living at the time. I don’t remember the name of the nine-hole pitch and putt or the women I learned with, but I recall the milkshakes I had after our rounds. Those milkshakes were a pleasant surprise because in general, ice cream is not in the Brits’ wheelhouse. They prefer the desserts like Treacle Tarts, Figgy Pudding, Jam Roly-Poly, and Spotted Dick.
I have previously used this space to wax poetic about our own Poxabogue Golf Course’s milkshake and I stand by my words. Their chocolate milkshake is worth the freezer-head you get when drinking it. I have never waxed poetic about Spotted Dick.
A friends’ club in Florida has homemade cookies warming for its members at all times. Mr. Hockey’s club serves incredible truffle fries. And their bananas hit the sweet spot whenever I eat one. Not too green but not too mushy, either. How do they get perfect bananas every time? It’s bananas!
Eventually, Mr. Hockey realized that if he played with me, he could play even more golf. After all, I can’t complain about how much he golfs if I’m with him. Ha! Husbands! So funny! (Full disclosure, this is Mr. Hockey’s joke. I had to steal it because I’m writing my column last minute and I need every joke I can summon to make my word count).
This is how it sounds when I golf, “whack, (expletive), walk, walk, walk.” Repeat that about nine times until I get onto the green, then it’s “putt, (expletive)” about four times. My game might be terrible, but I’m proud I’ve made the even most hardened caddies blush.
I haven’t gotten my score down from a 130 to a 120 without help. There have been clinics, group lessons, and private lessons. I once spent a weekend taking lessons at a resort in Florida that was so stuck in the ‘80s I felt like I was at Seinfeld’s Boca Del Vista Phase 3.
My current golf guru is Chelsea-the-Pro. I am one of Chelsea’s more special students, in that I don’t comprehend simple instructions and she must come up with magical ways to teach me the game. Chelsea has managed to add a little finesse to my short game and get my drive to go into the air. Before Chelsea, I was playing very long games of croquet.
To solve this issue, Chelsea told me to look six inches in front of the ball. Amazingly, I actually hit it into the air and landed it eighty yards further up the fairway. I did that without looking at the ball! Chelsea somehow tricks my brain. It’s a mind-expletive.
Even though I stink, when I hit the ball into the air like that, I fall in love with golf. It’s why the game is insidious. One good shot in 120 brings me back every time.
That’s why I’ll play for fifteen more years. Well, that and the bananas.
Published in The East Hampton Press, July 2, 2020. https://www.27east.com/east-hampton-press/came-for-the-golf-stayed-for-the-snacks-1708906/