Why I Love (and Hate) Golf

It is a beautiful spring morning, and the sky is a special shade of blue that you do not get at other times of the year. The air is cool, but so much more pleasant than in the winter months that is feels warm. The spring rains have encouraged the grass to grow thick and green. The leaves on the trees and a few flowers are starting to come out, and the familiar singing of the birds helps round out what appears to be a nearly perfect day. The nicely manicured landscape of the golf course provides the ideal setting for such a day.

The first hole is a short par three, which experience has shown is best approached with an eight iron. After some brief stretching and a few practice swings I am ready to go. I position myself with the ball close to the middle of my stance. I set the proper grip with the ‘V’s pointing toward my right shoulder. I visualize the proper shoulder turn and swing plane. Balance and tempo, Eric, balance and tempo.

The back swing is flawless – controlled and sound. The slot position feels right. I rotate my body and pull down hard. The ball pops in the air just like I wanted, and I watch with the awe of a five-year-old at a fireworks show. The ball lands softly just a few feet from the hole. A nearly perfect shot. Man! What a beautiful day!

The putt is not as easy as it looks. I am on a side hill, and the ball will break from left to right. How much it will curve depends not just on the slope of the green, but on the speed of the putt. Everything must be just right. I make my read, and smoothly tap the ball on the line I had imagined. The ball rolls just like I thought, and the putt is rewarded with one of the sweetest sound you will ever know – the ‘kerplunk’ and echoing rattle of a golf ball going in to the hole. Such a beautiful day. A birdie on my first hole of the season.

The second hole is much like the first except the green is elevated high above the tee box, and there is an intimidating pond between the tee and the green. A family of geese have taken up residence in the pond. Their fuzzy babies are so ugly that they are cute. I select the same club I had used on the previous hole, and prepare to do it all again.

For some reason the practice swing does not feel right. I take a few more. What is going on?! Well, I can’t practice here all day. I better go ahead and hit. The back swing isn’t quite right, the slot position is wrong somehow. I start my swing knowing something is wrong. Compensate, Eric, adjust. I hit the ground before the ball with a painful chunk. A large piece of sod floats through the air and lands a few feet ahead of me. It looks a little like a beaver pelt, as it lies upside down on the ground. The ball sails weakly into the middle of the pond. The ‘plunk’ sound of the ball hitting the water disturbs the geese. But it disturbs me much more. The humiliation of a bad shot, the chunk of sod, the splash in the pond, and the lost ball are almost to much to bear. Add to that the stroke penalty and having to hit from the tee again. What a lousy day.

I grab a new ball, and set it on another tee. No practice swing now, let’s get this over with. I hit the ball somewhere towards the green. I miss is to the right. I miss the sand trap, which is good, but now have to pop the ball over the trap, and get it to stop without much green to work with. In addition the green is sloping away which makes it even more difficult to get the ball to stop. I use my wedge and lay the face wide open. I adjust my stance way left to compensate for the open face. I have the ball back in my stance with my weight on my back foot. Doing anything to encourage a high trajectory on a short shot. I execute it perfectly, and the ball lands softly just behind the sand trap. The ball rolls slowly toward the hole. It misses going in by inches, and keeps slowly rolling. And rolling. And rolling. Stop. STOP. STOP!!! It doesn’t stop until it has traveled clear across the green and into the thick fringe. I make the long putt up the hill and leave it two feet short. A second putt rims the cup but does not go in. I tap in for what is a quadruple bogey 7. How do you get a 7 on a 120 yard par three?! Just like I did I suppose. What a lousy day.

The next hole is a par four that is mostly down hill. It is a beautiful hole with trees along the left side. I pull the big driver out for the first time. I have some ground to make up now so I prepare to grip it and rip it. I tee the ball up high, and set up in a wide stance. I am going to swing hard and need a firm base. I take a few powerful practice swings to get used to the longer club. I take the club back with exaggerated slowness, not stopping until my hands are behind my head. My entire body is now a tense coiled spring, just waiting for the controlled violence of the release. POW! The ball explodes of the tee, making a sound like a gun going off with a slightly hollow ping quality that new technology drivers make. The ball keeps going, on and on. Only after four or five seconds does it start its slow descent. It stops just 60 yards from the green making a mockery of this par four. It is one of the best drives I have ever had.

Man! What a beautiful day!


4 Responses to “Why I Love (and Hate) Golf”

  1. 1 Ian M. Cook May 10, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    “A good walk spoiled.” – Mark Twain on golf.

    I love that quote.

  2. 2 Geoff J May 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    It stops just 60 yards from the green making a mockery of this par four.

    This assumes that you can get within 3 feet of the hole on your 60 yard second shot doesn’t it? That mid-range game can be a killer.

  3. 3 Eric Nielson May 10, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    That is a great quote Ian.

    And Geoff, mockery was probably a stronger word than I should have used. Mostly, someone who was designing a par four would hope for more than a 60 yard chip shot for an approach.

  4. 4 selfloathinggolfpro October 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I can’t stand golf. I used to be good now useless. Members are a pain in the neck. Why can’t golfers be normal. Selfloathinggolfpro

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