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Confession: “I played golf.”
Hole in None
Like many reluctant grown-ups, I’ve always had an aversion to the activity of golf. As a kid, I didn’t even get what was so great about miniature golf, at least not until I figured out how to climb into the windmill and set off the hole-in-one bell. But normal golf? To my way of thinking, it was best left to nursing-home patients who didn’t have enough stamina for bingo.
Imagine my surprise when some of my own best friends began giving a shit about the U.S. Open. Or worse, when some of my own best friends began turning into golfers themselves. Lately, they’ve all been peer-pressuring me into participating. “Dan, you gotta try it,” they say. “Once you try it, you’ll want to do it again and again.”
This was the way they used to talk about Xtasy. And let me tell you, they were right about that.
My day of golf began on the driving range, where I was greeted by my instructor, Ben, a toothsome, Casual Friday kind of guy in Dockers, a striped polo shirt, and those two-tone saddle shoes favored by high school cheerleaders. Looking around, I noticed that almost everyone on the range was also wearing the cheerleader shoes, not to mention a spectacular array of devil-may-care trousers. I myself sported jeans and high-tops, but Ben assured me that I wasn’t violating any dress codes since I was also wearing a “soft-collar shirt.” I assured Ben that, to the best of my knowledge, I do not own any hard-collar shirts.
I liked Ben. He had a pleasant laugh and the patient demeanor of a special ed. teacher. Which was a very good thing,since I was going to be his pupil.
“Okay! First we’ll work on our stance,” Ben began, handing me a pitching wedge, which I assumed meant you’re supposed to swing it like a baseball bat, which was one of many faulty assumptions I made throughout the day.
“Now, flex your knees and stick your seat way out.” I appreciated Ben’s use of the word “seat,” but I frankly found this stance to be a bit swish. Without really thinking about it, I assumed a sort of GI Joe stance instead–a chest out, shoulders back kind of look.
“We’ve really got to work on loosening you up,” said Ben.
After giving up on the stance, we moved on to the grip. Ben explained that the first grip we’d learn was the Varden Overlap Grip, which I found scary because it led me to believe there would be other grips. And there were. There was the interlock grip, the ten-finger grip, a grip where you’re supposed to put your thumb over your index finger, another where you put your index finger over your thumb, and numerous other grips best suited to the double-jointed. I finally settled on the Zevin Death Grip, so-named because it prevented Ben from reconfiguring my fingers into any further grips.
At some point I asked Ben if we might whack a few balls before nightfall. He cheerfully obliged, demonstrating proper alignment by sticking out his seat, taking a swing, and sending his ball soaring into the solar system. Now that was pretty awesome, I thought.
Then it was my turn. He handed me a seven-iron, but he may as well have handed me a weed-whacker, since the only thing I sent soaring was a large clump of driving range. This was identified as a “divot shot” by Ben, and it turned out to be my major strength. Far be it from me to boast, but my hand-eye coordination was so consistent that I doubt the driving range has been the same since I left.
Unless they’ve resodded.
“Okay! I want you to really concentrate on loosening up.” Ben reiterated this advice as I drove our golf cart around the nine-hole course where we spent the rest of the day. By this point, I had finally found something I liked about golf: the cart.
I liked the cart on a couple of levels: (a) it brought back fond memories of doing doughnuts on the manicured yard of Mrs. Schline, who made the mistake of calling the cops that time I had a party in tenth grade, and (b) it was an energy-efficient way to search for the three or four balls I managed not to divot. These balls generally wound up in “the bunkers,” defined as those areas of the course you are supposed to aim away from, such as sand traps, marshes, and craniums of fellow golfers.
The bunker I became most intimate with was the sand trap, though I have been wondering what happened to the gentleman with the salmon trousers who disappeared somewhere around the third hole.
We were well ahead of schedule upon arriving at the ninth hole, mainly because I drove us straight past holes four through eight. The way I saw it, if I wanted to spend the day in the sand, I would have gone to the beach. The final hole was a par five, meaning it was supposed to take five shots to get it in. I was around my eleventh when I saw something I liked even more than the golf cart. It was called the Beverage Cart. You heard me correctly.
The beverage-cart lady asked what I wanted, and I ordered a stiff Bloody Mary, the golfiest drink I could think of. As for Ben, he was a blue Gatorade man. And as I kicked off my shoes, poured out the sand, and sucked down my Bloody, I finally understood what he’d been talking about all day.
To enjoy a game of golf, you just have to loosen up
Posted October 6, 2002
This is a great book to give anyone turning 30-40 something! I laughed out loud while reading this book and read only a few chapters a night so it would last longer. Great fun!
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Posted July 10, 2009
I'm nearly done and have really enjoyed reading this book. Some cute stories, and I can picture some of the 'awakenings' this author must have had in order to identify and write down the perceptions of growing up. Loved the chapter about how his friends plan every moment of their lives, and got a kick out of learning that folks at the dog parks are very sensitive about the terminology used for their dogs' BMs.
Light, enjoyable reading. Good introduction, too, for someone who may want to study other people's writing styles.
Posted June 17, 2003
I'm always trying to get my husband to read more books. It normally takes him weeks to finish anything more than a few pages. However, he read this book over a long weekend while we were on vacation and has even recommended it to some of his friends.
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