Back in the swing?


So here’s a funny situation for you: retired man, physically capable, time and money on his hands, lives in South Florida…

…and doesn’t play golf.

Yes, I know, it’s as if the very laws of science and nature are breaking down before your eyes!

Rather than have Earth’s axis snap and this pretty blue-green globe spin off into space (no doubt causing someone, somewhere, to miss a putt), I went out yesterday onto a driving range to test various parts of my body for the endurance to take up golf once again.

It’s probably been about four years since I last lifted a golf club. Frankly, I was never very good at golf, most of my time spent in the 90’s, with little improvement along the way.

I’ve constantly said that golf is the most technically challenging sport I’ve ever tried. Attempting to hit a small white ball with a flat piece of metal and get it to travel hundreds of yards in the direction you intend has long been outside my skill set.

Oh, I’ve had the occasional run, a 9-hole run within a stroke or two of par, only to have the wheels not just come off, but cause damage to fauna and flora in the general vicinity. For me, more than physical, golf is just mentally draining.

Beyond that, I find it boring, too, without a friend along for diversion or conversation (or consolation). Oh, the vistas are pretty, but if you spend too much time enjoying them, you’re liable to have a golf ball driven past your ear. So, as a solo guy, I’ve not been particularly motivated to “return” to golf.

Additionally, golf is a rich person’s sport. It’s true. The prices of “greens fees” are absolutely ridiculous. Fortunately, Florida has something a lot of other areas don’t. We call it summer. The rest of the world calls it Hell.

During that period, charitably spread from May 1 to October 31, snowbirds scamper away in fear and golf courses, bereft of their open-wallet visitors, drop their prices hoping to entice the locals to venture out into the hot, sticky days of June, July and (gasp) August and September.

In the last few years, the county has built a huge golf facility encompassing several 9-hole courses of challenging design along with a teaching center and a driving range. They thoughtfully built this entire expanse about six minutes from my home.

Yesterday, I bought a bucket of 80 golf balls to try to swing my old and starting-to-rust golf clubs. I invited a friend of mine along, who both likes golf and is good at it. He also hit 80 balls (he actually paid for my bucket, so I bought lunch).

I was at least as rusty as my clubs, but I didn’t entirely embarrass myself. I had most of my same old flaws from years ago (how come they didn’t mysteriously vanish while I wasn’t playing?), but still managed some nice clean strokes.

Of course, that’s golf’s greatest evil. Like those aforementioned “good rounds”, golf teases you into thinking, “Hey, I can play this game!” and then systematically humiliates you in a variety of traumatizing ways.

I’ve got pain today, as expected, in the lower back. Yeah, I don’t have to use those muscles much (really, I don’t have to use any muscles much). But, you know, it didn’t suck being out there.

I think I might go back to the range next week, maybe with a little exercise and stretching prior to the exertion.

Who knows, by the time those reduced prices roll around, maybe I’ll even be back in the swing of golfing.

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