Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why I Love Golf

I love golf. I started to play not long after I met my husband. He's an avid and excellent golfer and has been playing since he was a teenager. 

It all started with his teaching me to swing the club on the front lawn. Then we played our first game and I parred my first hole. Yep... I hit that darn little (one could even say minuscule) ball into the equally tiny hole in 4 strokes! Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines "par" as "the number of strokes a good golfer is expected to take to finish a hole or course." Pffft, I thought dismissively... this game is easy... and fun. 

For a few moments I dreamed of playing at some of Prince Edward Island's fabled courses when we were at our rented cottage that summer.

source
And then later sipping afternoon tea on the veranda at Dalvay By The Sea... me in my fetching little golf skirt and sun visor.

Dalvay By the Sea
Then my husband cleared his throat and said, "Suz, you need to tee off." And with the second hole, the fun ended. For years. 

I took lessons from a good friend of my husband's who teaches golf. I learned a few tips. I had a couple of lessons from the golf pro at a local course. Then I took a series of weekly lessons offered at the RA Centre here in Ottawa. (The RA is a recreation facility and organization set up primarily for federal civil servants but open to the public. Hubby played in a hockey league there for years. And I tried to learn to play squash there a few years ago. But that's another story.)

Anyway... every single golf coach or teacher with whom I worked said: "Great swing, Sue." Apparently I looked great; I had good form. I gripped the club properly, kept my head down, rotated all the parts that were supposed to be rotated, followed through with my swing. And couldn't hit the ball to save my life.

Oh, I had a few moments of improvement. Just enough to keep me hopeful. I could chip pretty well. That's the short shot you take to get the ball onto the green. But with the longer shots, I continually "topped" the ball. That means you don't hit it squarely, but kind of skiff the upper half and thus move it about three feet. My legs are too long, I'd cry. Then on hubby's advice, I'd adjust my hand position to try to correct this and I'd swing and dig up about six feet of turf. I could feel the vibration of that all the way down to my toes. "You don't practice enough," Hubby would say. Gawd, I'd think... you mean four hours on the golf course wasn't practice enough?

Then all of a sudden I got better. 

We had been to see the movie Bull Durham while we were on vacation in P.E.I. The next day when we were (trying) to play nine holes of golf... I said to my husband, "I'm going to take Susan Sarandon's advice. What she said in the movie to that pitcher who was psyched out about the game. She told him to stop thinking and 'breathe through [his] eyelids.'"

So I did. I just stepped up to the ball and swung and didn't think about stuff. Wowee... the ball flew through the air. Straight at the flag. I scored a 5 on that hole! And even better than that... I overheard a man and woman on the next fairway... and the man was saying to the woman..."Just do it like that lady over there." And amazingly, he gestured towards... me!

This is me during my "skillful golfer" period. Keeping my head down and putting out at Glen Afton Golf Course on P.E.I. Note that my pink visor matches my pink golf ball. 


Okay. Well that transformation lasted for about three games and then my skills disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived. I breathed through my eyelids like there was no tomorrow... with no luck. Sigh. 

Then I started having major upper back issues. Naturally rounded shoulders, too many long hours hunched over my marking (English teacher = essays, essays, and more essays to mark) and poor positioning when I was cross-country skiing and paddling etc etc all added up to lots pain and months of physiotherapy. And golf became painful in a whole different way. 

The last morning I played we started early, the weather was quite cool, and my muscles were tight. On the first tee, I swung at the ball and felt a jab of pain through my shoulders and neck. Then I couldn't turn my head. Then I was done. I was totally done! "Maybe golf just isn't my game," I said tearfully to Hubby. 

I hate to admit I can't do something. I hate to admit defeat. But golf had defeated me. Hubby replied, "Maybe golf isn't a good game for a perfectionist with poor hand eye co-ordination." Ouch!

So I gave up on golf. That was a few years ago, now. Since then Hubby and I have both retired from teaching. Which means that we're both home... at the same time... a lot. 

Before I go on, it's important to understand one thing about my husband and me. He's a morning person: a get up and get moving, with enthusiasm, best part of the day, has fifteen things done before 7:00 A.M. kind of person. I'm not. I'm a roll out of bed, stagger around, make a cup of tea, sigh, drink another cup of tea, maybe sit and read my book for a bit, then have another cup of tea before I do anything person. Well, except when I had to get up for work; that was different. 

Which brings me to this morning. It's Friday. Hubby has a regular Friday golf game with a group of his hockey buddies. They tee off early, naturally. 

When I stagger out of bed and put the kettle on, the house is silent and still. The sun is shining. I make my tea and take my cup and my book out onto the deck and sit there in my pyjamas. I sip my tea and read my book for a half hour. Then I don my sneakers and shorts and plug my i-pod in; I'm listening to a great Peter James mystery this week. And I head out for my power walk. I feel justifiably pleased with myself, and my world. Back home I shower and wash my hair. Then I make a pot of tea and an omelet for breakfast which I eat on the deck, and read my book some more. For a few moments I just sip my tea and look at the sun glinting off the river. And breath.

I so love these mornings to myself. 

Don't get me wrong. My husband and I do all kinds of things together. We have learned to make allowances for our conflicting natural bio-rhythms. We cycle together at least twice a week, we fish and canoe, and camp, and hike, and travel together and talk politics and books and food and truly enjoy each other's company. 

But I do so love these mornings to myself. 

And that dear readers is why I love golf. Not my futile efforts to swing a club and hit a tiny (yes, minuscule ball), not my fleeting moments of success at doing so, not even the cute pink sun visor. But those blissfully quiet and solitary mornings...when Hubby is out golfing... and I'm not. 


Friday morning...not golfing.

So dear readers... any surprising things that you love that we might not expect?




 ***Note: Thanks to Frances at Materfamilias Writes for the spelling of "Pfffft." She used the word in a post and I thought ... that's the perfect way to express that little expulsion of dismissive air we make when we're being...dismissive. You can read her original post here.


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