Ninety-Nine. A Lesson in Golf.

July 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

On Day Ninety-Nine, I took my first golf lesson. I purchased a Groupon about a month earlier good for three lessons and 18 holes at the Georgia Trail near my workplace. I was planning on visiting my parents for my dad’s birthday, brother’s birthday, and Father’s Day a couple weeks later, so figured if I learned how to golf in time I could play a round with my dad. He seemed pretty excited about the possibility too.

I called to schedule the lesson a week earlier and self-consciously asked about the dress code. As a teenager I had tried to go along with my dad and uncle on a Saturday morning golf excursion and ended up being dressed inappropriately, and thus unable to play. I was devastated, partly because I wasn’t ever invited again. Poor me, I know. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that golf attire as I knew it had been relaxed in the fifteen odd years since my first attempt at the game. A plain t-shirt and bermuda shorts with sneakers should fit the bill for my lesson.

I arrived to the course and headed into the pro shop. The attendant inside told me I would be training with Ned, in the red shirt, who was down at the driving range in preparation. I nervously made my way down through the hot sun and picked up some borrowed women’s clubs. We started with the grip, an uncomfortably positioned arrangement of my hands. It felt as if my left hand was unnaturally twisted around the club, but Ned assured me that with practice I would become accustomed to it. He used an abundance of metaphors and similes for how to position yourself and swing the club.

“Your body is like a clock, with your hands like a pendulum. Get it?” I nodded. “But faced slightly back, so the face of the clock is tilted, right?” Sure. “The club head is a target and the ball the arrow. You want to hit it center. Ok?” Yup, got it. “Keep your left arm stiff, it doesn’t bend until you come all the way back, like at one o’clock.” Stiff as a board. “When you finish, you should tilt your body around so your belt buckle is facing your target; it’s a shining light flashing the target.” OK.

Remembering all of the tips and rules and grips and positioning was fairly difficult. But the first time I made contact with the golf ball Ned was uber-excited. “High ten!” he exclaimed holding a single hand up in the air. I wondered if I was supposed to slap his palm twice or just give him a high five. It was the latter. I didn’t match his enthusiasm which I think disappointed him a little. My mind was still reeling from all of the specific body poses I had to make before I even swung the club.

When I tried to joke around with the pro, he didn’t seem especially receptive. I jested about golf not actually being a real sport to see Ned’s face fall in shock. I quickly grinned and explained that I was only kidding. I don’t know if he believed me.

I tried to hit a few more balls, with a tip after each swing, whether I missed the ball or not. “You lifted your chin. You took your eye off the ball. You bent your arm. You didn’t hold your follow through.” It was hard. I was tiring rather quickly. At the end of the lesson, I dragged my sweaty self back up to the pro shop with the promise to come back to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls and practice.

I had a lot to think about and vowed to remember my grip and tilt and follow through and all the rest. I wondered how people who didn’t take a golf lesson learned the game sport.

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