I had never played golf before in my entire life until last Saturday when, the recipient of an unexpected invitation and suddenly excited by the idea, I hit the links with three friends. I used to turn on the television when I was in college and put on a golf, ergh, game? match? routine? I had a little 13″ television set in the living room, and I would adjust the volume to the point where I could just barely hear it in the other room, where I was studying and writing papers. The volume was so low that I could not hear the commentary which, I presumed, was just as annoying and brainless as the commentary for other televised sports. The point of having the television tuned to golf was the soft clapping that occurred at steady intervals. It was serene, hypnotic, encouraging. The applause acted as a sane, civilized cheering section for me as I worked like a mad person in the next room. The psychological effects of random bursts of polite clapping cannot be overstated.
Otherwise, here’s what I knew about golf:
- My dad played it.
- Tiger Woods played it.
- Payne Stewart played it while wearing ridiculous outfits (which I actually loved and secretly coveted as a kid) and then he died in a seriously freakish airplane accident.
That was what I knew. In addition, I played miniature golf every now and then, and even had a birthday party at Putt-Putt one year. And I have a fuzzy memory of going to a driving range one time while on vacation with my family.
I didn’t know what to expect on Saturday, other than having been assured that there would be beer and we would play a modified version of Best Ball. We went to Sligo Creek Golf Course, a lovely nine hole course in Silver Spring. We had a “tee time.” And, I purchased my very first golf accessory.
I received lots of good advice that ranged from tips on posture to arm position, hip movement, which way my head should be pointed and where I should be looking (always at the ball it turns out). I borrowed clubs and we rented racing red golf carts, in which we dashed around the links with our peanuts, blueberries, and beer cooler. Mostly I was easing along the lush periphery searching for where my ball was embedded in the weeds and bushes, nestled cozily in the root systems of trees, or otherwise lost forever. Several of them I never saw again.
I was very fond of playing with a Cobra driver, which I called Oprah because I initially mis-read the name on the club and then, having done so, realized I liked the sound of it better. Here I am “teeing up” (it’s so unnatural to write those words I have to put them in quotation marks; I’ll get used to it eventually).
Please note the sun visor and glove accessory. I also worked pretty hard on my outfit and was pleased, all things considered, because I had no idea (short of buying an ivy cap and a pair of plus fours) what one should wear on such an outing.
Here are a few more shots of me and Oprah.
Say it with me: FORE!
When I managed to actually hit the ball, I specialized in three types of shots: in addition to either a) launching balls into the land that time forgot or otherwise b) shaving them over the surface of the lawn like I was skipping rocks, I also apparently have a great deal of talent when it comes to the most strategic option, which is c) slicing the ball into the adjacent fairway — which put me one step ahead of everybody else once we arrived at the next hole.
The Sligo golf course is wonderful — too bad I am not. But as I indicated, we played Best Ball, which meant that it never took us too long to complete a hole so we didn’t have a huge line of angry golfers (is there such a thing? surely) forming behind us. And, to my credit, there were three or four times when I really did hit gorgeous shots. Those sounded different. They felt different. At one point, Jules said that it’s shots like those that will keep me coming back.
I think she’s right.