Playing badly at the start of a season is not necessarily a bad thing, if you remember not to pound your driver on the ground behind the tee and break the shaft.
OK, so I stood up to the first tee for my first round of golf of the season and promptly hit the ball into the trees on my left. What did I learn from this?
That was really nasty, those of you who thought, “Play tennis?” But, I will overlook it in the spirit of a game in which participants — gentlemen, really — play with a sportsmanship that allows them to endure a multitude of such supportive remarks as, “At least you’re hitting it farther into the woods this year” and “Ever thought of replacing your driver with a chain saw.”
No, what I learned was the stiffness of your muscles and the rustiness of mind at the start of each golf season accents your mistakes. This compounds difficulties you might have in other areas of your game, such as forcing you to ask one of your playing partners to help you count your score because, unless you want to take off your shoes and socks, you’re going to need his fingers, too.
But, playing badly at the start of a season is not necessarily a bad thing, if you remember not to pound your driver on the ground behind the tee and break the shaft.
I am a student of the game, and, by this, I do not mean an honor student. I don’t even mean a “B” or a “C” student. I’m barely passing, most of my rounds.
Still, we “D” students of the game deserve respect for the way we continue to either strive or struggle, depending upon how much we’re mumbling to ourselves. We continue to try to learn the game. Call it summer school.
I mentally replayed the swing I took on the first tee, studying it in my mind, while scrunching up my face and practicing those little “I’m not THAT bad” backswings while someone else was teeing off.
Through this study of my swing, I was able to determine that likely the problem was in my grip, which I altered slightly on my next tee shot. And it might have been my stance, so I shifted my feet. It could also have been that I had the ball placed too far forward, so I stepped up and swung right away before I thought of a fourth mistake.
I hit the ball solidly, and sliced it dead right, over a fence into a farm field, which — the ball having gone in a whole new direction — gave me a feeling of accomplishment, sort of. Although it did leave a door open for such encouraging observations as, “Well, at least you solved your hook.”
And I did cure my hook. Then I cured my slice by figuring that I was not getting through my swing enough, so I swung just a little harder, causing the ball to go right down the center of the fairway. It was a little low. I think it first hit the ground about 20 yards in front of me, and sort of skittered along the grass, but it went more or less straight and all the squirrels were able to safely scramble out of the way.
The point is, golf is an ongoing learning process. You don’t become good at the game in a single shot, nor a single hole, nor in a single round — not even in a single season.
It takes many years, a bunch of golf balls, and a dedication to recognizing your problems and fixing them.
Contact Gary Brown at email@example.com.