Friday, July 1, 2011

The tortoise and the hares

The boys and I played golf this morning, starting the holiday weekend early. I kept my cell phone handy and, sure enough, about half way through the round Ricky called from India to report a successful arrival at his New Delhi hotel. I didn't want to waste my good tee shot and passed the phone to Wiley while I hit from the fairway. There wasn't a whole lot of news to share since he'd been traveling for eighteen hours while we'd been sleeping and hanging out.

We're trying to get back into some semblance of a golf habit. Ricky and I played quite a bit when our first three kids were little. I got fancy new clubs about the same time I became very unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child. Then our golf came to a screeching halt as we spent the next fifteen years shepherding teens with a precocious younger one trailing behind.

This spring we all got new clubs and are determined to get back in the swing of things. I'm not any good, but I enjoy playing, as long as it's not slow. At the first hole today, I switched my clubs from the electric cart to the hand cart. So the boys shared a cart while I walked the course.

The course marshall commented on it to me about the twelfth hole - "Kinda' funny you're walking while those boys are riding." "Yeah," I said, "but they zig and they zag their long shots and have to hunt balls while I hit my four iron down the middle. It works." A couple of holes later, he crossed paths with me again - "I see what you mean."

We finished the round in under four hours, a pretty good morning. Lots of fun. Right now, I'm playing golf with my hybrid four iron, a seven, a wedge and a putter. Every now and then I throw in an extra club. On vacation my hybrid six worked well several times. Today it was my eight.

We spent the first part of our Florida vacation playing golf with Ricky's sister and brother-in-law in Port St. Lucie. They have a time share week at the PGA resort there. We played one of our rounds on a Pete Dye designed links style course. One hole has about fifty yards of marsh grasses between the tee and the edge of the fairway. Sherry, having watched her husband and sons play the course several times over the years, commented quite out loud that someone always lost a ball in the grass here. Dennis, a consistently good golfer, fussed at her for jinxing one of us. Then he proceeded to hit not one, but two balls into the grass. Didn't even make it past the ladies' tee. Hee, hee. Thanks for taking one for the team, Dennis!

Golf is such a head game. Your opponent is yourself. Can you play better than you did last time? Can you play better than you did last hole? Can you ignore your last bad shot and focus on this one?

I wish there was a way for all young men to have to play "Ground Hog Day" golf. A boy would play golf over and over and over, three rounds a day, rain or shine, cold or hot, until he learned how to have an even demeanor, whether playing awesome or ugly.

Ricky played a lot of golf while in high school. Now he can go years without playing and still score in the eighties. He can play a little bit and consistently score in the low eighties. I started playing golf as a way to share his hobby. With limited playing opportunities, he expected to score as well as he used to. I was happy if I didn't whiff. (Whiffs usually gave me two whiplashes - first from the miss and then from trying to see who had noticed.) I couldn't understand how he could get so upset - slamming clubs, tossing clubs, muttering "stuff," stomping off, when I would have been thrilled to trade places. He's a talented athlete. I'm a slogger.

Watching him sulk, golf's appeal diminished for me. But you know what? He figured it out, developed some personal discipline, and we have had a great time playing together over the years. (Right, sweetie?)

I listen to my sons' golf stories and watch them when we play together. It's a tricky thing, knowing when to compliment a shot or how to comment without annoying. Two years ago, Brian played generally ugly, cringe-inducing-to-a-mom golf, and I'm not talking about his scores. He and Ricky played more together last summer while I was laid up, a dad taking the opportunity to demonstrate patience, to walk the talk.

While in Florida and again today, Brian played awesome golf. Wiley, modeling his dad's and brother's behaviours, played awesome, too. Like father, like sons.

When's our next tee time?

No comments: