Golf is Hell
I’ve made some pretty big mistakes along the way, such as getting a Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut and buying a white linen couch for our family room, but no mistake was larger than getting one of my kids involved in golf. It all started so innocently. Peter had tried soccer and wasn’t really into it anymore. Great news for me; soccer sucked! Being a Tiger Mom wannabe, I was determined that he was going to have some kind of activity (aka not hanging around at home bugging me). He had played a little golf with his Aunt and Uncle and had a good time; plus they said he had “talent”. Why not give it a try? So, off he went with a $50.00 set of golf clubs and the intent to “have fun” and “make friends”. That’s all it was; simple really. Unfortunately for me, he was noticed by the club pro as having a “nice swing”. Once that swing was noticed, we were introduced to the nightmare world of junior golf.
How could golf be a nightmare you say? How hard could it possibly be, you ask? Golf appears to be such a calm, courteous type of activity. Players seem to be enjoying themselves in a beautiful setting on a lovely day. It all looks so civilized and friendly and casual. They take their hats off after the round and shake hands. They have names like Bob and Chad.
It’s a complete lie. Trust me, I’ve been on the sidelines of this “sport” and I can tell you, with great authority: Golf is Hell!
Once the junior golf thing really got rolling (pun intended), I had the privilege of being personal assistant, chauffeur and one woman cheer squad as we travelled the country in pursuit of the holy grail: a top ten finish at a high level tournament. He played golf, and I took care of everything else. We went to Detroit and Stockton and Grand Rapids and San Antonio and more. Here’s a list of just a few of the many insane episodes of our golf adventures:
Fly into Cleveland at 10pm and drive 4 hours to a tournament? Check!
110 degrees and 98% humidity? Check!
36 degrees and hail? Check!
Driving rain and 30mph winds? Check!
Break golf club during the round? Check!
Forget to wear contact lenses during play? Check!
Hide out under the deck of a house during a lightning storm in the middle of a round? Check!
Forget golf shoes and play the round in sneakers? Check!
Golf ball landing in crotch of a tree? Check!
Hit by golf ball while walking the fairway? Check!
Get lost in the housing projects of Chicago and have to ask for directions at an inner city gas station? Check!
You name how ridiculous the effort and the situation and we doubled it.
In the beginning, I tried to stay out of it. I didn’t know that much about golf anyway. I stayed in the hotel while he played, waiting for the call to pick him up. Turns out, it was much worse not knowing how it was going. Besides, you can only watch so much E! News before you lose your mind. So, I started following along in the round, I figured I could carry the Gatorade and get some exercise. Little did I know that I was entering the 9th circle of hell.
What I quickly learned is that you must maintain a very pleasant facial expression at all times. No matter where that stupid ball goes. For anyone who knows me, this is not easy. OK, a total impossibility. All I can do sometimes is turn around and stare at a rock to try to regain my “that’s ok that you had to hack it out twice from the sand trap” face. I’d like to see your facial control when the ball goes in the water on the 18th hole and he misses the cut, or the ball goes out of bounds and you’re looking in gopher holes in the desert for the damn thing. Screaming after a ball bounces off the cart path and over a cliff is, unfortunately, frowned upon in polite golf society. Also, not so great for your player’s confidence.
There isn’t really anything, sport or not, where just one mistake can make the difference between 1st and 20th (ok, maybe brain surgery). The entire game revolves around managing mistakes. How fun can that possibly be? A puff of wind at the wrong time, a tiny miscalculation of distance, a cough during a backswing. An additional element (as if that was needed) is plain old luck. A bad bounce off a cart path, a 2 foot putt that rolls around the hole and pops out. Those are just a few of the thousand things that can make a round go sideways. Like the game needs any more stupidity?!
I’ve learned to not say “Let’s talk about that triple bogey on hole 13” after a round. I know that post-tournament ice cream for him and a glass of wine for me has healing properties.
I know that there’s always a chance for a win, that is until the ball hits a tree and lands under a bush, beside a large rock, near the water next to a sand trap.
There is a small comfort in the knowledge that there’s always another tournament and another chance at the prize. It just means that we’re back on a plane and then in a car, going to another tournament in the middle of Indiana, in November, trying to find the hotel at midnight, with an early tee time the next morning. Sigh…
It still doesn’t make me miss soccer.