- 6 1/2 holes of twilight golf: $10.00
- 13 Nike golf balls, sliced into the lake on the fifth hole: $16.99
- Callaway Big Bertha 3 wood, left wrapped around a palm tree at the edge of a lake on the fifth hole: $169.00
- The look on the course pro's face when I dove into the lake on hole five to rescue "wet" ball number 14: Priceless
I went golfing this weekend. The first time in three years.
Golf is a singularly frustrating sport--having the unique ability to both gratify the player immensely, and to cause the player to contemplate inflicting severe damage to himself, to others, or to the course in play, all within a single hole.
I got the itch a few weeks ago during all the hoopla surrounding Tiger's win of the US Open, in overtime and on a messed up knee. I do have a few macho bones in my body (despite the fact that I occasionally wax my eyebrows), and the whole Tiger story got my manly, competitive juices flowing.
So I went down to a local course, walked in, and paid for a round, and for a $16.99 box of Nike balls. The guy handed me the balls and a key to a cart. I, with as much manliness as I could muster, turned down the cart. "I'm going to walk it," I said. Real golfers, after all, walk; even just weeks after knee surgery.
I could see the admiration in his eyes. I could almost hear him thinking, "this guy is the real deal." (In hindsight, I think the look might have been more bemused than admiring, and that he might have been thinking, "I give him four holes before he's done").
The first hole is always the one that really boosts your confidence. First drive out was a beauty; I was looking around hoping that someone was around to see it. Next shot put me on the green; I couldn't believe it. I putted through, and was only one over par.
The next two holes were slightly worse, but not so bad that I couldn't hold my head up. It really started going downhill on the fourth hole (it was actually the eighth hole; I played the wrong one on accident). In two strokes I was just below the green. I figured one chip shot with the pitching wedge, and two puts in, and I'd be at one over par.
Not to be. It took me THREE chips to get on the green. and THREE puts (which put me at FOUR over par).
And then came hole five, the one with the water. My drive was in the water. So I hit another one. Which ALSO went in the water. I had a bad feeling, so I walked up to where it went in, and dropped a ball out in the middle of the fairway. I hit it. Into the water. I dropped another and hit it. Into the water. And another. Into the water. And six more after that. All into the water.
I finally hit my last ball into the water, but by this time that manly bravado had turned into white hot anger. I took the offending club, walked over to a palm tree, and slowly and methodically, wrapped the evil thing around the trunk. I then removed my Callaway XST golf shoes, and my yellow polo shirt, and waded into the water, searching for at least one of my lost golf balls.
It took me a few minutes, but I found one. I climbed out, and dropped it, determined to make the shot before I moved on. Unfortunately, I'd ruined the club I needed to hit with, so I grabbed the first club I could get my hands on, dropped the ball, and took a wild angry swing at the ball.
And hit it beautifully. Straight and true, high and long. Too long. Over the hole.
I dropped to my knees there in the middle of the fairway, and let out a long, bloodcurdling scream.
Interestingly enough, hole five is the only hole that I shot par on (I didn't count the 13 that I hit into the water; I figure the course made $16.99 off of me for those 13 balls, the least they can do is not force me to count all 13 of the shots).
I played another hole and a half, but an underwater fishing expedition combined with a score of 17 on a par 4 hole have a way of taking the wind out of your sails (that, and the fact that I mistakenly played hole 3 again, thinking it was hole 7).
I walked slowly back to the clubhouse, head down, shoulders slumped. The enthusiastic golfer, full of machismo who'd turned down the key to the cart before the round, was nowhere to be seen. In his place was a sopping wet hacker, 13 balls and one 3 wood lighter, trudging back toward the clubhouse in shame (vowing under his breath to NEVER step foot on another golf course as long as he lived. Expletives deleted).
But then I know me; I hate to be defeated by something. I'll be back. It may take me awhile to get up the nerve (and I doubt I'll have the level of stupid self-confidence next time), but I'll be back.
Someday, I hope to make it through an entire 18 holes on one box of balls.