Thursday, November 23, 2006

4. More on Mary

Of course I hardly knew her. She could be a complete turnip.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

3. The First Swing

What finally drove me to playing golf for the first time was being fit for custom clubs. My aunt—yeah, that aunt—took me to get the clubs and she was paying. For some reason it made me think of the scenes in movies where the mother is getting her daughter fitted for a wedding dress. I know, that’s a really bizarre way to picture yourself.

The two year lie had officially become an epic. They girl doing the measuring, Mary, was trying to talk shop with me, asking my handicap and all that shit. I didn’t even really know what the hell a handicap was. I knew it had something to do with my score so I made a crack about being embarrassed to say, and hoping that the new clubs would fix that. Meanwhile my aunt is blathering on and on about how much I loved golf. It actually all worked out pretty damn nicely. I looked like a good natured wise-cracker with a hint of ‘awe shucks’ from my aunt’s avalanche of compliments. The deflection worked; Mary smiled a delicious little I-like-you smile. After the fitting she shook my hand and let it linger a bit.

“I also do private lessons,” she said.

“Great,” I said, “I’ve got a slice to work on.” I had heard golfers in movies say ‘slice’ before, but honestly I though it was good; like slicing through the competition or something.

We ended up meeting for coffee at the club house before the first lesson. I steered the conversation away from golf the best I could, and you know what, we hit it off pretty damn good. It was probably the easiest flowing conversation I’ve ever had. To this day even.

At the driving range, however, it all came apart. It took her all of about thirty seconds to realize that I’ve never swung a club before. She was really confused. If it hadn’t been for my flirting she probably would have seen this at the fitting.

Let me say first that I thought the whole story of how I got to this point was pretty fucking amusing. So I told Mary. All of it. Every disgusting detail. Including how I sold most of the stuff I got on Ebay.

“You incredible asshole,” she said and walked away.

“Don’t tell my aunt.” I called after her. “She’ll be crushed.”

And that was that. As we had walked out of the cafĂ© earlier I felt I could have taken her hand. I hesitated and the chance passed. It’s funny how that narrow window can open and shut. My two year lie—or really more of an avoidance of truth—had cost me something that had felt really promising. At the time I was a bit too disconnected to put all this together. She was what they call ‘One of the good ones.’

I stood for a little while. I‘m not really sure for how long. But I watched people hit balls. Some looked very stiff and stunted. A few people however had a relaxed easy way about their swing, and their balls seem to be going straighter and farther.

I pulled a club out, the 3 Iron, and swung at a ball. I missed completely. I looked around to see if anyone saw. No one paid attention to one more amateur. I swung and missed again. And again. I tried to loosen up. Without realizing it I did something right; I swung the club without trying to hit the ball. I just swung and heard a thwack. The ball flew about 60 yards.

Sixty yards. Looking back I know I topped the ball, and that was for a whole mess of reasons. The specifics are too boring for anyone but the geeks, and the country club crowd.

You might have that one person; the one who you always wonder where she is now; not dwelling on it but thinking “What would happen if you ran into her on the street?” Mary is that one for me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2. The Reason I Took Up Golf

I took up golf out of necessity rather than desire. See, I had this aunt – you know the aunt, the one that gives gifts that has no bearing on the person it’s for. The wrapping was always exquisite so you feel bad for saying anything when you got yet another dozen tube socks.
One year I’m handed this small red and gold box—obviously not tube socks. It was golf tees. They looked like good tees—shiny, colorful—but who the hell plays golf.
My grandma chimes in with, “Oh, you play golf dear.” This is where it all when down hill. Well this Aunt was right there, you see, and you have to understand I was kind of weak then. I waffled. Flat out waffled. I could have just said yes and left it at that, but my weakness collapsed into lunacy so fast I swear I got light-headed. I started talking about golf like hitting that silly white ball was like a spiritual awakening. It was fucking disgusting.
Then my birthday came. I started getting nothing but golf gifts. I got clubs, bags, shirts, coffee mugs, statues posters, fake plaques and trophy proclaiming me as ‘Worlds Greatest Golfer.’ I got this stuff for two years straight before I swung my first club.
So, who the hell plays golf . . . Apparently I do. And you know what? I play pretty damn well.

Then I found myself playing for money. It started with some rich guys at the local clubs. I’d shark them by talking so much smack they’d assume I was full of shit. $10, $50, $1000, and one bet for $63,000. I don’t know why sixty-three but that’s what he bet.
I had the act down. I’d shank it just enough to make my swing look amateur. Then hit it into the sand trap. Let me tell you how much I practiced hitting from the sand. I got to where it could land it in the hole half the time. It became the best trick. I’d cost myself a stroke just to whack it out of the bunker. It made me look lucky rather than good and these guys would keep betting assuming the luck wouldn’t last. It was my Drunken Master style.
One time I showed up without a driver claiming I had to pawn it. I deserved a fucking Oscar my embarrassment act. The more I looked like I wasn’t one of them the more they’d fall for my act. Eventually it became more about the acting. I even gave myself lines one time. That way it was more like acting than plain old lying. Of course that is just ridiculous.

So, last night I had my four hundred dollar driver out on the back lawn of my house up there on the hill. I squared up and whacked that little ball three hundred yards into my neighborhood. The first crash came from a shed or aluminum awning—my favorite hit. I did this four more times that night. That’s usually all I can do before I loose my nerve. No windows broken this time.
I was a hooligan, alright. After twenty-eight years that’s my only accomplishment. Oh, and I was golf shark.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

1. Welcome!

I've decided to give you a taste of my life as a golf instructor. Believe me I sympathize with your first reaction to this; "who cares." But bear with me because its not as dull as you might think.