Last year, I was able to lose nearly 45 pounds thanks to somewhat proper nutrition (still made the occasional Whataburger run) and regular exercise. People would ask me what type of program I was on and where I was training and I would simply tell them that I jogged about five miles a day and tried to eat as healthy as I could. Once I found an iPod playlist that worked for me, I absolutely fell in love with jogging. Then for Christmas I received a pair of Nike+ shoes to help keep track of my distance and my love of jogging continued even further. I say all this simply to make the point that I enjoy running. You can find me at Towne Lake almost everyday doing just that.
But when I decided to finally give the relaxing game of golf a try, I had no idea just how much running and jogging would be involved. No, it wasn’t because I didn’t rent a golf cart. The reason, ladies and gentlemen, is that I am awful at golf. Just terrible. Every time I hit the ball it seemed to go further and further in the wrong direction. So I would run over to the ball and hit it again only for it to go nowhere near where I intended. I must have looked crazy running all over that course chasing my golf ball around but I have to admit I still had a lot of fun.
Keep in mind; I didn’t have proper instruction before I took the course. I just paid to play, rented some clubs, hopped in a cart, and took on the game of golf headfirst. And boy did I regret not being more prepared.
When I arrived at Oak Hollow Golf Course, all I could think about is what every golf newbie who has seen Happy Gilmore thinks about. I need to find my “happy place”. So long as I can find it and “go there” everything should work out just fine. But I quickly found out that the seemingly simple task of just connecting the club to the ball wasn’t so easy after all. I always heard one of the tips for first-timers is to not try to “murder the ball”.
So as I stepped up to the first hole of the day, I set my ball on the tee and I took a fairly light swing. Nothing but air. Ball still on the ground. Rookie mistake. Try it again.
Another easy swing. Boom! OK I definitely hit something. Look down. Grass is gone. Ball still sitting there. What’s going on?
This time I won’t think about it so much and I’ll just take a quick swing and play the ball where it lies. Yet another swing and a miss.
By that point I started to hear rumblings from the people waiting on me. One of them steps out of the cart and says, “You need to keep your head down because…”. I tuned them out after that. All I knew in that one moment is that I would rather be getting owned by seniors on the Pickleball court than standing there swinging at air while a group of regular golfers watched and shouted advice. It was already a hot day and add to that the heat of embarrassment, I just wasn’t in the mood to receive any tips at that moment.
So, what was previously supposed to be my “happy place” turned into a nightmare and now I was swinging for the fences. I never played little league baseball or any form of organized baseball but had a recruiter been walking by I’m sure he would have been impressed with my power swing.
Boom! I finally connected with the ball. Unfortunately, it sailed way off course and not very far in distance. Oh well. I was just happy to move on from the tee. It took me a few minutes to find my ball but when I finally did, I figured the hard part was over and now I just had move the ball closer and closer to the putting green. I took out an 8-iron and that looked good enough to me so I gave a good hard swing and heard two sounds. The first sound was that of me connecting with the ball. Loved that one. The next was the sound of my ball hitting a tree and going about 20 more yards in the wrong direction. I chased the ball and when I found it I gathered all my might and hit nothing but air. With nobody watching, I slammed my club down in frustration but then quickly gathered myself again and decided to give it another shot.
I am one of the biggest fans of the television show Lost that you will ever meet. In the pilot episode, the character Jack is getting his wounds stitched up and trying to convince the person doing it that if they just breathe and count to five everything will be just fine. I was willing to try anything so I went ahead and did it. This time I kept my head down, didn’t look up at all, and connected with the ball… which then connected with a steak in the ground and landed 10 feet away from where I was standing. All in all, it took me nine tries to finally get within putting range
And that was just the first hole of the day.
The other 8 holes were just as bad and in some cases worse than my first attempt. I did find one thing that I’m good at though – putting. Putting by far is the best part of my game and even though I know I need to improve I was still impressed with my performance in close range.
I’ve seen the hilarious videos of Charles Barkley’s awkward golf swing and I always thought to myself that if I got the chance to play golf, at the very least I wouldn’t look as ridiculous as Sir Charles. I must admit I got pretty close. I took a couple of minutes of video and the clip at the bottom of the screen is probably the best hit I had all day. Whether you think this isn’t that bad or if you think it’s downright awful – trust me when I say it was worse in person.
There will be some of you who see this video that have years of golf experience and others that only play occasionally. Let’s face it though, even if you don’t think you’re that good you’re still light-years ahead of me. So to you I say, leave me a comment with some helpful advice. Maybe (but not likely) I’m being too hard on myself.
I do plan on writing a follow-up story where I return to Oak Hollow for a second round of golf and hopefully a much better performance. I look forward to the challenge of playing the game again and I look forward to getting help from all of our golf experts on the site.
See you next Tuesday for a new activity and a new challenge. I promise I won’t be wearing the same Mavs shirt I had on for the last two articles.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com