I was almost late for the the game today. In one of the greatest ironies of my short blogging life the blog itself was the reason I was almost late. I felt obliged to write this morning before the game and in doing so almost missed my tee time. I certainly didn’t have time to warm up as I had promised myself. But I still felt good. And playing twice in one week would have to be good for my golf right?
I played my second game of 2011 with a couple of my good buddies. I hadn’t seen them for a while and as usual there was some idle banter before the game. We chatted briefly about my “goal” for the year. They exchanged glances, the kind of glances that make you think they have opinions but are keeping them to themselves.
“You don’t think I can do it do you?”
“Well, you certainly have the ability to do it…” my Buddy Mike proffered delicately.
“Yes, and…” I begged. Close friends can be honest, and it is this honesty that helps you grow. Remember that when friends tell you stuff about yourself. Thank them, don’t hit them, no matter how much you want to hit them. Really. In the choice between prison time and new friends nicknamed “killer” or “the dude” choose NOT hitting friends when they tell you truths about yourself.
“It’s just that, you know,” Mike stammered out in his non-offensive English manner, “you do have the most hair-triggered self-destruct button of anyone we know. Keeping that under control for 18 holes is going to be VERY difficult.”
Today I was going to prove them wrong…i knew that today would be different (I had to grudgingly accept that i had on occasion allowed my emotions get the better of me in golf). I can focus for 18 holes…and four holes into my round sitting at 1 over par I was well on my way. And I looked great in my Ian Poulter pants (see photo for proof!)…the corner of my mouth slipped cautiously into a cocky half smile. Was I going to make my Blog redundant already?
And then it happened, after paring the hardest hole on the course – a long par five dogleg – with two well struck woods and an easy chip on to the green we decided to take a short break for a snack to keep up our strength. Addressing the ball on the following par three I realized with horror that in the last 5 minutes I had forgotten how to play golf. Genuinely forgotten. I have the attention span of a Teenager watching Cable TV. Anyone who has played golf will know what I mean when I say forgotten; it felt like I was using someone else’s hands, attached to someone else’s body and it was the first time I had ever played golf. But I knew after all the time at the driving range (6 times is a lot right?) my kinetic memory would kick in…I prayed for the god of golf to get me through this par three. Lacking any confidence I addressed the ball, stood for what felt like an hour staring at the ball, swung slowly backwards in what I hoped was the right arc and promptly topped my poorly chosen 6 iron about 50 yards straight into the ravine between me and my goal. My shoulders slumped, I lost about 3 inches in height and took a second ball out of my belt ball pouch. The way I had been playing I could still hit ball on the green, putt twice, and walk away with a 5. Easily doable. I lined up in a perfect straight line to the flag, felt good about my backswing, started imagining the one putt I was going to make to save bogey and whacked an almighty hook that begun, right enough, towards the flag but ended up nestled just left of a mighty tree that was wider than the grand canyon and taller than the 101 building in Taipei. Rapidly deflating I took the walk of shame to the side of the tree; now shooting four and just hoping to walk away without damaging my up-to-now perfect round too much. Thankfully my mistress, the 60 degree wedge, was in a loving mood today. I shot high, found the smallest of holes through the mighty tree, and landed my ball one foot from the hole…I had saved a five and still only 3 over par for the round…but wait…my ball started rolling backwards, all that cocky backspin practice was working against me as my ball teetered dangerously on the top of an evil ridge placement. Three other golfers, knowing that my continued sanity probably hinged on the outcome of this hole, held their breath as my ball wandered backwards mischievously towards the ridge, and then toppled giddily over the edge rolling not 5 not 10 but 20 feet from the whole leaving a wicked uphill putt and 3 feet of green at the top to play with. Three putts later and I was walking to the next hole with a 7 on a par three and cloud over my round…
And the cloud turned to rain with hook after slice after dribbled shot collecting into a round of 102. 1 hot better than my weekend’s effort of 103. But not satisfying. At least the blog still has purpose! Some say golf is a metaphor for life but it is really the other way round…life is a metaphor for golf. My self destruct button had activated and golf had once again found me wanting. A couple of 300 yard drives during the round (more a product of anger than genuine skill but – for the doubters – I used GPS tracking to confirm the distance, honestly!) went some way to making me feel better but i knew that i had let golf down again. But the great thing about golf is that when I was ready it would still be waiting for me. Gives you a lot of space this golf does…if the 7 Iron is my wife and the 60 degree wedge is my fickle but loving mistress, then the game of golf itself is my Mother, asking nothing, always there for me, and constantly being disappointed by me…
I like metaphors…so kill me…
I took some solace from a few great early holes, some sweet short game shots (before my short game abandoned me like a best friend with a new girlfriend), and two 300 yard drives down the middle of the fairway. You gotta be positive right?
My next proper round February 19…so back to the driving range! If I have any thoughts in the meantime I will be sure to share