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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Winter of Practice

Today was a perfect golf day, just a little chilly at tee time, but bright and clear and sunny, with just enough wind to make me think briefly about the ball drifting.

I'm an all-year golfer, so fortunate to live in a temperate climate. Still, we have "winter golf" with dormant grass, cold rainy days that are followed by unsatisfing rounds of mud-golf which, as my friend Betty Bates reminds me when I complain, are still more satisfying than cleaning our bathrooms, but not by much.  But today mud-golf was only a dim memory.  The weather was glorious and the company was pleasant.  Who could ask for more?

Coming up the 18th fairway I started thinking about food.  I had a fine drive and in my mind had already finished the hole and the round with a par, put my clubs in my car, settled my wagers, and was eating a burger, and maybe some fries.  Definitely some fries.  My 2nd shot went right.  Whoops.  I forgot that i have to finish the shot, the hole, the round before i can go on to lunch.   Not far right, into the pond, but a little right, into the rough, coming to rest in a bed of pine straw.  What had been a clear shot to the green and the pin was now somewhat more complicated, not only by the pine straw but also by the right-side bunker.  Now what?

I've spent the winter trying to make friends with a new lob wedge, a difficult task made infinitely harder by the hard, dry dormant grass, or no grass at all.  Every now and then I have executed a decent approach shot but without the green fluffy stuff under my ball, I hadn't gained that feeling of confidence that comes with consistently executed shots.  Still, I've kept the club in my bag and worked with it.

As I considered my options and the demands of the shot -- just about the right distance for my flop shot with my sand wedge, but up-hill and from the pine straw I would need a little more club, too short for my pitching wedge, didn't want to end up across the green up on a hill in the rough -- I drew my lob wedge out of my bag, lined up the shot, and let go.  My ball popped up out of the pine straw, soared over the bunker, and sat down on the green like a well-trained puppy. A winter of practice for a single perfect moment on a spring afternoon. 

Oh my goodness, I do love golf.