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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I've Been Playing With A Masked Phantom Golfer!

I dreamed last night that I was defeated by a Phantom Golfer wearing a Tonto mask.  What's that about?  Now I'm working out my anxieties about my golf game in my dream life?  I didn't know I had anxieties about my golf game sufficiently severe to merit a dreamy encounter with a Phantom Golfer wearing a Tonto mask.

A Tonto mask?  On the golf course?


Who or what symbolic representation had visited me in my dreams last night?  I thought first of the women with whom I regularly tee off and against whom I regularly compete, and I thought immediately of Monster Miller and Bonnie Bell, the current club champion.

Cheryl and I were paired with Miller and Bonnie last Saturday.  Cheryl's fairly new to the game and I'm a little old lady with a comparatively short drive.  Neither of us can compete with those two and Cheryl got all fluttery while we were hanging out at the first tee waiting our turn to tee off.

"We're not competing against them," I reminded her, trying to sooth.  "Don't even try."

"Uhmmmmm," Cheryl responded, swinging her driver around and trying to look confident and aggressive.

"They're competing against each other.  They don't even know we're here," I assured her.  "They're rehearsing for the Club Championship."

There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Monster and Bonnie are going to square off at the Club Championship later in July.  It's going to be an incredible contest.  They're both so focused on that upcoming contest that I feel fairly inconsequential when I'm with them.  I don't think either of them is the Phantom in the Tonto mask.  I question whether or not the Phantom is a person at all.

So I shared my Masked Phantom Golfer dream with the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association this morning as we were pairing up for our weekly Tuesday round.  That morphed into a discussion about snake dreams (not mine) and the Freudian ramifications.

"You're probably going to write something about the Phantom Golfer in the Tonto mask," Cheryl said, swinging her driver around and trying to look aggressive.

I probably am, I agreed.  And then I hit my tee shot and we were off.

The rain began as we were walking off the 7th green.  Not a big rain.  No booming thunder and flashing lightening.  The weather warning horn didn't sound.  There was talk among my threesome of suspending the round.  Not a cold rain.  No wind.  By this point we were on the 8th green.  Rain dripped off the bill of my yellow Cat Island golf cap as I putted, putted, and putted again.  I 3-putted for one reason only: I was afraid to hit the ball down the hill.  Had the masked Phantom had surfaced?

The rain persisted and others began to abandon the golf course.  I played on, curious, inviting the Phantom back for another visit.  I didn't have to wait long.

Playing alone, I put the score card away, pulled 3 more balls from my bag, and decided to spend some time working on technique.  The Phantom showed up when I muffed my lay-up shot on #8 (remember, the pond).  I started to hit another lay-up, then stopped and considered the situation.  I wasn't in the position I prefer for my shot over the pond, a position that's in a direct, unobstructed line to the green.  Did I really need to be in that position? I generally don't get to the green on my 3rd shot.  I get close, but only rarely do I make that green in regulation.

The Phantom whispered: Take another shot and get to your comfort spot.

I resisted, then took a closer look at my lie and my distance.  That pause muted the Phantom.  I was actually close enough to take my ball over the pond.  It just probably wasn't going to land in the fairway, but my ball doesn't always land in the short grass anyway.  Why fear a shot from an unfamiliar place?  Why take the extra shot just to get to my 'safe place' on the fairway? I got over the pond from where I lay.

I played on, newly tuned in to that impulse to take an extra unnecessary extra shot and where it was coming from, inside me.  Then on the 10th hole, a long par 4 (the one that really should be a par 5 for me and the other little old lady golfers), I was about 140 yards out, facing my 3rd shot.  [Suspend your thoughts about the club I needed, especially if you would have picked an iron.  I need a fairway wood.]  The pin was in the middle of an upward-sloping green.

The Phantom spoke: Don't use your 5 wood.  You could end up at the top of the green.

But the 5 wood felt right.  And the problem with being at the top of the green, putting downhill, is, what?

You 3-putted from the top of the green on #7, the Phantom reminded me.

I resisted, and argued with the Phantom:  I'm generally pretty good at controlling speed and distance with my putts.  That was a mistake in judgement, an anomaly.   What if I shortened my swing? I love my 5 wood.  We have a long and very positive relationship.  The next club down in my bag is a 4 hybrid.  It wouldn't get me to the green.  It would get me to the area in front of the green, where I could run up and maybe get up and down for a bogey.  A bogey is good for me on this hole. Putting from the top of the green would likely also end up bogey.  But hit right, I might get up and down for a par.

I used the 5 wood, popped my ball up to within about 4 feet of the cup, and put it in for a par.

And so it went, me and the Golf Phantom who was trying to defeat me, for 8 more holes. I discovered a number of points in my game where the Phantom has been whispering to me, encouraging me to play safe when I might have saved a shot by being a bit more aggressive, to think get close instead of get in on those 10 foot putts, to substitute I hope for I will as my swing thought.

Use your sand wedge for that flop shot, not your lob wedge.  It's not that far.  Just give it some muscle, Phantom advised at one point.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that disaster follows my attempt to make a club outperform its capacity.  Use more club, swing less.  The Phantom was trying to trick me.  Why?

If I hadn't decided to play on alone after the rain began, I might not have had the opportunity to engage so explicitly with the Phantom, who tends to lurk beside me, whispering quietly, when I play with others.  But alone, we could talk more openly and I could see more clearly that the Phantom's motives are not grounded in playing the game of golf.

I have a feeling that the Phantom has been with me for a very long time and will not be easily dismissed.  But knowledge is power, and being more clearly aware of the Phantom's motives and strategies, I am much better positioned to dismiss him as I tee up.