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Friday, April 4, 2014

Confessions of a Golf Addict

So I need to back up before I can go forward with this confession . . . to that pesky shoulder injury -- the one that involved some calcification, perhaps a tear in my rotator cuff, and some issue with my bicep tendon that was causing chronic tendonitis -- that was interfering with my swing.

After spending months swinging my sticks and suffering, and then more months with the physical therapist and still suffering with and without swinging, I gave in and scheduled the surgery I'd been trying to avoid because everybody (translate: everybody with whom I golf regularly who knew at least one other golfer who'd had shoulder surgery) kept telling me I'd be out of golf for at least three and probably six months, and six months without golf felt like an impossibly long time to me.

The surgery was uneventful, outpatient arthroscopy.  I gave permission to repair whatever needed to be repaired, listened dutifully to the possible negative outcomes, paid my bills, collected my durable power of attorney and advanced directives, put them in a blue file folder in the middle of my desk, notified my sons and declined their offers of on-site assistance, and submitted.

I went pleasantly to sleep, woke up with a dead right arm from the nerve block, which was a bit unsettling but not unexpected -- the block wears off in about 24 hours and it's a very effective painkiller -- and received the welcome news that there'd been no tear in my rotator cuff, my bicep tendon was back where it belongs, and I could play golf as soon as I felt like it!

That was a week ago.  Today I felt like it.  I was also getting an acute case of cabin fever, so even though I hadn't felt like driving for a week, even though the most exercise I'd had in the past seven days was carrying out the trash, even though I still had stitches in the three holes in my right shoulder, I set off to join the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association regular Thursday tee time, thinking I'd just ride along, enjoy the dogwoods and pear trees in full bloom and the azaleas that look like they're going to explode any minute now, and do a little chipping and putting.

You know what's coming, don't you?

I loaded my bag onto the cart and off we went.  Alma, Pat and Shirley teed off and I watched.  At the right moment I dropped my ball, chipped up to the green, 2-putted, and we went to the next hole.  Everybody else was getting their driver and I was sitting.  I just couldn't do it.  I pulled on my glove, extracted my driver, and pulled a tee out of my pocket -- you may be wondering why I even had tees in my pocket when I was only going to chip and putt?

"That doesn't look like a good club for chipping," Pat observed while I teed up my ball.

I took sort of a full swing, maybe a half of a full swing, and we all watched my ball take off, arc as it should, land more or less in the middle of the fairway, and roll a bit.  It was short, but it was very playable.  I felt a surge of sheer joy!

"Did you hurt yourself?" Alma asked.

I did not.  All of us smiled, got in the carts, and took off for our second shots.  Game on!  I hit a terrific second shot.  Alma observed, "Maybe that's been the problem with your game all winter."  We laughed and hit the balls again, and again, and again.

My putting was rusty.  The greens are slower now that the grass is growing again, and it took a while to adjust.  Four or five holes into the round, a vision of Cristie Kerr flashed in my head as I stepped up to the tee box.  That woman knows how to take an athletic stance!  I decided I'd really give the shot everything I had. Then I wished I'd continued my little mini-swings, because that one did hurt, but the pain was gone as quickly as it had arrived.  No permanent damage.  I just need a bit more time to get my shoulder working properly.

I only played 9 holes today, but each of them was more delicious than the one before.  I felt refreshed and rejuvenated and drove home wondering why I'd delayed so long accepting the fix that in retrospect was incredibly simple.

But my golf binge wasn't over because today was the opening round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Golf Channel is providing extensive coverage so I settled down with a sandwich in front of the television and indulged in a couple of hours of women's golf.  Charley Hull was playing her usual aggressive, fearless game and Lexi Thompson hit some stunning shots.  That was a special treat.  I'm a big Charley Hull and Lexi Thompson fan.  The teenagers inspire me.  I'd love to play a round with them.

A nap, some minimal housekeeping, and then more Kraft Nabisco, this time watching Michelle Wie, who's looking very good, and Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal.  I could feel Creamer's energy.  She plays golf with a level of vitality and enthusiasm so intense that it captivates me.  Sandra Gal looks like a ballet dancer when she takes her shot.  She's extraordinarily graceful.

It's a beautiful sport, this game of golf.  No wonder I did everything possible to avoid taking myself away from the game.  But I'm so happy to have a working shoulder again.  It means I'll be able to again swing my sticks with fearless abandon, feel that rush of pleasure as I watch my ball spring off the face of my club and take flight.  I knew exactly how Paula Creamer felt when she fanned her face, patted her chest, and then, simply overwhelmed by the delight of victory, knelt down and banged on the ground after she made that 75' eagle putt.

Here it is, just in case you missed it or you want to see it one more time!