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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Today I Finally Played Some Real Golf!, Almost

Today I graduated from the driving range to the golf course!

Mary, one of my favorite golf buddies, called a couple of days ago and asked if I was ready to play some golf. The weather has been beautiful - South Carolina winter weather, sunny, in the 60s, not much wind. I've been getting bored with the range, even though I knew my game really isn't up to speed, so we made a date. I told her I would probably only play nine holes. (I'm still rebuilding my stamina.)

Then I talked with my PT team. They assured me that my titanium knee is firmly in place and I've made good progress regaining strength in my quads and hamstrings, and encouraged me to give it a try. "Use one of your clubs like a cane if you get in uneven ground," they advised as I went out the door.

So I met Mary this morning at the golf course and we ran into two more members of our women's league, Bonnie and Alma, and decided to play a foursome.

I was tremendously excited when I stepped up to the first tee. I haven't hit a tee shot for almost twelve weeks and I've really missed golf. I wanted to mark my return with one of those Mighty Girl shots.

It wasn't my best tee shot - not anything close to my Mighty Girl fantasy - but it was far from my worst, and my knee didn't do anything awful (like break apart). We were off!

The first hole was rough. I'd forgotten how to pitch and I'd forgotten how to putt. The putting came back quickly. After a vile 4-putt on the first I found my rhythm and 1-putted the next four holes. But the pitching and chipping - the heart and soul of my short game -  continued to be troublesome. (I think I'm trying to do with my wrists what I should be doing with my body, but I need some time on the range to get the feel of proper leg work and work out the problem.)

When I found myself in a greenside bunker on the 3rd I had a lapse in confidence. My knee didn't feel ready for sand and I said so. Nobody teased me. Nobody needled me. I felt accepted.

I tended the flag while Mary, Alma, and Bonnie putted out and we all walked off the green together. As we passed the bunker Bonnie stepped in and retrieved my ball. I was moved by her incredible kindness, but not surprised. After all, ours is a game grounded in courtesy. Even in the heat of intense competition - and today could hardly be characterized as intensely competitive - true golfers know our round will be more pleasant it we practice simple good manners.

There were a couple of pars on my scorecard today, and a few bogeys. Not too shabby for my first post-surgery round. There were also a couple of snowmen - not unexpected for that first round. And by the time we'd finished the 7th hole I was simply out of gas.

I tended the flag for the last two holes the first nine, put my clubs back in my car, and went home to ice my knee and take a nap, content in the knowledge that playing golf is, as my friend Becky promised, just like riding a bicycle. Most of the elements came back quickly and I'm completely confident that my short game will be back in form too. I'll give it another try on Thursday - perhaps I can finish nine and execute some respectable chips!