My brother is being encouraged by his youngest son to “take up golf”. He, at 83 a life-long non-athlete, is considering the suggestion. While he ponders the idea, I’ll tell you about my experiences with the sport. Or is it a game? I’m never sure.
We were living on the Marine base in Albany, GA. when I signed up for a beginners’ class for officers’ wives at the golf course located right on the base. It’s a beautiful course and I’d driven through it
many times. Its rolling terrain was dotted with meticulously manicured greens, little depressions filled with fine white sand, and small ponds littered with lily pads. Adding to the beauty of the course were the magnificent old Live Oak trees, spreading their limbs wide over the grass, and hung with that angel hair of the South, Spanish moss. Gorgeous.
Gorgeous also was our instructor, Bruce.* A civilian golf pro, Bruce ran the pro-shop, gave lessons, and supervised the grounds crew. He also seemed to think quite a lot of himself, his masculinity and his golfing abilities. And he was handsome.
We practiced our strokes for a few weeks on the putting green and at the driving range with varying degrees of success. Finally our little class was ready to ‘get real’ at the first tee on the genuine course. I watched as tiny red-headed Marie our most, uh, challenged player, stepped up, teed up, swung, and missed. And swung. And missed. And finally topped the ball which dropped off the tee and rolled just a few feet away. Marie cussed in her soft ladylike way while Bruce murmured words of encouragement but motioned ‘next’ with a raised eyebrow and a bob of his head.
So tall, lanky Madge stepped up, wound up and shot that ball waaay down the fairway. We cheered, she blushed, but looked proud. It could be done!
My turn. I carefully punched my tee into the earth, set up my ball, stepped back and took a couple of practice swings. Then I ‘addressed’ the ball, wiggled my hips…and hit a beauty! It soared straight as an arrow and high…soaring, soaring…..and landed…..in a Live Oak tree. We waited for it to fall through the limbs onto the ground…..but it didn’t.
“I’ll get it,” said Bruce as he took his putter and trotted confidently out to the offending tree. He swiped upward with his club a few times but the limb was too high. So he threw the putter up at the
ball which was nestled in a swath of Spanish moss. The putter joined the ball and settled in with it….like homesteaders who’ve found the perfect place to make their home.
Dumfounded, Bruce was not defeated. He called and Madge loped out to him carrying his golf bag. He threw a few more of his clubs up into the tree, some came down, and some stayed, along with the ball. Finally, in desperation, he stopped a Marine Corps pickup truck passing by on the nearby road. Jumping in the back he directed it out onto the course and under the tree. Dumping his dignity, he climbed onto the roof of the cab, and reached up to retrieve the recalcitrant clubs. The little white ball declared its independence again by plopping unassisted down onto fairway. By this time a small crowd had gathered and with hoots and hollers they embarrassed poor Bruce more than he already was.
I’ve been told I have a twisted sense of humor. But both Marie and Madge joined me in my knee-slapping, hysterical laughter, very unlike the dignified officers’ wives we allegedly were. Bruce declared our class ‘over’, and stomped back to the club house to lick his wounds. Marie and Madge and I went to our cars wiping the tears from our faces and still chuckling.
My only other attempt at the game of golf was on the much larger course at the posh country club on the other side of town. Here I teed off into water hazards placed just at the end of most of my drives; here I beat away at the ball that refused to stay on the green perched atop a small mesa; and here at last I chipped directly into the cup from a sand trap on the edge of the green. A real golfer passing by commented, “Nice shot!”
That was the day I retired from golf. Quit while you’re ahead I always say. And if I am tempted to “take it up” again, I’m following the advice I read in Reader’s Digest one time. “The game of golf is
enjoyed most if played without the ball!”
*All names have been changed to protect the innocent.