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Golfing again


With Sabra’s retirement from the veterinary clinic, we have more time to do things together like golf, at least in theory.
When I first started dating her, she played several times a week. Naturally athletic, she was playing a fairly competitive game, which I found unnerving. Not that I can’t stand being beat by a woman; it was the way I was getting hammered.
Long time readers know I took up the game seriously for about a decade when I was in my 30s. I joined the men’s league in Solon, took a couple of lessons, read articles and hit a bucket of balls regularly. I started with high expectations. I’m athletic, too, especially with games requiring quick reflexes and eye/hand coordination like ping-pong and foosball. How hard could it be to hit a ball about the same size that’s not even moving?
Plenty hard.
I especially had a problem with lifting up on the drive, and topped or whiffed too many times to count. I’d like to kill the guy who thought up the custom that if you don’t make it to the lady’s tee box then you have to pull down your pants on your walk to the next shot. One moon in the sky is enough. When I did make contact, it was anybody’s guess where it would go.
If it wasn’t for the men’s league, I might have thought myself getting somewhat competent. That’s because of the mulligan, the one shot I really mastered. But the league kept me honest, and I sported a 14 handicap– one less that the maximum allowed– on the nine-hole course. During the next five years, despite lessons and lots of practice, it remained exactly the same.
Then I started getting creative.
One season I decided to go with ready golf. Ready golf meant that no studying or practice swings were allowed. Get a club, walk up to the ball and whack it. The Happy Gilmore approach. The result? A 14 handicap.
The next year I flubbed an easy approach shot and slapped my wedge into the ground in disgust. Unfortunately, I also had my putter along and laid it next to me in some kind of insane belief that I’d actually make the chip. The result: a putter snapped in two. For the remainder of the season I used the stubby putter to remind myself not to get upset at missed shots. The handicap didn’t budge.
Next, I played an entire season using only three clubs: a driver, a five iron and a new putter. I built a special cart to carry the trio that took advantage of the extra room by adding a cooler for a six-pack and gyro-mounted ashtray for a cigar. If I do say so myself, I was the most stylish player that season on the Lake Macbride Golf Course. Styling, but still shooting 14 over.
Finally, I gave up the game. It was too aggravating.
Several years later, when I started dating Sabra, the clubs got dusted off for an encore. I was pleased to find out, during my hiatus, I actually became a little better. As I got older, I stopped pressing so much. But only a little; still had trouble getting out of the tee box.
The other problem was Sabra.
We’d be on the approach to a par four hole, our balls nearly side by side with one difference: she’d be playing her second shot while I was still adjusting my pants from my flubbed first shot and playing three.
Then she’d hit a lovely iron to the hole, a shot so fine that I’d drop to my knees and say a little prayer of thanks if it came from my club. But not her, she’d be cursing the entire time. “%&#$, I shanked that shot,” she’d yell as her ball hit the green, skittering past the pin and coming to rest on the dance floor.
It might have been the end of my golfing career and our budding relationship except for one thing: best ball.