Saturday, July 6, 2013


That resounding thud you heard yesterday was the sound of my golf game falling heavily back to earth. More accurately, it is the opposite of the gravitational forces at work, for in this sport when your score goes down it must eventually, and with great consternation, elevate.

73. After more than a half a century of searching, I  finally located the swing that had been hiding deep in a dark corner of the room. I had stumbled upon the answer. From the first tee to the last, nary a hiccup or a bobble. Sure the hole still seemed to disappear as soon as the putt left my club-face, but really even I had a hard time complaining.  So this is what the game looks like when you are having fun.

I found that I could chat a bit between shots, impressing not only with the trajectory of the little white ball but the light-hearted banter that emanated from me. This jovial person has virtually been missing in action since those first ugly moments as a little boy when the parabola of the club in flight was far more impressive than the dribble, slice, shank (I have a hard time even writing that word) or other miserable misfire.

No longer did I have a perpetual scowl attached to my inner linings, no more was I contemplating the next disaster. Yet, in the recesses of my mind, even in the midst of such triumph, I heard the voice of impending doom. "You may have gotten the better of me today, but there is always tomorrow."

Couldn't it leave me alone? Wasn't I entitled to something more than this, after all this time?

Tomorrow literally came the next day. Almost aching to get back to the first tee, I had to wait until the afternoon to impress those gathered. And yet,  from the start, it began to slip away. By the third hole, I was already thinking that I would have to shoot under par the rest of the round to equal yesterday's total. My old companions, doubt and creeping despair,  joined the group, said they had missed me, but had been on a short July 4th holiday. They apologized for their absence but promised they would not be going away anytime in the foreseeable future.

The wind, my most vicious foe, now reared its ugly head, and my body contorted in reply. The greens were too fast, too slanted. The group in front was too slow, throwing off the delicate rhythm that I never really had. The excuses piled on, weighing me down like an anchor. I was back, as if it had all been a mirage.

Golf is a game for fools, trusting against all logic that the next swing and the next hole will be better, be different from all that has come before. The newest club will cure all that ails, the tip on page 34 of the magazine really will mean I can get out of the sand trap without using a hand mashie.  Against all odds and all evidence, there is hope.

But maybe the cruelest irony is that when that moment does arrive,when that drive splits the  fairway and the fade that has been living in your house for 50 years is nowhere in sight, when the sound of the club and the ball is a harmony that only gods hear, when the obstacles disappear and there is nothing ahead but glory,  when the air smells fresher and the grass grows greener, when all the questions have answers and all the effort and the angst suddenly doesn't matter, when everything you wanted and never attained is unexpectedly here, when this happens and you are almost content,  when you dare to believe in miracles, when victory is yours for the taking, it is precisely then, in the next blink of an eye, that it is gone.

Would it have been better off not to be deceived?  When reality smacks you upside the head, when you learn yet again that par is really an illusion,  when you have been to the mountaintop but are now once more at the bottom staring up, when you find yourself  in a very unpleasant conversation with God, when all of this re-attaches to you, is what you saw in that fleeting moment a curse?

The truth is that I am one of those fools and will always be so. Golf is a game that invades your soul and demands that you believe. It is in the possibilities that you step up to the tee. Those dreams are not extinguished by this shot, or even the one after that. For there is always, at least in the mind of a golfer, another tomorrow and another opportunity to shove aside the darkness and find that glimmer of sunshine.  For a sliver of time, I was in its path and it was good.

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