Six Lessons in Golf, One Lesson in Love
By Janey Womeldorf
My husband wishes I would play golf. He keeps thinking that if I just tried it, maybe took a few lessons, that I would be hooked. I smile, lovingly. The problem is I just don’t get it; the sad thing is, I wish I did.
I just don’t understand the appeal of a sport that relaxes you one day, frustrates you the next and charges you for the privilege. To make matters worse, buried beneath this roller coaster of pleasure and anguish lurks its insidious addictiveness. I have seen it hijack the minds and weekends of even the most novice of players, one round at a time. I am not talking about the lure of beautifully-manicured landscapes or uplifting company; no, what entrenches itself deep inside every golfer is the silently-addictive, rarely-mentioned quest for the ultimate thrill – that elusive hole-in-one.
Some people spend their entire life, not to mention a sizeable chunk of income, fueling their hobby, never experiencing its ultimate prize. Even the most professional of golfers turn to putty when the sweet magic of the hole-in-one rains upon them. Consider Tiger Woods. Which moment do you think ignites one of those unforgettable explosions of emotion? Is it the hole-in-one on the 11th fairway that humbles him to his knees, igniting thunderous applause from the stunned, but jubilant, crowd? Or is it the two-foot putt on the 18th that rewards him with the trophy and check.
One would imagine that “almost” getting a hole-in-one would suffice. However, witnessing a ball trickle to an agonizing stop one inch from the hole is like missing the lottery by one number. The pain and frustration of the “almost” burrows itself deep into the golfer’s psyche, causing them to forever squirm when they picture the inch of green that made all the difference. Hours have been spent and, I daresay, marriages have been lost to the power of a game that feeds on inconsistency. It just takes that one renegade round when, for no apparent reason, every shot borders on golfing perfection. Whether pure luck or player skill, it sets the addiction in stone, forever igniting the insatiable quest for the perfect round and, more importantly, the perfect shot.
Why, then, would I even consider taking up the sport? I don’t recall experiencing such emotional swings whilst shopping. I neither fall to my knees in homage before the ultimate bargain; nor do I hang my head in anguish when I miss the 50%-off sale by one day. His reaction to shopping parallels my reaction to golf – he just doesn’t get it. The truth is I’m relieved; I prefer to shop alone anyway. He, however, yearns to share his pastime with me.
“You might like it,” he urges, always hopeful.
Fifteen years of marriage later, I conclude only one thing will put his painfully-misguided mind to rest – I sign up for six weeks of lessons. His face lights up when I tell him, and immediately I see dreamy thoughts of future golf vacations spin around in his brain.
I borrow a set of sticks from my sister-in-law. “Clubs. They’re called clubs!” he scolds. They are pink. Immediately I want to go shopping and buy some fun hats for them. He fails to see the funny side, while I fight to stifle the laughter slowly consuming my body. I pull myself together and force a serious face as he diligently explains the different sticks to me.
The day of my first lesson, my husband packs me up like a mother packs a child on a school day. We jump in the car and head out, me for the lesson, him, to spend an hour at the driving range. As we drive, I see it oozing from his face – hope. I picture an imaginary bubble coming out of his head. In it, the image of the two of us, on sunny weekend afternoons, merrily driving to the golf course, his and hers clubs in the trunk, mine wearing furry hats. He tries to mask his excitement but saliva drips from his mouth. I suspect the reason for him coming has less to do with the driving range and more to do with knowing how I got on. He has waited 15 years for this moment, and he does not intend to wait a second longer. It hits me that the outcome of my lessons represents a critical turning point in our marriage. Will you take this woman to forever be your golfing partner? I do. I do. Or, will you promise to take this woman, who will never be a golfer, even though she tried it, and never ask her again? I feel his pain.
He merrily unloads our clubs and helps me over to the lesson point. Then, like an excited child, he bounces over to the driving range. He is in golfing bliss. I, on the other hand, have my work cut out for me. “It’s all in the grip,” the instructor tells us. I am having trouble grasping this basic element and haven’t even touched a ball yet. No wonder I kept missing all those par fives at our local putt-putt, I want to quip. As I look around, I suspect my studious, serious-faced counterparts are not the quipping kind. I bite my tongue and focus.
Six lessons and six weeks later, the results are in. I can hit a ball, make it go airborne and have it travel further than 50 feet. More importantly, I have put to rest the answer to the 60-million dollar question: Golf does not, and possibly will not ever, do it for me. My husband has accepted his fate and actually respects me more now for trying. Ironically, our marriage is even better for it.
“Do you mind if I golf this weekend?”
“No, do you mind if I shop?”
You see, after 15 years, we learned a lesson greater than golf: True love sometimes means not doing everything together.
Especially on Saturday afternoons.
About this writer
- Janey Womeldorf is a freelance writer who drinks too much coffee, loves elastic and can no longer wear high heels. She scribbles away in Orlando, Florida.