When the first COVID-19 quarantine struck, some people took up new and interesting hobbies. They enveloped themselves into the intricacies of baking bread, tested their hand in yoga, or tried writing a novel. I, instead, elected to throw myself into a life of frustrations and agony in the world of golf.
Little did I know that I was setting myself up for eight months filled with addiction to handicaps, pars, and slices
This past April, I decided to dip my toe back into golf with the help of my father. Growing up, I would play with my dad a few times each year, being a crutch in scramble tournaments that let me tee-off with a 100-yard head start.
When I began to get more involved with baseball, my golf game drifted. It reached a point where I never picked up a club throughout high school and the little skill or knowledge I had quickly gone out the door.
Golfing during the pandemic offered the competition I would be missing with the cancellation of baseball. This time, however, it would become a competition with myself
A perfect storm was then created once the courses reopened amidst the pandemic. I was a “beginner” to the sport, with a dad who wanted to still be better than his son at something and a brand-new addiction to fill the time; what a blend to start golfing with
The Struggles of First Beginning
The first step was to actually swing a club.
Standing over the first bucket on the range, there was a sense of utter confidence. The cool breeze of the April afternoon melted around my first practice swings with a soft nine-iron. I was ready to purely strike the ball and send it 150 yards downrange. Cool, calm and collected, I began my swing
All of this confidence went out the door as the clubface hit the ball; a 20-yard topped groundball has that effect.
Every swing thereafter slowly drove me closer to insanity. I would go from topping the ball to hitting a line drive, to having a straight shank, each of which infuriated me even more.
No matter how many swings I took that day, I continued being the worst golfer of all time.
Maybe the driver would be better. After all, it would be more fun to just see how far I could hit it, rather than the pesky finesse needed with the irons. Well… that was a great idea until the clubhead broke off and flew 50 yards further than the ball on the second swing.
This was truly rock bottom.
Once it was all over on that day, I could’ve elected to just quit. However, there was something drawing me back as if I were a fish on a hook; I was starting to become addicted.
The Addiction Phase
It may be because I am competitive, or perhaps it was born from boredom, but I just kept going back to the driving range. Each time there would be an incremental improvement, though it’d be hard not to if you hit 200 balls each day.
I would wake up and tell myself: “Time to go golf.”
There, I would take my stance and wind up, praying that the ball was hit well each time. It wasn’t. However, there would be one swing where all of the stars aligned, and a divine power ran through my backswing. I would hit the ball pure and just sit back in amazement.
Then, I would try to hit the next one further and screw myself over.
Eventually, I was able to actually hit the ball well enough; it was time to finally play. My dad, of course, was buzzing to get out on the course and put me to shame. After all, I went to each tee with just a four-iron in fear of having to buy a new driver or wood.
The first round went as you would expect. We decided to walk the course, letting me contemplate my future in the sport with a nice afternoon stroll as I searched for my ball in the woods.
Unsurprisingly, I finished with a 119, going home with a bruised ego and some very sore legs (man, walking 18 holes is tougher than it seems).
This is a story of perseverance, however. I slowly progressed and improved, posting scores throughout the summer that didn’t push me to cower in embarrassment when I reached the clubhouse.
Also, by some sort of help from a higher power, I actually hit the driver without sending the ball three fairways over.
Before I realized it, the summer had flown by with me focusing a lot on exploring the game of golf. It was a hobby I never had before but is something I couldn’t imagine being without. Now, as the snow slowly starts to pile up outside, I am left dreaming of warmer days on the course.
While the COVID-19 pandemic took away a lot from our lives, it added the sport of golf for a lot of people. Some may have taken it seriously, like me, while others took the opportunity to go out with friends and struggle through it.
However, at the core of it, we were all out there for the same reason; we were robbed of that competition and golf gave us an outlet to replace it. For me, I found a place that I can go to get away from the stressors of day-to-day life. I may get pissed off out there, but it is such a welcomed escape.
For me, I know that the pandemic has added a golf addiction that I will have for life.
Tyler Wells is a born-again golfer from northeastern Vermont that has to dodge the rain and snow for most of the year. Currently, he is a collegiate baseball player at the University of New Haven, and he'll use the "it's a different swing" excuse on every bad shot. He can be a decent golfer when he doesn't slice his tee shot into the next fairway.
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