I’m just sitting here mourning the loss of another Minnesota golf season.
It’s the middle of January. It’s snowing outside. The latest edition of my free subscription to a golfing magazine just arrived in the mail. I didn’t sign up for it.
It started arriving every month shortly after I inadvertently put too much information on a website form. I didn’t ask for this kind of torture. On the cover is some guy in mid-swing, wearing a short-sleeved shirt. I can only imagine that his ear-to-ear smile is due to either; the shot he just made is perfect, he’s making a massive amount of cash posing for this picture, he’s warm, he’s golfing, or, as I must assume, all of the above.
As far as pastimes go, I have plenty that keeps me busy all year. Why today am I lamenting the fact that I can’t chase golf balls through the woods while swearing off this wretched game once and for all, again? The only answer I can come up with is that this past season of golf was a little surreal to me. I had joined a golf league on a whim, and it turned out to be the catalyst for some little life changes.
Being a bit of an introvert, I have spent most of my life pursuing activities in which most of my time is spent alone or with only one or two other people. In a golfing league, I would be spending upwards of 4 hours a week with a mass of people that I don’t know. I’d forgotten I would only have to deal with three of them at a time. Still, that was at least one too many.
The other difficulty that had completely slipped my mind as I was signing up for this thing, was that I’m an absolutely miserable golfer! I grew up in Minnesota. Our golf seasons are terribly short. One doesn’t have time in any given year to spend the hours necessary to become good at it. That’s the excuse that I chose to use. I was amazed to watch the long, dead-straight drives of some of the league members.
Surely, they must winter in Florida or something.
I will emulate them. They have expensive new clubs. I bought expensive new clubs. They have the latest range finders that money can buy. I bought the newest available. They have an app on their phone to track their shots. (What?) I downloaded it. New goofy shirts, shoes, tees, I even bought a pair of golf pants that have a special little pocket in which, I guess, you can put a golf ball, in case one ever needs such a pocket.
I became addicted to the gear and the game. I began playing rounds with other league members on the weekends.
It sounds like too much, I know. But my average score dropped from 105 in April to 97 in October. That could have something to do with the fact that, for my first 35 years of playing golf, I would do so about 4 times a year. After a summer of playing 2-3 times a week, I was able to shave off a whopping 8 strokes from my game.
I still suck at golf, but it was super fun to see improvement. That’s not the important part though.
What I really learned was to step out of my comfort zone in a social situation. There is no hiding my massive slice of a drive with 15 people watching. I can’t fake a good chip shot. But I could pretend to enjoy myself long enough to make a few friends.
Turns out that I loved being a part of that group, despite the truth that I was the worst on the team. Someone had to be. I suppose the lesson was just to grab a hold of that fear, shove it in the little golf ball pocket, laugh a little, and go have fun. Who knows what could happen? I didn’t need the fancy new gear. I just needed to learn to enjoy the companionship of a group of strangers.
This snowy day, I find myself, missing the game. More so, I’m missing the social part of the game. It seems strange for me to say that to myself. I learned this past summer that maybe, being a little outgoing with other people isn’t the worst thing in the world.
But, I just got a new pair of skis, my little story is over, the snow is piling up, and the weather is perfect! See ya later!