It often surprises people to learn that, in high school, I was on the golf team. I guess it seems odd to them that a woman who grew up on the government cheese side of the tracks and devoted her adult life to fighting male supremacy would partake of an activity associated with old, rich, white guys.
But I did. My grandfather bought me my first set of clubs when I was fourteen and sophomore year I joined the team.
I was never good at it. In fact it frustrated me quite a bit. For a person who gets irritated when things don’t go exactly the right way, golf is perhaps not the best sport. Twist your arm the slightest bit and your ball ends up two fairways over and you find yourself prancing out in the middle of someone else’s shot apologizing and trying to avoid a traumatic head injury.
Like every other sport I played, I brought up the rear of the team. I was usually good at one specified task. In volleyball I had a spot on serve, perfect every time. But when that serve came back over the net I was clumsy as a drunk monkey. In softball I could catch whatever was thrown to me, making me an excellent first baseman. But get me under a pop up or staring down a pitcher and I failed miserably.
In golf my specialized talent was putting. I could sink a putt in two strokes from almost anywhere on the green, much to the amazement of my teammates. This talent was often wasted however on the eighteen strokes it had taken to get my ball down the fairway, out of the sand trap and onto the green.
Friday my friend Nicole asked if I wanted to hit the links with her. I meandered out to the garage to make sure I still had my clubs (the same ones my grandpa bought me when I was fourteen and that I couldn’t GIVE away at a garage sale). There they were, sandwiched in between an old cooler and the hot water heater, probably home to all sorts of insect life. I took a few practice swings in my driveway since I hadn’t picked up a club in 13 years.
As soon as I swung it all came rushing back. The addiction. For those of you who’ve never played, let me explain the allure of golf. There is no better feeling in the world than swinging a big metal club and whacking that pimpled white ball a few hundred yards. Get a half decent shot once, and you’ll be chasing that feeling for the rest of your life.
My game that Friday morning was, predictably, horrible. On most shots I could have kicked the ball further than I hit it. Other times I missed the ball entirely or scalped the grass out by the roots. But a few times I got it in the air, or had that perfect pitch that pops the ball right onto the green. It was enough.
Even though I was hot, getting eaten by bugs and my shoes were soaked with mud and morning dew, I didn’t want to leave. Just one more, I thought. The next shot is going to be the good one. One more hole, that’s it, and then I’ll stop, I swear.
I quit after 13 holes only because I really did have to get back home. But when I called my mom to let her know we were on our way down for a visit, the first thing I asked her was, “Is there a driving range near you?”