I remember it well. I didn’t start when I was young. I was already in my late twenties but when I hit my first well struck golf shot it was one of the most magical things I ever experienced.
In high school I played the big 3 – football, basketball and baseball. This was back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. We did have a golf team but golf simply wasn’t that cool back then.
A number of my friends were already regular players and I resisted for a long time but finally decided to give it a go. Man, was it frustrating. I had no idea how to swing a golf club even though I was a decent athlete. Not a clue.
And I practiced and practiced and practiced some more. I used to go to my Dad’s house to practice because he had a nice back yard it was quiet and no one could see.
What I practiced with were those little whiffle golf balls. The plastic ones with the holes. I figured if I couldn’t get those right I had absolutely no business in attempting to hit a real one.
Not that I couldn’t hit it. I could but they didn’t go very far and I knew I wasn’t getting it right. I was so frustrated I ordered the Wally Armstrong (Remember Wally – the king of the golf props?) kit which was a bunch of plastic training aids in a box. Some were really helpful.
One in particular I remember was a plastic coat hanger. It basically taught you how to feel the “hinge” in the golf swing. Things started to get a bit clearer. I started to “feel” what a golf swing felt like.
Then it happened. Just another day. I found it. I hit one of this little plastic golf balls hard and with a nice thud. I finally compressed a golf ball. (even though it was plastic)
There was now no question. I “knew” how to hit a golf ball now. After hitting about 20-30 more shots with my reliable little whiffle balls I wanted to try a real one. I was pretty nervous. Would it work the same way with a real one?
Anyway, we had this field off to the side of my Dad’s house and the road ran close by. Now it was the time of truth. I threw the ball on the ground and took a swing at it with my rusty old left-handed 9-iron. I was not really prepared for what happened next.
I swung pretty easy. The ball climbed up the face of the 9-iron, straight and true. I could see it clearly against the blue sky. It kept going and going. I had no idea really how far you could hit a 9-iron. And it barely missed a car (as my direction was not quite honed in yet) and hit it clear over the highway. It was incredible.
Then I sort of re-aligned myself and started flushing shots into the field. It was like I found the holy grail. I could finally hit a proper golf shot. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
It’s a feeling (I’m generalizing now) that if you’re a golfer you never tire of. There is something about hitting a well struck golf shot. It’s a thing of pure beauty. You can actually stand there and watch the ball hurdling through the air to your target. Just watch the beauty of the arc of the shot.
To this day (I’ll be 50 this year) it’s what I love about the game. Hitting those shots. Time really stands still for a moment. Sometimes I am really awestruck by it. It’s such a magical game. There’s nothing quite like it.
Here’s hoping you continue to hit those beautifully majestic golf shots year after year and if you’re new to the game (or just a beginning golfer) you’re in for a magical (and maddening) adventure – that I can promise you.
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