Went to the driving range with the family recently. It was fun. Now that the family has been parceled out into three separate domiciles, its all the more rare for all five of us to be in the same place together, unless that place happens to be called “The Olive Garden” or “Old Country Buffet.”
But yea, in some stroke of genius, my parents were able to get all of us out and about on a weekday evening for some golf practice at dusk.
As usual, the parents got there early, while the three offspring lagged behind in the other car. I chose to sit the back, unusual for me, but then I had a nice view on the typical conversation between my two brothers… I think their entire relationship can be summed us as one long competition, and the circumstances just change… their always competing against each other for something… today it was tony hawk. They were debating who would win in a hypothetical matchup in Tony Hawk. They were debating about the best way to rack up points. Then the debate changed to who would win in Smash bros 64. They traded barbs:
t: If we were playing smash 64 you would have zero lives and I would have three lives (pow!)
p: Dude if I practiced as much as you, I’d destroy you (zap!)
t: I would take you out in tony hawk its all about grinding (zing!)
p: Shut your mouth, your so gay, I made many little children cry at mcdonalds because of my mad skills (needs some explanation… at the mcdonalds by the church we grew up in, they set up an N64 and Tony Hawk…my brother spent many a lazy sunday demolishing 10 year old kids)
Anyways, we finally got to the driving range, where my parents had already staked out prime real estate, five consecutive stations also with a left-handed one for my bro to boot.
Let the games begin.
Golf can be so maddening. There’s this innocent little white ball, harmlessly lying on the fake grass… I am armed with this impressive club… all I have to do is whack the heck out of it.. it should be so easy. But I just end up looking so stupid. I look like a total moron swinging the golf club. Not only am I twisting and contorting my body in ways that are unnatural for tubby ol’ me. Sometimes I can’t even control the momentum of my various body parts and my stomach flies in one directions while my arms flair in another and my legs give way which makes me do this kind of break dance move to keep from falling down. The worst is when I’m focusing so hard on the ball, in my head, i’m repeating the various golf axioms my dad has taught me:
– short and high
– inside out
– count 1-2-3
– pooooooosh (push)
– eye on ball
Repeating them over and over again in a twisted sort of prayer to the golf gods for a lucky strike. I twist my arms back, raise the club behind me high into the evening air… im signaling to my family that I’m preparing to commence. I feel there eyes upon me. Those snivling little hyennas I call brothers are talking smack about me… trying to break my concentration with cackles of “J. Alexanders!” as Im trying to focus.
I take one last look at the ball and begin my downward swing. My dad tells me to start slow and accelerate into the ball and push it from the inside out. When the club strikes the ball I hear a metallic crack, and immediately feel a sting in my right hand, a sting that comes from the vibrations as the club reverberate to the back of my skull.
In my mind’s eye I imagine the ball soaring high into the clouds. Fellow golfers in the stalls beside me stop and stare, mouths agape. I smile and nod as the ball disappears into the evening sky. But that never happens. Instead, the ball tumbles three or four feet in front of me and then dies upon hitting the surface. The most embarrassing results come when I miss the ball altogether and I have to immediately mask my look of frustration with a look of relief and half-excitment as in, “I just finished a practice swing and I’m ready to take this ball out.”
Imagine that dynamic series of emotions on repeat for, oh, 300 balls. By the end of the evening, I’m tired, sweaty, frustrated and there are parts of my body that have been twisted and contorted that I never thot were possible. How does John Daly stay so fit?
But yea, I think I’m understanding, in small doses, why this game of golf is so addicting and maddening at the same time. Maybe that’s what heroin is like?
My friend told me that “golf is a beautiful walk spoiled by one little damn ball.” That’s true, but then what is going to the driving range… a standing outside in the mosquito filled night while the little damn ball stares at you and taunts the crap out of you? Perhaps.
But either way, I need a hobby. Too much ministry and no hobbies makes the IV staff worker a normal IV staff worker… muahaha. But Golf is definitely gonna be on the short list for hobbies… But in the meantime, I should really get back to work.