A woman can have the same effect

My first round of golf yesterday started the same way it ended five months ago. With a mammoth drive and some guy behind me saying, “Holy shit…”.

I was playing alone so the twosome on the first tee-box let me start ahead of them. I hadn’t taken a swing since October. When I stepped up to hit I had to give the obligatory warning that the the drive could be pretty brutal.

“Hey man, we’re all in the same boat today,” one of them said. “It just means we get to laugh at you first”. Har-har-har…

After I hit a piss-rocket that sailed over the green on the 292 yard par four, they stood there, mouth agape, while I said, “Thanks fellas, have a good round”. Moments like that are just one of the many reasons I love playing the game.

There aren’t a lot of guys out there who can consistently hit the ball like I can. I’ve only played with two, my dad and my brother. Like most kids, I mimicked what my dad did when I was little. Well, my dad has one of the sweetest golf swings this side of the PGA. When he put clubs in my hand when I was three years old, his was the swing I copied and it’s largely remained unchanged since then. Combine 25 years of repetition and muscle-memory and you get a golfer who can hit the ball further than almost anyone else who steps on the course.

It’s such a mental game, maybe more so for me. I don’t focus on my shots. I don’t line up yardage or take wind into account. When I’m golfing I’m not focusing on golf. I’m thinking about everything peripheral. Like I described much earlier in the blog, I’m susceptible to some really shitty golf. If I’m in a crap mood or I’m stressed or I’ve been destroyed by my job it’s going to manifest itself into some abysmal shots. Physically everything looks the same with my swing; the ball just doesn’t obey. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Yesterday could have gone either way. For one, it was the first round of the year and not a lot is going to go right after a five month layoff. The second thing was my recent romantic interest. It had been the very definition of an up and down weekend with her and while if ended great, you never know the effect a woman is going to have on your golf swing. She’d been on my mind for days and it’s not like I can turn that off when I step up to hit a shot.

Hell, I wouldn’t want to.

Golfing alone, iPod playing tunes in my earbuds, walking eighteen holes might be my favorite thing in the world to do. It’s two and a half hours of just being alone with my thoughts, enjoying great weather outside, nothing else to worry about in the world. It works wonders if I want to blow off steam or get away from whatever’s burdening my mind. Pissed off at my job? Golf 18. By the fourth hole my game will be so shitty I’m no longer thinking about asshole clients or frustrating code. Instead I’m dwelling on how I could have possibly hit two straight in the pond and missed an easy four footer.

But like I said, a woman on your mind can be a positive or a negative. No way to predict it until you take that first swing with an iron.

I stuck it. Par three, 160 yards, I pulled the nine and dropped one six yards from the pin. My game didn’t let up the rest of the evening. I went par, par, birdie, par, par, birdie over the next six holes. I’m lucky to have a run like that in the middle of the summer on my 40th round of the year. What I did yesterday was Brandon Jennings going off for 55. When I got home in two on a long par five (with a six iron none the less) I giggled. Some of my shots yesterday were just stupid.

It’s a nice feeling when your mind is 100 miles away and you’re still able to roll a shitty course on your first round of the year.

It’s gotta be the woman.

Mill Run

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