Novice charts a course to stress release

July 29, 1999

I finally heard the calling of the links.

Or maybe it was the phone calls my husband has gotten all summer long from friends wanting to set up tee times. Or the calls from my parents asking him if he's ready for the course they play when we go on vacation.

[cont. from lifestyle]

It was time for me to face the fact that until I learned how to play, I would be the outsider. The only way to get inside the circle is to sink a dimpled ball into a circular hole with a cutesy flag sticking out of it.

To lay the groundwork for this new endeavor, I signed up for lessons. It was through my instructor that I learned if you don't twist, bend and straighten at the right times, your ball will do countless bad things at the wrong times.


I've felt twinges in my back from gung-ho swings that left the ball sitting smugly on the tee. My contact lenses have felt the sting of dirt freed from the ground with my club. I've dumped a bag full of clubs in front of people at the driving range because I rested it the wrong way on the stand.

But there have been a lot of positive results from taking up the sport I vowed I wouldn't try until I was old enough to look cute in plaid shorts and wing-tipped shoes.

For instance, I've broadened my vocabulary. I now know the meaning of the words "bunker" and "triple bogey" and the phrase, "take a drop."

And I've found a new way to relax.

When I get free time in the evenings, I bring my club of choice and a bag of balls into the baseball field across from my house for practice. I feel stress leave my body as I breathe in the fresh air and focus only on the little sphere in front of me.

It's kind of fun to watch drivers of vehicles hit the brakes when they see me lining up to hit a ball toward the road with MY driver. What they don't know is I'm only hitting Whiffle balls, so the chances that the balls will make it as far as their precious windshields are slim to none.

These evenings in the field also have become a time of bonding for my cat and me, as he follows me over there and lies in the sun-burned grass, twitching his tail and ducking once in a while. When I start asking him why the balls I'm hitting aren't going into the air, I know it's time to stop for the night.

One other thing I've learned is that golf has a tendency to bring out the hidden personality traits of people.

My husband, a very mild-mannered individual, becomes hopelessly frustrated when the balls he's hitting curve to the right - or left. He begins exclaiming, "What am I DOING?", a question that I, as a novice, can't begin to answer.

On the other hand, I seem to shed my Type-A personality on the golf course. I feel calm as I slug away at immobile objects instead of feeling stressed about not hitting every shot perfectly. Perhaps with age I've learned that perfection is not possible. Nah.

I think I've just accepted the fact that I'm too new at this to get frustrated about not being very good. For now, I'm satisfied with making contact, even if it takes me three times as many strokes to get it in the hole than the sign on the course says it's supposed to.

Talk to me about this in about a year and I may be singing a different tune. I'll probably be the one on the course yelling, "What am I DOING?"

Meg H. Partington is a Staff Writer for Lifestyle.

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