At the outset of my first lesson, my instructor asked me why I was learning how to golf. I replied that I want to help the college where I work. Stupefied by my response, he asked if I had any interest in the game or if I had ever watched it on television. ((Black girl in New England learning how to golf?! You’d scratch your head too (smiley face)). I replied that this was a practical thing to do and “no, I don’t really care for it; watching it would be a waste of my time.” I thought, in school I learned a lot of things in which I had no initial interest, but they made me a well-rounded and educated person. I looked forward to the learning that golf held for me. He looked at me and said that his goal was for me to not just be a competent golfer, but to eventually enjoy the game. So, I kept an open mind.
My First Time “Playing” on the Course
I am now into my 7th golf lesson and I have even gone out golfing once with a former neighbor. (Yes, I live on the best street in the world!). My first foray onto the golf course nowhere near the instant success that I imagined it would be. I had previously arranged to meet my former neighbor, Mike, at the course near my house. I showed up at the appointed time and Mike was nowhere to be found. The receptionist man, or whatever the term is for the person who books tee times, surmised that he might be in the bathroom. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I did not have my house keys since I logged my clubs to the course by foot in an effort to get closer to my 10,000 steps-a-day goal. Hubby and the kids were about to leave for capoeira. So, I rushed back home to grab my keys. When I got back to the club, Mike was at the bar waiting for me. Realizing how hot and humid it was, in my mind, I settled for simply sharing a drink with Mike. In my mind, he also settled for that… that is until 15 minutes later when he asked if I was ready to hit the course. So to the course we went!
Mike showed me the ladies’, men’s, and seniors’ pitching locations (I haven’t yet mastered golfing lexicon; there’s a good chance it’s called something else). Unbelievable! Sexist and ageist! Sheesh. I asked him if he was for real. He said yes, confirming that the different groups hit the ball from different distances. A perfect gentleman (yes, I’m the kind of feminist who also embraces tradition), Mike let me go first. I tried to hit the ball four times, with no success. Finally, the receptionist man came calling for us requesting that the foursome behind us go first, since it was clear that I did not know how to play.
The foursome went pretty quickly and eventually I hit the ball once it was my turn. We continued to three more holes and I was enjoying my adventure, despite the humidity. I drove the golf cart and learned more golf nomenclature. I now know the difference between a wood and an iron. My golf instructor has focused on form, technique, and consistency. Everything was going well. That is until we got to fifth hole. Suddenly, there was an artificial pond. As a strategist and statistician, I realized by the third ball that landed in the pond that there was no way in heaven or hell that I could hit the ball to go over the pond. Mike, however, believed in me. He kept on cheering me on and I continued to hit more balls just to please him. By the fifth ball, I said that’s it! These balls are too expensive for me to keep on hitting them into this stream. He was disappointed and, I, frustrated. It was hot, humid, and my investment literally just went down the drain. I called it quits! I was persuaded to do one more hole, then we left.
My Lessons from Golf
For all the frustration, I am still very committed to learning the game. I have learned a lot from golf. First, golf is a sport. It’s not just about hitting a little ball. Appropriate form, technique, and strategy are so important. Patience, focus, consistency, and practice are paramount for mastering the game. It’s a challenge for me to conquer. I am willing to do the hard work (and in search of willing playmates; can’t promise that it’ll be as entertaining as my first time, unless you find my faux pas humorous). The most important thing that I have learned and much more quickly than I expected is that I can enjoy golf. The older I get, the more I enjoy solitude. To think that I began to learn this game to interact with others, then come to realize that I would enjoy it just as much alone and use it to clear my head were certainly unexpected and welcomed surprises.
In sharing my new “athletic” pursuit with friends, I mentioned that I would love for my kids to learn how to play, both my girl and my boy. After all golf scholarships for girls, especially, are the most unclaimed bachelor’s degree scholarships. One of the most unimaginable outcomes for me related to golf is how much my son immediately embraced the game and has shown great aptitude for it. The baby girl enjoys it too. The boy spent more than an hour last week watching the British Open on YouTube. I look forward to them outperforming me, teaching me, and just having fun with me while hitting little balls.
Read more by
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading