The excuse I give anyone who will listen is that I just learned how to play golf. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it – even though in reality I took lessons at least four years ago.
I haven’t played since September, New England in October and November not being very conducive to the game, what with trying to swing while wearing a parka and unearthing a white ball from a snow bank and all. But I’m now in the land where entire housing developments are built around golf courses.
As luck would have it, the friend I learned to play with is down here, too. She’s well established, a seasoned snowbird, unlike the greenhorn I am. She also has a vast network of women she plays with and they are a daunting group. Don’t get me wrong – they’re kind and friendly, but sprouting from those flamingo-covered golf shirts are arms of steel.
My game is just short of Keystone cops material. I can make it from one hole to the next, occasionally with a pretty acceptable drive and I don’t always work my way down the fairway as though playing croquet.
Yesterday I filled in with a group of five experienced players. Fortunately, I was teamed with my friend and a third woman who I was happy to learn was a retired nurse. I figured nurses are kind, compassionate people and she would be more patient than most with my failings.
The other three went ahead of us, and we waited our turn as they teed off. We sat in our cart and my friend would say, “Okay, that’s Carol. She’s a really good golfer.” And indeed she was. Her ball at every darn tee shot into the sky, probably meeting up with the weather satellite stationed over Sarasota. “Guess how old she is? 85!” This wasn’t encouraging. Not only did she have the taut body of a long-distance runner, her black eyeliner was in place and her frosted hair poking out of her purple bedazzled visor was perfect. The other two were no slouches, either.
The only saving grace was that they played ahead of us, reducing the number of people watching my game to two. My friend played well, the nurse was WPGA material, and I missed balls, dug up the turf, and swung mightily to send my ball a piddly 5 feet in front of me. I did have some good moments, but those have faded away in my memory.
Now I understand the tradition of drinks afterward and I’m deeply, deeply grateful for the restorative powers of a generously constructed gin and tonic.