FROM THE VALLEY: Yell 'fore,' shoot 6, write down 3
BY TOM VALLEY
About six months ago I was in the doctor's office for my regular visit. He advised that when golf started up, I should start walking the course instead of using a cart. I could use the exercise, he said. He knows that I golf and ride because we are both members of the same club in Medina (N.Y.) – and, occasionally, run into each other there.
Those chance meetings happen when I have to drive to the center of the fairway he's on, to hit my ball back toward the hole I'm playing, a fairway or two away.
Back to his advice to walk, I remember my articulate response: “That ain't gonna happen.” And being a good doctor, he realized there's no cure for stupidity and quickly dropped the suggestion.
My reasoning for using the golf-cart is based on the fact that as a member, I'm already paying a lot of money to make my life miserable. That's a double whammy. There's no need to compound the issue by tossing in unnecessary exertion. I signed up to golf, not go hiking.
Fast forward to the on-going health situation we face today. Previously closed golf courses are starting to reopen, but with restrictions. One of those restrictions being: no carts allowed. You can play but only if you walk and maintain the prerequisite social-distancing measures.
When I golf, the advised distancing thing isn't a problem - not with the guys I play with. They stripe the ball down the center of the fairway. I don't. I go off in a different direction. And as already noted, that can get sticky with the people on adjoining fairways. I'm seldom near those I'm playing with, but I am a regular visitor to the folks on neighboring holes. “You here, again?”
Ability-wise, I would grade my 'iron' game as a D-plus. But I'm pretty solid when it comes to hitting the woods. I'm always in them. The big problem is finding my ball once I'm in there.
Most golfers will tell you that the itch to play after a prolonged absence can be agonizing. It's true. And to soothe that itch you've got to get out and play as early as possible, come springtime. Miraculously, somewhere, somehow during that layoff, the frustration of slices, hooks, chunks and, God-forbid, shanks dissipates. You envision returning to the game with a perfectly smooth swing - a swing you never had in the first place nor ever will - and play like Ben Hogan instead of Colonel Hogan. Good luck with that.
This past Sunday, I played for the first time this year. The weather was nice, so my longtime friend, Buck, and I decided to play 9 holes. We grabbed two pull-carts, provided by the club, to drag our clubs around and off we went.
Buck took the honors and teed off first. As usual he laced the ball down the center of the fairway. He's good, by the way. And then it was my turn. I eagerly set the ball on the tee, took a practice swing and stood over the ball momentarily as I imagined the scene after I hit: people rushing from all over to congratulate me for driving the ball all the way to the green on the 385-yard, par 4, first hole. It was a new year … and a whole new ball game. Let me fantasize. One big exhale and I was ready.
With a fresh tank of thrill-for-the-game coursing through my veins, I swung. Head down, shoulder turn and follow through, it felt great. “Where did it go?” I asked. The sun was directly in my eyes.
“Right down the center,” Buck answered.
“Where? I still don't see it.”
“Up there,” he said, pointing to the sky. “You crushed it. It's just starting to come down!”
And then it did come down. Like he said, right in the middle. About 15 yards from where I was standing. I was now only three hundred and seventy yards from the green. I decided not to putt from there.
I trudged through the day's round with the stark reminder that quite simply … I suck. Toward the end of the day, we ran into … guess who? My doctor. “Ah-ha,” he said, “you're walking. Good for you. How's your game going?”
“Well, playing-wise, I've been under all day.” I said.
“Great,” he said,
“Yup,” I continued, “two under the bridge, four under some pine trees and right now I'm under that pickup truck in the parking lot.”
“Well,” he said, “on the bright side, by walking you may be the only person around to actually get healthier as a result of the virus.” Good one, Doc. “And by the way,” he added, “set up an appointment for your golf game … it sounds sick.” I agree.
And that's the way it looks from the Valley.
Thanks to the good Dr. Madejski and all those in the medical field.