Monday, May 30, 2011

I Really Shouldn't Tell You This

"My swing is so bad I look like a caveman killing his lunch."
-Lee Trevino

As if this sport is not difficult enough. As if trying to figure out all of the complex body functions that need to perfectly harmonize does not require enough of an effort. As if not having the privilege, opportunity, or desire to dedicate every waking moment of my life to practicing is not a big enough of an obstacle. I have a very unique set of circumstances that make it even more challenging for me to practice my swing.

It's like this. I like to go to the Chelsea Piers driving range. It's a very lovely (and very expensive) driving range located on the west side of Manhattan. What can I say? I am a sucker for automated golf balls teeing up to the perfect height as well has covered stalls that allow anyone to practice in all kinds of weather conditions.

But this is not a commercial. In fact, quite the opposite. You see, as I've mentioned once or twice, I am incredibly tall. And for some reason, the hitting stalls on the ground floor have this long strip of PVC pipe that runs along the top of each of them. For a normal person of normal height, it's not an issue. But for me, when I get a long club in my hand, I end up actually hitting the pipe at the top of my swing. And on a couple of occasions have totally busted them. I think they're for drainage or something because one time after I broke one, a bunch of water was dumped on my head. (Nasty.)

So now every time I go there I have to either make sure I use the stalls on the second floor, or only practice with short clubs. Which does not help in the development of my overall game.

Please don't tell anyone. This is between us. The last thing I need is a bill from Chelsea Piers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In Retrospect, It's Not Really My Fault

"Golf is not a game, it's bondage. It was obviously devised by a man torn with
guilt,eager to atone for his sins."
Jim Murray

The incessant downpour that has plagued New York over the past week and a half has given me time to reflect on my first round of golf of the season. And after careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that I'm awesome and that it's the golf course that sucks.

Allow me to explain. I almost always play at Van Cortlandt golf course located in the Bronx. This is mainly because I don't have a car and it's the closest course to my place that I can get to via public transportation. Actually, it's a lovely course in general. Here's a little snapshot of the 12th hole:

But the fatal flaw with this course is that there is no practice area. There's no driving range. There's no practice green. Actually, they recently installed a putting green right next to the 1st tee but it seems like you're never allowed to use it. It does look pretty though.

My point being, I think it's only natural that I'm going to get off to a difficult start on that course if I have absolutely no way to warm up. I'm mean it's a hard enough game as it is. Can't you cut me a break and give me a chance to work out the crappy shots before I start my round? (OK, some of my crappy shots.)

It's only fair.

Monday, May 16, 2011

So...What did we learn from that?

"Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle."

You've all read my last blog post (The Approach), and now you're all bursting with anticipation. You're dying to know how my first round of the season went. Well my friends, it was not pretty. I fell well short of my goal of breaking 90. And as much as I'd love to give you a shot for shot retelling of the traumatic events, I will instead provide you with the major moments.

I'm always nervous on the first shot of the first hole of the season. Everyone's watching and I'm terrified that I'll hit a horrendous golf shot. Not only did I hit 1 horrendous golf shot, I actually hit 2 horrendous golf shots back-to-back. Dumped the first one out of bounds into the trees then dumped the second one even further out of bounds into the trees. A far cry from what I had been doing the day before on the practice range.

Eventually, I was able to improve from God-awful to below average. There were even a couple of semi-decent shots in there. Coupled of course with the, "I can't believe I just did that," shots.

But then a very interesting thing happened at the 15th hole. At this point, it was obvious that I wasn't going to reach my goal. Not even close to it. So I mentally gave up and ceased to care about what would happen. And you know what? I started to swing the club better. I started to hit better shots more consistently. I started to play like I had practiced.

So I guess the lesson is, you can practice and practice and practice all you want, but eventually, when you get out there, you've got to let go and trust it.

Final score: 109 (that's bad even for me)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Approach

If I hit it right, it's a slice. If I hit it left, it's a hook. If I hit it straight, it's a miracle."

If all goes well, and the weather behaves, tomorrow I will play my first round of golf of the season. I went to the driving range today to prepare for it and it felt pretty good. Using my confidence building strategy (see posting: The Mental Game) I shot a 95 on the first "round" and an 85 on the second. Both excellent scores that I would kill for on the real golf course. (Literally. I would actually kill another human being if I could score an 85 tomorrow.)

However, as the big day approaches I find that there is only one tiny little problem: I seem to be consumed with dread and terror about playing. And it really doesn't make any sense. Maybe I'll go out tomorrow and stink up the place. (Like that hasn't happened before.) As an actor, I've performed in front of hundreds of people on numerous occasions so going out and playing golf with a couple of strangers shouldn't be that difficult, right?

(Please note: the preceding sentence was not a shameless attempt at self-promotion for my acting talents. However, the next sentence definitely is.)

Check out my short film online. It's only three and a half minutes.

Click here

I digress.

The biggest issue that scares me is that after all the practicing, all the drills, and all of the positive self-talk that I've given myself, I will still be as shitty as I always have been. Please Golf Gods, let me show a modicum of improvement and I won't ask for anything else until the next round.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where Have You Been All My Life?

"I was three over. One over a house, one over a patio, and one over a swimming pool."
~ George Brett

There more I get involved with this wretched sport, the more I learn things that I should have learned many years ago. It really is a shame that I've only recently stumbled across this wonderful concept known as the Pitch and Putt. Having finally experienced my first round of Pitch and Putt golf, I can truly say that it has opened my eyes. Perhaps even changed my life for the better.

For those of you who don't know about golf and only read this blog to laugh at my pain, allow me to explain. A Pitch and Putt golf course is an 18 hole golf course but the length of the course is significantly shorter. The longest distance from the tee box to the putting green on any hole is about 80 yards. On a normal golf course, a hole can be as long as 500 yards or more. (That's just crazy.)

I went the the Flushing Meadows Pitch and Putt course and, for the first time ever, was able to actually get the sense that I knew what I was doing. There was very little pressure. Since the holes were so short, I didn't have to swing very hard. As a result, the mistakes were drastically minimized. On the front 9, I shot 3 over par and I was seriously tempted to rename this blog "The Joy of Golf."

Then the back 9 happened. Need I continue?

Fine. Let's just say that it wasn't quite as fun. For some reason, the ball just wouldn't listen to me. It would go long, right, left, short. Everywhere except for where I wanted it to go. And it was extra frustrating because I actually felt that I knew what I was supposed to do. I just wasn't doing it.

Oddly enough, the Golf Gods threw me a bone at the very end. I hit a tee shot that I thought was horrible. I just miss hit it very badly. Guess where it ended up? About 4 inches from the flagstick. Tap in birdie. (Yeah, tell me about it.)

I guess I won't be changing the name of the blog anytime soon.