Monday, September 26, 2011

Blessing in Disguise?


The weather has been a little iffy in New York the past few days. If it hasn't rained, there was the threat of rain. So this week I decided to use this time to head back to the old driving range to try and work out some of the issues that have crept up.

If you have not done so already, please click on the link above as it will succinctly explain my feelings on the subject.

I'll wait.

It occurred to me that once the season started, I had not been to the driving range once. Not once. And I, like my friend Mr. Iverson, had developed somewhat of a particular disgust for the idea of "Practice." I mean it's supposed to be about the game, right? What you do on the course. What you do on the field of battle. That's the only place it matters. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Well, that's a load of crap. You can't just turn it on and off. You have to prepare. You can't simply correct your problems by thinking it through. You have to take the action of getting out there and working it out. It's just that simple.

Upon my return to the driving range, I was reminded of the best part of being on there. It is a place to fail without any negative consequences whatsoever. And that is beautiful. I hit a bad shot, so what. Tee up another ball, make an adjustment and hit another one. No big deal. There are no trees, no water hazards, no sand traps, no annoying playing partners, and most importantly, no score. It's just you, a couple hundred golf balls, and a dream.

I won't go into the details of my day at the range. Suffice it to say that it was a very good idea to go. I hit some great shots and some not-so-great shots. But I will return to that golf course with a little more confidence in my abilities.

Which will, undoubtedly, be completely shattered by the 3rd hole.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shut the (bleep) up! (Revisited)

The first time I wrote an entry on this phenomenon, these types of violations almost immediately ceased to be an issue. I don't know what it was. Maybe word got out how much I hate receiving unsolicited golf lessons. But recently, there have been a couple of people that didn't get the memo. And it has really pissed me off. So here's yet another rant on how people need to keep their pie-holes shut when I'm trying to play golf. (Albeit terribly).

A week ago, there was this guy who kept telling me that I had a "hitch" in my swing. He wasn't necessarily trying to give a lesson or tell me how to correct it, he just kept saying that it was happening. So I let it slide (Big Mistake). On the last 2 holes, he proceeded to stand in front of me to see if I was doing it. What a fucking asshole.

I would also like to point out that this guy had the ugliest swing that I had the misfortune of witnessing in my entire life. Sadly, he still scored better than me but not by much.

In retrospect, I realized that in failing to address that issue in the moment, I was announcing to the world that it was okay to just say whatever the fuck you wanted to say to me whenever and however the fuck you wanted to say it.

Yesterday was the biggest doozy of them all. I mean this guy that I was playing with was a Grade A douchebag. He seemed like a nice enough guy at first. In fact, if he had just kept his advice to himself, I would have totally enjoyed playing with him. But that's a big motherfucking if.

It started out fine. He was an excellent golfer and for the most part he kept to himself. Then at the 3rd hole after I missed Par putt, he said, "You're going too far back on your backswing."

Uh oh.

Once again, I let it slide. In life, like in golf, I keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe one day I'll get it right.

Then on the 7th hole is when it got obnoxious. I went to putt and he's standing in front of me and watching to "see what I'm doing" so that he can comment on it. As I was standing next to the ball, I was making a couple of practice swings with my right hand only. This is a nice way to get a feel for the speed of the putt (Please stay awake). So then Asshole says, "Let me see you put your left hand on the club." Instead of telling him to go fuck himself, I deliberately walked away from the putt as if to read the line.

Personally, I thought that was a very clear gesture of passive-aggressive behavior. That I was saying politely, yet firmly, "I'm not listening to you." But he just stood there and waited to give me his unsolicited opinion.

I then said to him, "I take it you're a golf pro." He replied, "No, but I like to pretend to be." We all had a nice little laugh and he seemed to keep his opinions to himself after that.

Side note: I would also like to point out that on the back 9, this excellent golfer's game began to completely unravel. I wasn't happy about it, I'm just pointing it out...Okay, I was a little happy about it.

But then came the 18th hole. I hit a bad shot off the tee. Guess what? It's golf. That tends to happen. Douchebag says to me, "You quit on it."

Okay, it's the 18th hole. The last hole of the day. He had been okay up to this point so I'm going to let this slide and just ignore it.

This fucking asshole then says, "Do you know what I mean when I say you quit on it?"

Who THE FUCK did this FUCKING guy THINK he was to FUCKING talk to me in that FUCKING condescending and FUCKING obnoxious tone?! All of a sudden I'm supposed to be his 5 year-old grandson who doesn't know what words mean?! I would also like to point out that he had just hit HIS tee shot on the 15th fairway. And since we were on the 18th hole, you can guess that that's not where he was aiming. I truly wanted to strangle this man at this point.

However, instead of an Assault and Battery charge, I responded with a very loud and abrupt outburst, "I GAVE UP ON THIS GAME A LONG TIME AGO!" I was trying to be funny but I was just clearly him...and he knew it. His response, "I was just trying to...I'm sorry."

At the end of the round, we parted company with a civil handshake.

So now I've decided that I will no longer rant on how other people need to shut the fuck up about my game. I cannot control what other people do. I can only control myself and my actions. However, if this situation happens again, I will not be cordial about it. I will not be passive-aggressive about it. In fact, I will be downright rude, make the other person incredibly uncomfortable, and possible threaten him with physical violence. The fact of the matter is that people like that simply don't get it. They have no interest in making sure that anyone else is comfortable. They are inconsiderate. And you have to be clear right up front. Otherwise, you will be upset for the rest of the day and ultimately have an outburst anyway. And then YOU end up looking like the asshole.

And seriously, isn't this game hard enough? Doesn't the game itself cause enough stress?

If I don't protect my own peace of mind, no one will.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Driver is Not My Friend

"That's a long way, the wrong way."
-Random playing partner

The Driver. The Big Dog. Let the Big Dog Bite. It is the most powerful club in the bag. Professional golfers can use the driver to hit the ball well over 300 yards. Even your average golfer, when used properly, can hit the ball pretty gosh darn far.

I have, on many occasions, been lured by this vile temptress and have attempted to wield her mighty power only to have her shun my affections. In fact, I have had so little success with this club that I have pretty much given up on it entirely. I've come to the conclusion that I am not worthy to taste the sweet fruits that she is capable of bearing.

Instead, I choose to use the long irons (4-iron, 5-iron) off the tee. I've found (with the exception of today's round for some god-awful reason) that I'm capable of the controlling the tee shots much better with the irons than with the driver. The trade off (there's always a tradeoff) is that it doesn't allow you to hit the ball nearly as far.

And I'm cool with that. As long as the ball stays in bounds and I can find it, I'm happy.

However, there is another, somewhat disturbing, tradeoff that you may not have considered. It turns out that my playing partners are a bit judgmental about my refusal to use the driver. The reactions range from complete shock, mild snickering, and on some occasions, a flat out challenge of my manhood.

I, on the other hand, am shocked that more people don't swallow their pride and use the driver significantly less. Sure, if you're confident with that club I say go for it. More power to you. But to the majority of the hackers out there, I put this challenge to you: Isn't it much better to actually find the golf ball after you've hit it? Isn't it better to see the ball go in the general direction of where you were aiming?

Personally, I have no interest in using my big giant club to hit the ball 250 yards...OUT OF BOUNDS. In other words, A long way, the wrong way.

The moral of today's post is that we have to do what we are comfortable with. We have to play within ourselves and we can't let others dictate what we're "supposed" to do. We do what works for us and what we are comfortable with. It's the best way to survive and even, dare I say, succeed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Optimistic Golfer?!

"I always like to see a person stand up to a golf ball as though he were perfectly at home in its presence."
- Bobby Jones

I've come to the conclusion that perhaps the tone of this blog has become a bit too cynical. (Maybe the fact that the word "Masochistic" is in title was my first clue.) Either way, I've decided to take a different approach for this week's entry. Rather than dwell on my numerous mistakes and frustrations with the game of golf, I will instead share a nice little victory I had on the course last week.

The day started out horribly. (Okay, that's an ominous beginning but it will turn positive I swear.) After a series of very poor golf shots, I proceeded to unleash a deluge of F-bombs. And I mean deluge. I had made the decision then and there that I would no longer play golf. I had given up. I was going to finish my round and hang it up for good.

Then a miracle happened. In my euphoric haze of indifference, I managed to play much better. Most notably was on the Par 4 6th hole. A short hole that's about 300 yards or so with a tiny little lake in front of the tee. I hit a 5-iron off the tee and it landed smack dab in the middle of the fairway. However, I was unfazed because I wasn't planning to play golf anymore.

I then went on to hit my second shot. A lob wedge from about 75 yards out. Again, since I no longer cared, I ended up hitting an incredible shot that landed about 12 feet from the hole. I'll admit that at this point, I was more than a little enthusiastic. (I mean, even though I didn't really care anymore.) I did scream the word, "Finally,"as a result of reaching the green in 2 shots on that hole for the first time all season.

When I saw how close my shot was, I conceded that a birdie would be nice but I didn't need a birdie to feel good. I'd be very happy with a par. (Yeah, right)

I took my time, studied the green from every conceivable angle, and calmly sank my 12-foot birdie putt. (There may have been a fist-pumping motion at this point on my part.)

Needless to say, that was not my last round of golf. Perhaps the golf gods threw me a bone for fear of losing one of their loyal and devoted worshippers. Or maybe I'm just getting better. Whatever the case may be, perhaps I will see better results from now on if I allow myself to celebrate the victories just as much as I flagellate myself for all of the mistakes.