January 22, 2013

Honest-to-goodness tale from the driving range this past Friday. I’m hitting balls at the far left end of the Superstition Springs driving range, right next to the stall where the PGA pro has his set-up. It’s my favorite spot since, being a lefty, I don’t have anyone to my left hitting balls, and because people don’t like to walk that far the grass is usually better. The pro’s area is really nice – he has a canopy with his name and logo on it, all sorts of equipment, and a prearranged stack of balls that looks like a gleaming white version of the Luxor Las Vegas. Anyways, I’m leisurely working my way through a half-bucket of balls, the weather is Chamber of Commerce gorgeous, and after the cold temperatures early in the week it was nice just to feel the warmth of the sun and enjoy the happy sound of golfers hitting balls down the line.

I have to admit I was striking the ball pretty damned well, at least for me; at the time I was in the middle of launching a string of 3-woods dead center to a tight “fairway” created to the left of the 100-yard marker and the right of some unnatural hills that separate the range from the course itself. The pro was puttering around setting up for his afternoon lessons, so we just naturally engaged in a little conversation – y’know, how’s business, the upcoming Phoenix Open, etc.; we’ve chatted before and he’s a real nice guy. Watched him give lessons before, he’s got a great “bedside manner”.

(Unlike, say, the clown at Green Meadow in Hudson, NH a few years ago who after seeing me hit a few pathetic 5-irons says to me, “why can’t you understand what I’m saying – here, watch!”, and he proceeds to hit a string of shots on one leg and with one hand while laughing his ass off. Or, a guy named Jeff Katz who my late Goodboys friend “Doc” Frechette introduced me to when I was first picking up the game. The guy called himself “the best-ball striker east of the Mississippi” and has me do some drills with a yellow pail and a broom before saying, “I can’t fix you, sorry. That’ll be $40, you can pay me.” Another great confidence booster. Two so-called “lessons”, a dozen years of Post Traumatic Stress Swing Syndrome.)

But I digress…

Ten minutes later the pro’s finished setting up and he’s killing time waiting for his lesson (a 6-year old, no less!) to show, so he stands next to me and says, only half-jokingly, “so, let’s see what you got.” This gets the attention of a nice older fella hitting balls in the stall next to me, so he stops what he’s doing and says with a big grin on his face. “Now you’ve done it”, he says, “you got the attention of the pro!”. I have to tell you, were this during my golf PTSD days of even 4-5 years ago, I’d probably whiff while wetting my pants since I used to get unglued having strangers watch me hit. Fortunately, those days are long past; with the help of my Goodboy friend “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis I’ve actually cultivated a pretty damned good swing that meets my needs and creates no bother or stress at what others might see or think.

So, I tee a ball up and feel a nice, easy swing coming on as I absolutely stripe another 3-wood dead straight down the middle of my so-called “fairway”. I even hold the finish high a few extra seconds for good measure.

“Atta boy!”, says the guy next to me. The pro is quiet for a second then grins, “keep that elbow in and you won’t need any help from me”.

I’ll tell ya, that moment alone was worth about a hundred crummy moments (or more) from my golf past. With golf being such a mental game (and I’m proof of that!) it probably also exorcised a few demons along the way as well.

Of course, ten minutes later I’m duffing 7-irons in front of the 6-year old’s older brother (at one point I look over at him and say, “don’t try this at home, you’ll shoot your eye out!”, but he doesn’t get the joke), but by then the pro is deep into his lesson, and the older fella next to me has left, offering up a half-bucket of his own balls as a “reward” for my good deed. I finish off my session taking some easy half-swings with my 6-iron, creating a lovely blanket of balls around the 125-yard marker. The golf gods, for a very brief second of time in golf eternity, have smiled down on me, and on a sun-washed driving range in the Valley of the Sun on a Friday afternoon, life seems very good indeed.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. Have you considered writing romance novels???? You really should because you actually have me reading all the golf stuff you write…it has a romantic tone and totally sucks me in. If you can write romantic golf blogs, just think what you could do with a romance novel…you’d have legions of women reading them. You could title the first one “Fifty
    Shades of Green”. In case you are not up with sexy book “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

    Comment by Jana — January 23, 2013 @ 5:54 am

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