Published on April 26th, 2012 | by Andy Hill0
Learning to Drive
A recent hamstring injury made me realize that I don’t have much of a contingency plan for when I get older. When my metabolism starts to pump the breaks and an impending rainstorm causes my knee to act up I would still like to have some recreational activity I can play with my peers, when my peers and I are grey and slow.
I first stepped on the University of Minnesota driving range on a Monday evening after work. Dressed in a polo shirt and khaki pants, I had to admit to myself, I felt as if I was one regal Rolex watch away from the American dream. I immediately whipped out my phone to check the stock market, even though I don’t own stocks. It didn’t matter. Dress the part. I approached the tee and held the club like I was getting ready to send a high-fast ball over the Green Monster. Collecting myself with a breath, I took a few steps back clearing a path for my running start to make sure I could generate enough ground speed to really send this puppy into orbit. Knowledge of Happy Gilmore, check. I looked over at my friend, Tony, who held good-natured intentions of helping me find my swing. He had the facial expression of a head coach looking over his pre-season squad of misfits in any of those Disney “Sports squad starts off the season tripping over each other before uniting over trick plays for a glorious final moment victory” movies. Unfortunately for Tony, I have little potential to achieve the golf equivalent of Icelandic Junior Hockey Team or put Ed O’Neil and his team of “Pee-wee Cowboys” in their place. It was quickly pointed out to me that this is not the correct way to swing a club. My golf swing started off looking like the wind up swing a gladiator would have made to slay his opponent for the emperor’s satisfaction.
After Tony took his disappointed head out of his hands he showed me how to address the ball. Feet shoulder (or slightly more) width apart. Align the following; shoulders, hips, knees and chin. Unfortunately, if I had to list body parts that will probably fail me at an old age due to my youthful indiscretions; it would be those first three. Focus. I found addressing the ball to be somewhat peaceful, once I was able to silence the chorus of self doubt and second guessing (albeit, only for a mere moment). It’s nice to just share that moment with the ball. It’s at this moment I realized there’s about a million things that could go wrong mechanically with my swing that could send this ball 10 yards out and 60 yards right. Oh well, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Swing.
I’m not sure what that patch of grass had done in a previous life to deserve its fate, but it must have been dreadful. I rained down biblical judgment with my iron and sent that patch of grass straight to Hades. The ball crop dusted about 50 yards in front of me and came to an uninspired rest. Ball contact, I’ll take it!
I had done it. My first swing had been swung. I’m now standing at the foot of the same path all the golfing greats had once stood. However, I got a lot of catch up to do, since Jack Nicklaus started golfing when he was ten and Tiger started half an hour after his conception. Overall, my swing is pretty undeveloped and clunky. As I looked around the driving range I was relieved to notice, so was pretty much everyone else’s. I think I could get use to this.