#2 Green

I’m a late bloomer as far as golf goes. Actually I have yet to bloom much at all, but I’m trying… Until 2007, I had never had much interest in golf. My son, Eric, was very interested in golf from a very young age (like 3), so I had tried — somewhat feebly — to learn to play for many years. Getting whooped by a 10-year old a a regular basis does not bolster one’s perseverence on the learning curve, let me tell you. So, golf and I just didn’t click.

14 Fairway

So, I got my old clubs out (a very cheap Wilson set), and started chopping away.  And I do mean chopping. It wasn’t pretty. I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept trying. It was definately good exercise as I would generally walk 9 holes at least twice a week, even through the winter. I’ll blog about the experience of learning how to play later, but let me just say that I think I know all of the ways to do it wrong. I’m sure I invented a few new ones along the way.

By the summer of 2014, though, I finally started to do a few things right. Instead of expecting to have every shot go somewhere and do something totally unlike anything I imagined before I hit it, I started to expect my shots to be decent more times than they weren’t. I started making better drives, getting more distance on my irons, chipping and actually hitting the green once in awhile, and finishing a few holes in less than 5 putts. I started breaking 100 on a reasonably regular basis, that I’ve continued to improve since then.

Clubhouse from #10 green

So, I am enjoying the game of golf a great deal now even though I know I’m never going to have a 12 handicap. At this point, I’m happy to have a handicap that is a legal number and not 72 like it would have needed to be when I started.

October, 2011: Cataract Surgery

A major turning point in my golf game, and in my life in general, came in October. After wearing thick glasses since I was in second grade. I had cataract surgery in both eyes was able to ditch the glasses except for reading. Amazing! It took some time to get used to seeing differently, but after a few months I got adjusted. For awhile my golf game went down the tubes, probably because I was fixating on the ball that I could now see clearly, and certainly because I would spend all of my time on the course looking at leaves and birds (the fall colors were amazing) and not concerntrating on the game. After I got over that, things got much better. It’s incredible to be able to wear real sunglasses and to be able to see the whole flight path of the ball instead of only the first 120 yards or so like before.

December 11, 2011: Sawgrass and Dye’s Valley

My perch at the Players, overlooking 17.

Last May I volunteered to help at the Players Tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville. My daugher, Erin, is a reporter/anchor for FirstCoastNews, one of the Jacksonville news stations, and she had covered the tournament the year before and found out that then that the entire tournament is run with volunteers — more than 1500 of them. That lets a lot of the profits from the tournament to be dontated to charity. So, I volunteered and got to spend 4 days at the tournament in a “hopitality chalet” sponsored by businesses overlooking the 17th green and the 18th tee. It was tough, but I got through it. For volunteering, I got a pass to play the course one time during the year. In December, the pass was not good for the Stadium course, but it was good for thier second course, Dye’s Valley, which was designed by Pete Dye. So, on the 11th my son, Eric, and I played it.

Eric did great, but I had a less than stellar day. Nonetheless, it was great to see the course and enjoy a beautiful day. We got a tour of the clubhouse and part of the Stadium course after playing so Eric could see 17 and some of the other holes. So, it was a good day even though I didn’t distinquish myself on the links.

Christmas, 2011: OptiShot

Me wife got me an OptiShot golf simulator for Christmas. This thing is really cool. I had been considering getting one for awhile, but I did not think I had anyplace to use it in my house without hitting balls into something that would not repond well. I thought you actually had to hit a practice ball or a real ball for it to work. That was not looking like something that would have a very good outcome. But, it turns out it works great if you don’t hit anything — just swing the club! And, it turns out that that is great practice since you should be thinking about swing and not about the ball anyway. The Optishot software, along with the hitting pad device, provides immediate and accurate feedback on the speed of the clubhead, how many degrees open or closed it is, how straight the clubhead came through the shot, and whether you hit off the toe or heel or in the middle. The simulated results are very realistic, and the courses included with the software are great.  You can set it in practice mode and play shots from anywhere, or you can simulate an actual game. It’s helping my pitiful game already.


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