The Golf Shot of a Lifetime
My ex-husband had a deep love for golf. A mostly sedentary fellow in his adult life and a white man climbing up the corporate ladder, golf was a sport he happily got behind. To him, it meant a day out in the sunshine, schmoozing and rubbing elbows with the men he wanted to be, the kind of man he was becoming, in a field of verdant green with rolling hills, blue waters, and artistically placed trees around him.
Me? Not so much.
Golf courses have always made me cringe from the leveling of the land’s natural trees and greenery, its Pleasantville scenery a tad too manufactured for my taste. Not unlike some of the players on the course, there’s something about it that feels overly contrived, as if the land were an ingénue trying desperately to be what someone else has decided it should be.
However, like a good wife, I attempted to give his favorite pastime a literal shot. He wanted to spend more time together and share his passion with me. How could I say no?
So I allowed myself to be bribed into taking some introductory classes through the community’s programs via a beautiful set of white-and-teal Wilson ladies’ clubs. (I really liked the color.) After all, I’d been to driving ranges and shot balls off a tee with aimless abandon, and I’d played putt-putt on mini golf courses, and it wasn’t the worst.
But none of these experiences compares to being out on the green on a real, masterfully designed golf course.
Upon completing the entire session of classes, I didn’t feel like a good or even adequate golfer yet, but I at least was connecting with the little dimpled ball that I was supposed to spend my day chasing after. Heartened by the fact that I at least saw the program through to the end and tried, my ex ambitiously decided he’d book us a day out on a 9-hole executive course—half the amount of holes as a standard one—to test out my new knowledge. With trepidation, I agreed.
"I started feeling confident. Like I was really doing it. Like this could become something I could grow to enjoy."
The day started out beautifully. The sun was bright overhead, and clouds were wisps in an otherwise bright blue sky. The grass was perfect and a breeze tickled the back of the neck to ease the warmth of early summer on Long Island in New York. And even better, I was three holes in and gaining confidence, getting distance in my drives, successfully hitting the ball out of a bunker (a new word for me, as I previously had just called them “stupid sandpits”), and even clearing a water feature. Finally, finally, I felt I was getting it.
I started feeling confident. Like I was really doing it. Like this could become something I could grow to enjoy.
I started really feelin’ myself.
“Hey, watch me!” I yelled to him with excitement, breaking the sanctity of the silence of the course as I ran to the top of the small hill to the next tee-off point.
I got into position, an awkward partial crouch, as I set up the ball and sized up the tee. I wrapped my one gloved hand and my bare one on the driver’s rubber grip. Wiggled my hips and planted my feet. I checked to make sure he was looking, wanting to show off, and pulled my arms back in a wide, lovely arc. And I went for the shot with all that was in me.
Crack, I heard, that gorgeous, satisfying sound of contact being made — a hollow sound different from all other ball-hitting sounds — and felt triumphant.
I held that post-drive pose, thinking I was cool, and asked “Where’d it go? Where’d it go?!” all worked up and optimistically scanning the distance with my hand over my eyes like a sun visor.
But before he had a chance to answer, something made me look up … just in time to have my question answered by the ball itself as it forcefully dropped from above.
The ball hit me right between the eyes, knocking clean off the clip-on sunglasses I had on over my glasses as I staggered comedically and helplessly from the shock and insult of the impact. Then, as a final gesture, it bounced in a jolly fashion once, twice, and then rolled to a dead stop literally two feet before my own two feet.
I reached to adjust my glasses, now askew, to check them for damage and turned to my ex to find him doubled over in silent laughter.
“Oh, my God,” he choked out, “Are. You.” He started to tear. “Okay?!” I glared at him and started to laugh myself. “How did you even do that?!” he laughed uncontrollably.
“I don’t know!” I said, cracking up. “I got cocky,” I admitted, face burning as I searched the grass for my sunglasses clips.
“Yeah, golf is a game that’ll humble you when you do,” he said sagaciously.
Amen to that.