I was done with golf … until I wasn’t
Most sports-loving children have dreams of being either a football, basketball or baseball player.
As a kid, I wanted to be a professional golfer.
I loved the sport. I still do.
I remember in fourth and fifth grade writing scribble marks on scratch paper with golf scores when we’d have idle time during class.
They’d often read something like this: 1. Gisclair -11, T2. Woods -9, T2. Singh -9, and so on.
Imagine my excitement when in 7th grade, my parents allowed me to sign up for the Golf Club at Golden Meadow Middle School. I’d never played the game before in my life. I didn’t have clubs.
But my parents were gracious enough to get me a 5-piece club set from Walmart and I was ready to go.
I was absolutely horrible. Beginner golfers can relate.
Of 10 shots, I’d actually strike the ball maybe three times. Of the three, I’d make actual, real, solid contact maybe once. In those days, I was about 5-feet, 6-inches and weighed maybe 90 pounds soaked and wet. When I say “real” contact, I still was only hitting the ball about 60-70 yards.
But, to, me, I was hitting it a country mile. I was absolutely in love.
Our teacher, Mr. Bob Huth, was patient and gracious.
Other kids in the club were far better than I was and actually had real promise.
But Mr. Huth never let me know that. He spent as much time working on my clunky swing as he did the others.
I appreciated it then and I still do now. I remember being wide-eyed as my mom brought me to the course — studying the holes and the sights.
Those were the days.
Until they were so suddenly gone.
In middle school, I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis and uneven shoulders and hips.
The reason why I wasn’t very good at golf was because my back and hips just couldn’t physically contort the way I needed to make a real, complete swing. All I had in my swing were my arms and little else.
I tried to swing correctly, but it hurt. I’d get soreness in my back to the point that I just stopped playing in the middle of my eighth grade year.
I tucked my clubs in my family’s shed and they stayed there for the better part of 20 years. I always missed playing, but just sort of accepted that I couldn’t, so I just let it go.
Until April 18 of this year.
The day before Good Friday, I went back in that old storage shed to try and find a ball for my nephew. Tucked away in the corner were those clubs.
I pulled one out — a pitching wedge, and I hustled a few practice balls into the back yard.
The old grip still fit nicely.
I made a practice swing, then a real swing.
I chunked it — badly. I took almost half of my family’s back yard out of the ground and into the air. The ball moved about 5 feet.
But I stayed at it. I hit five balls, then 10, then closer to 100 before it was done. The contact got more consistent. The ball flight got better as I continued.
From half swings, I took three-quarter swings. From three-quarter swings, I moved to full swings.
I was pushing my body intentionally. With Good Friday and the long holiday, I knew I had time to be hurt if I needed to be.
I was daring my back to grab at me like it used to do.
But it never did.
So I played again over the holiday.
Still no pain.
I moved the next week from practice balls to real balls.
Still no pain.
I played for five-straight days after work.
No pain — except blisters all over my hands and feet.
And, all the while, I would come inside and notice that I’d taken 15,000 steps in a day, while getting all of the Vitamin D I could ever need.
Apparently, the mild scoliosis I once had has corrected itself a little. I’m now able to use my hips better and complete a full swing the way it’s supposed to be.
I’m still pretty horrible at golf — let’s not get it twisted.
My swing speed is low, which limits my distance. My equipment is old and in dire need of a repair (I’ll work on that in the coming weeks).
But I’m getting stronger the more that I play, and I’m now able to make consistent contact just about every shot.
As I play more, my swing speed will get higher, in theory, and I’ll get better.
But it’s just great to be back out there doing something I love.
I just knew I’d never be able to play again, and that stunk.
But somehow, some way, I got a second chance.
And I’m soaking it in as best I can every, single day! •
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