Friday, December 17, 2010

Work in Progress

It's a Thursday night in late June, nearly sunset, an extraordinary summer evening.  I'm walking up the 17th fairway, hurrying to finish my round before sundown, when I see them:  A young father, not much older than myself and his son, about eight years old.  They're getting ready to tee off on the nearby 15th hole. I watch as the father chooses a club for his son, lets him take a jerky practice swing, and points at the target in the distance.  The son hits the ball with all his might, a 50 yard screamer down the fairway, turns and high-fives his father.

I've heard this story before:  How a father picks up his son from kindergarten early on a Friday and drags him to the driving range to hack his first balls.  How that Christmas he buys a junior set of golf clubs, wraps it himself, and hides it from view behind the Christmas tree.  How the next summer they will talk their way onto the back nine of the local course just before sundown to secretly play a few holes. 

It's a good story.  But it isn't my story.

Though I have learned a great many lessons from my own father, he did not teach me the game.  I'm a self-taught golfer, never having had any formal lessons.  It's not something I'd wish on anyone wishing to play golf regularly.  Go take some lessons. Do it the easy way.  Still, it's a good feeling knowing that my own golf swing, both its faults and successes are my own.  No one has ever taught me to take a proper divot or explained to me the proper position of my right knew during the backswing. And that's okay. I figure it out, bit by bit, working on one thing at a time.  One day, I spend time working on my grip.  The next day, I work on my hip turn.  It's a formula that's worked well for my developing golf game, a formula I also followed with sorting out my own life after I got married too young, became a father, then got divorced.  One thing at a time. Day by day. Practice makes perfect. Insert your own cliche here.

My daughter is nearly 7 now.  Will we ever be out on the links, just the two of us, playing the 17th hole, just trying to beat the sundown?  We'll see.  I don't need to know the answer right now. It's part of me trying to be more patient, like when I go to the driving range and hit 75 straight 9 irons, knowing that one day, those monotonous practice shots will serve me well.

I'm left with the following question:  Has golf taught me patience, a humility that I can carry over into my own life?  Or has my life taught me patience, a perseverance that will positively impact my golf game?  Does the answer even matter?

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