I'm guessing, but it's probably been about eight years or so since the last time I played golf. My father is an avid golfer. Most people like to breathe, my father likes to golf. It's his all-consuming passion.
Me, I'm a bit more casual about golf. I own one club: the Taylor Made Ti Bubble 2 driver. Back in 2001 (or so) when it was introduced, it was a monster. A huge headed driver. Today, it's still a good driver though Vanessa's driver looks like it dwarfs mine.
While I don't play very often, nor would I say I have a particular passion for the sport, there's something about hitting the ball in the sweet spot of that metal driver that makes me as excited as a pig roasting on an open fire. That special "tink," preceded by a skillful "whoosh" as the club slices through the air and the head only contacts the ball. None of that dead thud you hear when the club catches the ground destroying the shot. That "tink" sounds as good as sex - without the baggage or ongoing expense.
I'm back on the links in Reisterstown because my friends have lured me away from my cave and into the open sunlight. Dark storm clouds ride the horizon but we're setting off on foot in search of PGA Glory.
As I was waiting for everyone to arrive, I decided to hit a basket of balls on the driving range. Two days before, I had conferred with my dad, whom I interrupted while he was busy gardening. Tickling his passion, he immediately dropped the gardening to talk shop with his son who owns one club. I was seeking his advice on a small quiver to use for today's action. Just a few clubs in a lightweight bag so I could walk the course. He supplied me with a thoughtful set of seven clubs: putter, 6 & 8 wedgewoods, 7 wood, sand wood, pitching wedge and my aforementioned driver.
Dad is a golf fiend slash aficionado. Always ready to lend his knowledge or hold an impromptu golf clinic - whether at the house, on the course or in a ballroom, it doesn't matter. Needless to say, I've been subjected to numerous golf clinics over the years. Golf outings with my dad when I was younger always consisted of a nonstop stream of coaching and swing analysis. To be honest, it really drove me up the wall.
And while I may have been irritated with the non-stop golf clinics of my youth, many of those lessons remained buried in my psyche and surfaced on the driving range. Where to place your feet, where to position the ball, the angle of your arm in relation to the club, the method of swing - it was like greeting an old friend after many years apart. While there were many strokes of the dreaded thud or hooks to the right or slices to the left, sixty-five balls later, my swing felt like it was starting to gel.
As we set off on the course, I found never-experienced-before glory. While the triple-bogey on the first hole was nothing to write home about, the drive was straight and far. The second hole landed me on the green. The third hole I stroked par. I had never performed this well on a golf course - ever. I was stoked. Even Gerry, Rod, Vanessa and Scott were playing with beautiful strokes.
The fourth hole brought us to our water obstacle and I choked. Sliced it to the left and dropped it into the water. What happened? I thought too much. I let the water obstacle cloud my judgement and made me think about the stroke rather than relax and feel the stroke. The second drive was a bit too far but much better.
As we neared the cup on the fourth hole, the skies blackened over and large droplets of water started to fall. Uh-oh. In a moment, a torrential downpour was drenching me to my core. Hiding under a large maple tree teased rather than relieved. A mad dash to a cinderblock shed by the water obstacle promised refuge but inside the 4'x4' structure was a water pump and 480 amp power distribution. Not an ideal place to be soaked to the bone and in a downpour.
We found refuge in a mid-course bathroom and waited out the storm. By the time the rain had subsided, the greens were flooded and the marshal came by in his truck to close the course and escort us out.
Thus ended my first round in many years. Perhaps the best game of my life, wiped out by a late spring downpour. Could I have stroked par today? We shall never know.
But there's always next Friday...