My club moves through the ball, arms extend and hips twist – I watch the ball fly – fly so far I can’t believe it! Wow – did I just hit that? I could be good at this!
Thus begins the day of another deluded golfer…
It’s happened to countless victims. It’s the heroin of sports for mid-lifers. One good smack and I think the next one will be just as exquisite.
My friends who have been golfing for awhile tell me I have potential. Recently they have been inviting me to play and I’m thrilled. (Often I admit to inviting myself – but I’m willing to pay – it seems a little desperate but I power through that).
I haven’t felt this way about a sport in years. This is a sport that fuels hope and dreams and comes just at the right time – a real mid-life bonus.
I’m suddenly watching the Golf Channel. My husband told me I had potential and I could be like Michelle Wie – I guess because my arms are like “Stretch Armstrong.” That’s about all Michelle Wie and I have in common but I find the visual motivates me.
I have no signs of OCD, which worries me. I’m a broad brushstroke type, which doesn’t help my short game. I’m told I need to repeat rituals over and over. Walk up to the ball, take a practice swing, walk away from ball, line up a spot, step up to the ball – small easy back swing – relaxed follow through – UGGH.
I try – I try because I see that flag/hole just 50 yards ahead and I want IN. But being so close to the finish is the biggest tease of all and rituals aren’t enough. I painfully pile up the strokes, into the sand, onto the rough, across those bumpy greens – it’s a marathon and I’ve only gone 50 yards.
And then it’s time to Putt. I am so close to the hole, just 2 feet away – no prob. And I set myself up – I bend my arms just so – I channel the metronome – yuck — a pishy little swing and it dribbles in – an ugly little moment but, I’m ecstatic because I love the sound of the ball dropping into the cup. (My new ring tone is set to that sound) Listen — You Like?
I buy yet another short game club to help out this segment of my game — (I now have 4 short game clubs). One of these clubs better get me closer to the hole. I am a believer. I often think if those 85 year old ladies can do it so can I. (another delusional golf thought).
I’m always counting and re-counting. How many strokes did I have on this hole. I took my first shot with my driver 10 minutes ago. I reconstruct, I visualize, I clench and tune out everything around me and I’m certain I’ve got the right number. Hey, “I got a 6.” And my friend says – “no you didn’t.” Then the self-doubt sets in and I have to prove to them I’m right – or admit I missed one – and why do they care – and why do I care?
This is so fun. I am content with this insanity. I love this new “hobby/sport.” And despite the challenges I am motivated to try to get better at this game and still have fun.
I’ve been thinking at this mid-life mark – about what it takes to be really good at something. I have enjoyed being good enough at several things. Because the spectrum of activities I love takes up a big bandwidth – the challenge becomes – how to start a hobby at mid-life and become good enough – to be content.
Hey, reality is, we aren’t going to make a living at our hobbies — our recreational outlets are just that – but can we still be good enough or even great at them none-the-less? What does it take to be really good at our hobbies: be it golf, bridge, writing, painting, piloting, hiking, skiing, knitting…?
Success/Mastery? I’m discarding Malcolm Gladwell whose insane requirement of 10,000 hours eliminates me at my age and disposition. (Who can put in even 2,000 hours a year for 5 years)?
I think however I may have found good guidance somewhere between the spectrum of Mother Theresa and Lady Gaga:
Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” I know she wasn’t talking about golf – but it appears to work for all new endeavors. And it feels gentle and sweet.
And on the other hand, Lady Gaga kicks our ass with her strut your stuff philosophy : “I used to walk down the street like I was a super star… I wanted people to walk around delusional about how great they can be – and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.”
Somewhere in the middle of these wise women’s words, I hope to find own game.