Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

It’s hard to believe, but I hadn’t played golf in a year. The dry spell ended last Friday. Finally, there were no more excuses not to play anymore. Income? Check. Free time? Check. Good weather? Check.

With more than a spousal blessing (“Get out of here and go play!”), I headed for the Links for the first time this side of the Rocky Mountains in a long time. I remember that last round fairly well. I didn’t know a soul, yet met a great guy named Kurt who was very encouraging. It must’ve been about 148 degrees that day, but it was a humid heat. I didn’t play particularly well, but it was a great escape for about four hours.

This time I played for another four hours, but I didn’t go alone. I played with friend and colleague, Amy, and with another “new guy” – George. On a rare 72 degree Washington spring afternoon (read: heat wave), we headed a few miles east to a beautiful course with a spectacular backdrop. The rivers running through the tree-lined course were dwarfed by the beautiful jagged-peaked mountains practically within arm’s reach.

I began my round with a blistering line drive at a 45 degree angle away from the tee box – but still in bounds. A sky-high approach shot landed within feet of the pin – a shot, unfortunately, not to be repeated all day. For 18 long holes, I walked, swung irons, searched for lost balls, and hit trees (once nearly decapitating myself). The best part of the day? Conversation. Walking in nature. The smell of fresh cut grass. The pinging sounds in the sweet spot of the driver every ninth or tenth shot that deceivingly prods you to play 18 again because “you’ve got potential.” The cynics will tell you the sport is named golf because all the other four-letter words have been taken. But even in the hurricane that is my current golf game, there’s a comfort, a familiarity, a joy that I find that for a few hours makes me enjoy the simple things in life.

What are your hobbies or simple pleasures that would be difficult to replace? How do they connect you to what is good in life? “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights.” Is golf one of those gifts? It could be eternally debated, but last Friday it was for me.

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