I had the chance to play golf with my older brother, and my son last weekend. It was fantastic. So fan-fucking-tastic that I almost drove my cart into the pond to stop the pain. Seeing as how I love both my brother and my son...I'll back up a tiny bit.
My older brother and I have an odd relationship. He's part father, brother, and close friend to me. He's a technically minded problem solver and uber-efficient. I'm a socially minded problem sorter-outer, and sort of a "we'll get the work done on time, don't rush me" kind of guy. Other than that...we think a lot alike.
My son, Malcolm, is 7. He's a fantastic kid, and he's learning the great game of golf. [beaming dad moment...]
I was ready to play. Hadn't played in a couple of weeks, and I've been working on my putting all year long (which has improved greatly, I would add). I'm trying very hard to make golf a horseshoes kind of mentality (just hit it AT the target over there somewhere), as opposed to darts (I'm trying to put the ball right THERE). I'm enjoying golf and slowly getting a bit better, though my scores don't show it...and I guess that's all that matters.
So, we play. I'm hitting the ball ok, and worried that the track we're playing isn't good enough for my country club belonging brother. Which really doesn't matter, golf is golf if you love the game, but I'm mental...don't forget that. I wouldn't have a blog if I wasn't mental, and my life would be no fun.
I figure out later, that my major malfunction started on the second hole. My son, wishes to tee of on every hole and hits the ball...maybe 100 yards on a good hit. NOTE: he was not hitting the ball well this day. He's taking his time (like I taught him) and is playing a bit slow. On the other hand, Captain Efficiency is always ready to go and can play 9 holes in about an hour if its open.
I become a nervous sandwich, uncomfortably wedged between the "fast and the furious" older brother and "methodical perfectionist" son.
3rd hole: I hit a tee shot with a 5 iron. I think the people a street over to the left of me are in danger of losing a window. "What the fuck was that?" I say...and yes, the boy was standing there. My brother, is in that all too awkward position of having hit a solid tee shot and just watched his playing partner crap himself on the tee... I hit another ball...which also goes left, but will play.
I was settling down by the 5th hole and getting my head back on straight, managing the the plodding and the speeding...I put my tee shot right in the fairway. My approach shot, however, somehow travels through space, time, and the wind, to fly a 9 iron 165+ yards over the green into the river. "Really, I really want to know what the fuck that was?"
Have you ever been playing, and enjoying yourself, recovering slowly from a bad hole...settling down, hitting a few solid shots...then BAM...you tackle a shank-a-saurus rex right in the middle of the fairway. Where does that come from?
Now, I don't mind playing poorly. I drink when I play poorly. Normally, I don't drink when I play golf, unless its a tournament...then all bets are off and I'm drinking some beer. Consistently poor play can be put up with....you just hunker down and adjust your play. No trick shots, nothing fancy, no pin looking, just middle of the green and club down swing smooth. I play badly all the time...I'm used to it.
Psychotic play...now that's a bastard wrapped up in a box with a crank on the side of it. Turn it, turn it, listen to the music...get comfy, play some golf and BAM, the Shank-In-The-Box just pops out of fricking nowhere. This drives me up the wall. Never knowing where the ball is gonna go. How do you build confidence in your golf game, when you really would like to take bets on the directional spin of your next shot just to make some cash. Par a hole, putt for birdie, put the demons behind you, move and four shots later, you nearly take the cart girl's head off and she's parked in the cart barn!
At the turn, I tell my son politely..."Hey buddy, we need to pick it up a little bit, Uncle Paul and I checked the time and it took us a long time to play that first nine holes (2.5 hours). So we need move a little quicker ok?"
"Dad, I mean, it's not just me that's making us play so slow...[pause]...I mean, you've been looking for your balls a lot."