Because there were supposed to be thunderstorms over the next two days, Meg insisted I go to William Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park in Boston (not far from our house) and play a few holes last night (yes, she’s the most supportive spouse since Eleanor Roosevelt.) I was only able to play 5 holes before it got too dark to continue, but in that time I realized a few things about golf:
- Sometimes you just have to wing it. In my rush from work to home to golf course, I missed one small but vital detail: insoles for my golf shoes (I wear semi-custom orthotics for my wonky foot arches.) I didn’t realize this until I’d already paid for my round, so I did what any sensible person planning to walk a few miles with 30 pounds strapped to his back would do: I laced up my insole-less shoes and went with it. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as you’d think it would be.
- It’s okay to give yourself a break. After an errant tee shot on the first hole left me close to a tree — and a shot that someone of my meager, new guy-ability was not likely to achieve without harming folks walking down the street — I picked up my ball and tossed it towards the fairway. Yes, this violates all sorts of USGA Rules of Golf, but it helped me advance the ball towards the hole, and helped me figure out…
- It’s a lot more fun when you hit it in the fairway. After the first hole, I reached the fairway on holes two, three, and five, for a Fairways in Regulation score over the five holes played of 60% — a staggering figure that would put me up into PGA Tour levels if I could maintain it over 18 (or 72) holes every week for 6+ months. This made for much shorter approach shots, often with shorter clubs than I’d have to use if I missed the fairway. And shorter clubs = more accurate shots.
- How you feel is more important than what you think. After more than a year of golf lessons, a subscription to Golf Digest, and countless golf-related Facebook Pages/Twitter accounts/podcasts/etc., I have plenty of information to consider with every swing. I knew I wasn’t going to get a full 9 holes in, so in order to maximize time, I would pick a quick target, make a couple of practice swings to focus in how a good swing feels, and then line up and take my shot. And it worked really well, too, right up until the fourth hole, a short, 178-yard par 3. I sat on the tee box and overthought my shot, and promptly shanked it into the weeds. Luckily, I was able to regroup for the next hole, and made another Fairway in Regulation, not to mention a pretty awesome second on the wrong side of a tree, cutting off an entire section of fairway.
- Know when to quit. By the time I got to the sixth tee, it was dark — probably too dark to continue. “Just one last hole,” I thought, then teed up my ball and hit it with my hybrid. It was a high, arching slice, curling right, all the way to the next fairway and landing with an audible “thud” from nearly 200 yards away. Undeterred, I tee up another ball and swing, correcting for that previous shot. By “correcting”, of course, I mean I hooked it — hard — back onto (and over) the fifth fairway. Unable to see where either ball landed, I decided it was time to head home. Which was good for me, because I didn’t…
- Know where to park. Because the golf course is in the middle of Boston’s largest park, the parking lot closes at sundown. Much to my luck, a very nice park ranger was waiting for me when I got to my car, and instead of giving me a ticket, let me know that parking on the street close to the course would be a better option next time.
All great lessons to remember for my next round, and many rounds thereafter.