After the New Year’s Eve kisses have stopped, many of us will be left chanting “New Year, new me (or you)!” We’ll have declarative resolutions ranging from weight loss to nixing poor habits. While I’m not one who’s into making them every calendar year, I am a valiant believer in tackling goals; I hope you’ve noticed that by now.
For much of last year, I had the intention of learning a sport I only knew about from pop culture references, Celebration Station and fundraisers. That sport, if you haven’t guessed it already, is golf. Golf has its roots in Europe, presumably dating back to the 13th Century. For me, golf has its roots dating back to this winter. I didn’t know much, but I knew I had to get a golf pro.
It wasn’t difficult to find an experienced golfer in my Contact list because just like learning how to ride a bike (I didn’t learn until I was 25), everyone I know had seemingly been swinging clubs since they were in preschool. I went to the M’s and called Micah Major, a kid who’s like my nephew. He’s smart, cooler than I am, and also happens to be the captain of the men’s golf team at Louisiana College.
(Quick special shout out to Sean Gasser, our photographer, for letting me use his clubs. You apparently need those to play golf.)
We skipped a driving range and met at the City Park Golf Course. It’s Baton Rouge’s oldest golf course, and a great spot for late bloomers like me to learn. I must admit that prior to our session, I was a bit nervous, having spent the morning scrolling Pinterest for golf etiquette and clothing musts. Also, I took it to the Google for “basic golf terminology” so I didn’t seem like a complete newb.
My research marginally paid off because what I learned on the course could not easily be picked up from a search browser. Any amount of pride I had was quickly dashed after I took my first few swings in the dirt. When I finally did connect the club to the ball, it skipped more than it flew. Thankfully, Micah has the patience of Job and the wisdom of someone thrice his age. He walked me through the differences among irons, woods and putters. He let me know that a bogey is not a bar (I understand it’s a different spelling) and that a golf stance is quite uncomfortable. I’m six feet tall and have more to love in the back. It’s already difficult to do the squats my trainer wants me to, but to carefully twist my hips and slightly bend without overextending the way Coach Major wanted, proved to be initially challenging and uncomfortable.
From the first hole to the fourth, I gradually improved, but the true test would come on the fifth. Here’s the scene—there was a pond separating me from the green. Ducks quietly waddled across the street behind me and hardly any cars were passing. The sun was behind me and the manicured grass was ahead of me.
Though Micah and Sean were there, in that moment it was seemingly just me, equipped with my newly learned skills, the 4 iron between my v-shaped grasp and the dimpled ball. In what seemed like slow motion, I twisted, connected and sent the ball over the water, a few feet away from the hole. As soon as it landed, we jumped and cheered as if I had won a green jacket, climbed in the cart and sped to the ball as if it were going to roll away. I finished that hole and the next with a double bogey.
We didn’t keep proper score during our match because that would have been too overwhelming and disappointing, but the numbers I did keep are as follows: 3 – the hours it took us to play; 2 – golf balls lost in murky water; 1 – tee disappearance. Here’s what I can’t quantify, but is equally important—I was able to be vulnerable and begin the process of learning something new in public. Additionally, it was a special honor to have Micah be my Bagger Vance, and for him to let me know I was not as terrible as we all feared.
As a 30-year-old businessperson, it’s pretty rare to not know how to golf. Traditionally, it’s where connections and deals are made, right? I channeled my nerves to tap into my inner Tiger Woods (only the athlete part) and Happy Gilmore to finish those nine holes, all while hoping the Looney Tunes were waiting to grab me down one of those holes. Whatever your resolution or goal is, go after it at all costs because you just might hit your hole-in-one.
Images: Sean Gasser