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Teed Off!

Posted Jun 26 2008 4:05am

Everyone needs hobbies, including me. Just before I was diagnosed with M.S., I started taking ballroom dance lessons – the Rumba and Cha-Cha are my favorites. I got to the level of needing a partner and since I didn’t have one I gave up formal lessons and instead just dance around the kitchen these days. 

I used to kick-box, but now the high intensity of the workouts, combined with my dizziness, don’t allow for me to enjoy this outlet for exercise and stress reduction. I’ve taken huge steps towards integrating other forms of exercise back into my life these last two weeks though, primarily through walking, stretching, and using low impact home gym equipment.

This week I ventured into another athletic arena – that of golf greens. I only hit the greens once before (except for the occasional ‘beer wench’ duties within a golf cart at a tournament). I was in college and one of my roommates wanted to take me golfing. I emailed him earlier this week to help me recollect why, exactly, he kicked me off the course at hole number two. “Was it because I was terrible at it or because I was impatient?”I asked. He, the kind soul that he is (and because he’s a politician by trade) tried to blame it on having a ‘bad teacher’. He then added “May the Lord bless him” when I indicated that the hubby was going to try to teach me to play the sport. So much for the problem being with the teacher!

I’m actually semi-athletic. I just don’t truly “enjoy” exercise. I love playing volleyball (probably because I’m decent at it). I love watching football and I’m highly engaged with the sport (some say more than your average football lover). I’m a decent bowler, when I don’t get bored or distracted and actually pay attention to detail and form. Bocce is fun. But golf??? It’s so quiet. So serene. Requires patience and solitude. So NOT Sunshine!

But the hubby asked if I’d consider learning, so I acquiesced. We have friends, other couples, who golf together. He tantalized me with the thought of hanging out on the women’s tee with the other girls; socializing in groups of other skilled golfers. He pointed out the therapeutic benefits of walking the greens and adding another form of gentle exercise to my regimen– both of potential great benefit to a person with M.S. He even talked about the future, after his days of being able to play softball end – having an alternative in sight, something we can do together instead of just having me cheer from the stands. I knew there was a conspiracy brewing as some of our other friends started to drop hints:“I hear you’re going to learn to golf, cool!”or“Can’t wait to get out on the course with you.” I offered to have the job of driving the beer cart. No good. They want me to actually play.

I got the hubby to promise not to run to the Mall to outfit me with clubs, clothes, and shoes until I at least determine if I really want to learn the sport. He agreed that he won’t force me to spend my weekends watching color commentators whisper the on-goings of a television golf tournament (big snooze there!). He promised to be patient as long as I am willing to listen and learn and I try not to become frustrated.

We began Tuesday evening at the driving range. On the way to the course, I reflected on days gone by, playingPutt-Puttwith the kids. How was I – the person who by the time she reached the little windmill with the hole in the center on hole four – going to keep myself entertained, patient, and engaged for 9, or worse, 18 holes of golf? I then remembered the last time we played mini-golf, though, when I made two holes-in one. Oh the jubilation! I decided to focus on the euphoria that may be found on a real golf course.

Once we arrived at the driving range and I experienced the really cool golf ball machine that spits out balls (the highlight of my evening), we got set up on the range. My patient teacher and his impatient,“look there’s a chicken!,”easily distracted student, side by side, trying to learn which end of the club points up. (It IS called a ‘club’ isn’t it)? “Address the ball, Sunshine.” “Hello, ball!” “Keep your head down. You’re peeking.” “Ah, ah, ah, you’re swinging with your arms and not your shoulders.” “Spread your feet, turn your feet, bend your knees, interlock your fingers, don’t interlock your fingers.” This is very intricate stuff folks. I thought I would just pick up a club with a number on it and swing at a golf ball just like a softball swing. Wrongo!

I had promised to listen and to learn. And I did. I still stink – badly. But I got off a few decent shots – long and straight. Then I got tired. I quickly learned what a divot is. I missed the ball entirely (many times). I started scolding myself about “peeking” as I felt myself looking off into the distance for a ball that was still firmly set on the ground or on a tee. It was a start though. I plan to continue to learn.

I just won’t be hitting anything other than a driving range for many, many more weeks to come. Instead, I asked to be taken up on that beer cart duty while the hubby continues to golf with others. What better place to watch, observe, and learn from others???

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