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This may sound a bit awkward at first but hear me out – I would like to play golf with more strangers. Strangers you ask? Yes. Exactly. I would like to get more comfortable with playing a round of golf with strangers and by virtue helping myself and the stranger become more comfortable playing with someone we do not know in the future. Confusing, right? This little philosophy is something that I believe many already embrace but lets turn it up a notch and start getting more people on this level of thinking. Golf is such a wonderful sport that brings so many different kinds of people together and too many times have I seen someone get upset over being paired with people they don’t know for varying reasons. I’ve certainly experienced this before where someone is clearly not overjoyed about being paired with me and whoever I am with. Think about it. Is this scenario familiar to you and which side of it have you been on?
Well. Turns out that after some serious reflection on all this, there have been very few occasions that a stranger has “ruined” a round of golf for me or made the experience a little bit less enjoyable or uncomfortable. I feel pretty fortunate about that because I’ve heard some pretty bad stories. Alas, let’s not give those negative experiences any more space in this little blog of mine and turn the focus over to an awesome experience. This topic all came about because of a recent round of golf that I played with someone I did not know – a stranger by definition. This experience was a combination of all the great things you think about when it comes to playing a great round of golf. She was very friendly and encouraging. We had good conversation. She was passionate about the game and played with confidence. No one felt rushed. The weather was nice. The course was in great shape. I could go on and on but you get where I am going here. It doesn’t take a whole lot to create these types of experiences for those that are around you on the golf course and for those complete strangers that you get paired with.
Let’s all be more welcoming while we are playing the sport that we all love!
Picture this (in my best Sofia Petrillo voice, #goldengirls) you arrive at the tee and slow play has things backed up a bit so you are waiting to tee off. Before you know it, the group behind you is walking off the green and headed your way. The way I respond/react to this is situation is text book every time… cue the nervous tee shot followed by a series of rushed approaches because I do not want to cause further delay. Raise your hand if you are familiar with this kind of scenario because it speaks to you or because you have a friend that reacts like this. Yup, thought so. Here we are with a decently strung together round of golf and now you’ve gone and fudged it up a bit by rushing for no reason at all.
This happened to me recently at a course in Rhode Island (disclaimer: I reside in the Ocean State) thus the reason for this topic being fresh in my mind. It was a beautiful twilight round and we were all smiling having a good time so I didn’t mind that the group in front of us took their time with little care in the world going coast to coast, I wasn’t in a rush at that moment. Fast forward another two minutes and my smile turns into a high alert feeling after hearing the group behind us approach and talk about how it was going to be impossible to finish the nine holes they had paid for at this speed. Well then, sign me up for a triple folks because that is where my game went after hearing that comment. I’ll spare you the details of how I played the hole but I will share with you that even though I am working to get over these momentary blips of nerves in certain scenarios around the course, my partner and friends always do a tremendous job of bringing me back up.
Moral of the story, golf is fun and even better with people that are fun and don’t get nervous when things get backed up on the tee.
Things I’ve learned so far in the COVID-19 era: I enjoy grapefruit flavor, my dogs are getting annoyed by my presence, I could probably use a bigger cutting board, I wish for paper plates on a daily basis, and driving in the car has turned into such a treat. The one thing I did not realize I would miss as much as I do is golf. Where I currently sit, I have already planned out about a week’s worth of golf outfits, and I am more than ready for this sweatpants party to end. (Make no mistake, I love sweatpants and I know you do too, but it’s time to move on.)
I have been getting advice from some of the best golf instructors out there on social media and I have avoided the temptation of embarrassing myself with recording any sort of trick shots in the house. To sum it up, my browsing history says that I am overly enthusiastic about the return to some form of the game this month. The one thing that I am not prepared for is potentially playing alone for the first time.
You read that right, I have yet to play a round of golf by myself. Sure, I’ve had those rounds where I am spraying the ball all over the course and I may as well have been playing by myself with how infrequently I was with my playing partners. But a single 18-hole round of golf on my own is something that I have not experienced. Walking no less. Let me also mention that I am not a weekly golfer, nor am I a bi-weekly golfer. I golf when I can and I enjoy the game very much.
I consider myself to be a very social person and I do like to play golf with other people around, so this concept does feel a bit uncomfortable for me. Some of you may be able to relate to the fact that because I’ve played team sports for the majority of my life and because I’m around people frequently for my job, that doing this activity alone for 4 hours is something that I just have not put much consideration towards. If you asked me last season I would have said a solo round does not interest me as much. If you are asking me right now, I would say, “Tell me the earliest tee time and I’m there.”
I have been told that this will be a life-altering experience. That my first 18-hole solo walk will set me on the path towards enlightenment and complete nirvana. I am learning that golf is that powerful. So what does one do in between shots? Think about the next shot? Listen to music? Talk to yourself? Or maybe you don’t need to over-analyze it and just enjoy the physical and mental exercise of the walk itself. Whatever the experience turns out to be, I’m game for giving it a try.
And so, here we are, on a mini adventure to get comfortable with being uncomfortable this season. Who is ready to take a socially distant walk with me? After my solo round, of course.