Over the holidays, I tried something new. Hub and I joined my precious nephew, niece and her hub to learn the game of golf. Hub has played golf his entire life, so he either went to get a good laugh at us, or to blow the dust off of his clubs. He got both of those things accomplished. My previous experience in golf had been riding in the cart watching him play, and watching the Masters on TV. Not exactly an expert. I'd always wanted to learn to play. I'd also realized that if I desired much face time him in our golden years, I'd best learn the game. This old dog was going to have to learn some new tricks.
My bro-in-law, Mike, is a golf pro. (pretty convenient, right?) He hosted an Operation 36 event at Lagoon Park where we played 9 holes of short distances. It's a program that helps new golfers learn the game in manageable chunks, then progress to longer distances as they master each level in 36 stokes or less. Now, let me begin by saying the word, "beginner", isn't weak enough to describe my skill level. I fall more into the "just plain clueless" category. This was exactly what I needed, but I'm glad I didn't understand there was a goal to accomplish. Mike had simply invited us to come and learn, and kept it light on the details. Smart man. I would've put way too much pressure on myself and not had as much fun.
I borrowed a putter and a chipper (is that what it's called? sorry Mike) and walked onto the practice putting area with as much confidence as I could muster. Mike taught me how to properly hold a putter, since the way I'd been holding it playing "Putt-Putt" growing up was surprisingly not the proper way. Thank the good Lord Mike is one of the kindest, most patient men I've ever met, because 3 out of 4 of us had no idea what we were doing. He gave us a few more few tips on putting and chipping, and then we pressed on to begin our game. I wasn't great at it. In fact, I took the maximum shots allowed on the beginning 3 or 4 holes. I over-putted. I under-putted. I completely stunk at the chipping thing. I laughed at myself and fussed at myself in the same breath, but I didn't give up and heave the borrowed clubs into the pond. I considered that a win.
I improved as the day progressed. I think I even made par on one of the last two holes. Most importantly, I had a blast with Hub, William, Sara Bibi, and her sweet Will. We came inside to free popcorn (another win) and a video on Operation 36. That is when I found out that there were goals and levels to this little learning adventure. If being outside in God's beautiful world playing a fun game with my family had not already hooked me, then this certainly sealed the deal. It was the icing on the cake. I'm a sucker for a challenge, so GAME ON Operation 36! Hub saw the twinkle in my eye and knew he'd just gotten a new golf partner. I don't think he's ever been more happy with me than at that moment.
Hub and my nephew William easily met the requirements to move on to the next level, and Sara Bibi did so well on her first try that she did too! (beginners luck? 'pro' genetics? Time will tell.) Her Will and I did not, but made much improvement as we went along. We did win the "positive encouragement for our spouses award", so there's that. To be completely honest, that wasn't an actual category of the program, I just made it up. However I do think it's equally as important. Ok, maybe it's my attempt to soften the blow that Will and I missed the mark our first time out. We'll get there, just wait and see.
Has the golf bug bitten you? Go see Mike at Lagoon Park for lessons! If he can teach me and not pull his hair out, he can teach you. Let me know at bethroperstewart.com and I'll hook you up with his digits. That's slang for give you his contact info, but I'm trying to sound hip and cool. Ha! Now, go play!