Life Lessons Learned at the Driving Range

The master watching over one of his students. 

The master watching over one of his students. 

My father is semi-retired, and I suspect, looking for ways to fill his newly acquired free time. My husband and I, and our meager golf skills may have become his first retirement project.

The three of us met at the local municipal golf course for a lesson. My father very generously gathered two sets of golf clubs for each of us to keep. My set of clubs has been given to me and returned to my parents once, maybe twice before. The clubs are an old set of my late grandmother’s and when the urge strikes to hit a few golf balls once every five years, my father ceremoniously re-offers the set to me. My father gifted Kevin with a diverse set of golf clubs that include a putter allegedly made in the 1930s. As my dad was so happy to declare, “It’s an antique!”

Today’s lesson focused on gripping the club and the basics of the first half of your golf swing. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, not for me.

I have recently identified what I call my conquistador personality. This basically means I don’t think learning curves apply to me and I should be able to conquer, subjugate, and reign supreme over every new activity I encounter. Obviously, life doesn’t work this way, so I also understand that this personality trait is a nasty contributor to the stress and anxiety that can be quite persistent in my life. I am trying, quite actively, to be more of an explorer than a conqueror and to ease myself into new experiences by opening myself to learning. Our golf lesson provided a perfect opportunity to test out this new explorer way of life.

Kevin and I had been practicing our half swing without actually hitting a golf ball for 15 minutes or so when my dad declared us ready to half swing in the real world. I conducted a little body inventory with the ball in front of me and realized that my palms were sweating, my hands were clasped in a death grip on the club, and my body had coiled into one intense knot of muscle. I had become a 5’3 cobra golfer ready to strike a mongoose golf ball.

So I dialed in. I took a series of deep breaths and thought to myself, “Let that shit go, homie.” I unclenched all of my muscles, loosened my grip, and eased into my first swing at a golf ball. My 7 iron took flight on the back swing, sailing 20 feet behind me. When it landed, it narrowly missed a pond. The club flew far enough that Kevin, my father and I had enough time to turn around and watch it careen towards the golf course and the murky water feature.

Lesson learned: “Let that shit go, homie” is not to be taken literally. But I still came away an explorer, which is a major success. When the greatest accomplishment I made at the driving range was keeping my club in my hand, it's pretty hard to appoint myself Master and Commander of Golf. And honestly? That's pretty liberating. I don't need to be great, I'm learning!