The Danger Zone: Contemplating a Return to the Game
In golf, a whiz kid I was not. My dad didn’t play, my schools didn’t have golf teams and I didn’t know Arnie’s Army from McHale’s Navy (look it up). I went to a college that didn’t believe in competitive sports (UC Santa Cruz) and even though I passed Pebble Beach on my way to the hot springs at Esalen (Big Sur), I had no interest in stopping by for a round of anything other than margaritas.
Golf didn’t really interest me until I was in my 30s, new to Honolulu and with an assignment to write a guidebook to every course in the state. Someone was willing to pay me to play golf in Hawaii? Shoots, brah!
I played for the next 30 years. Then, around four years ago, I stopped. The itch was scratched. I can pinpoint the exact moment: I had pushed yet another 9-iron into a bunker on the 18th hole of Kona CC, achieved a weak splash out and three-putted for double bogey.
I wasn’t upset, I just didn’t care. Turn out the lights, the party’s over. A farewell to arms.
Life goes on, y’all.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the funny farm. I recently started thinking about my favorite wedge, an old TaylorMade RAC black 56-degree from the 1990s. I kinda missed the way it felt to click that baby against the back of a golf ball and watch as the ball zipped confidently onto the green. I had fond memories of my forged Miura putter, a 1957 replica model, with its tiny head kissing a Titleist toward Babylon.
I was in the danger zone. Fond memories of golf? That almost-forgotten urge to head to the course for a round?
Sure enough, my clubs were waiting patiently in the garage closet when I opened the door. Was that a wistful smile I detected on my wedge face? Was that a heartfelt apology I thought I heard whispered from my putter?
By now I’ve cleaned the mold off my grips and cleared my bag of old energy bar wrappers (thankfully no rotten banana peels). I’m headed to the range soon to see what I have left of a game, remembering those 90-year old guys I used to play with at Penmar GC, who would hit the ball 100 yards at a time, score no worse than bogey, and usually whip my smart butt easily.
I’m not 90 yet, but can I muster one of those bunt-and-run games? Can I avoid whiffing? Can a par-free round be fun?
I think I’m about to find out.