Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Golf is like Sex

Some days you can do everything right. You remember every trick and every technique. You know where to put your hands, your head, how to shift your weight. You use your imagination, you visualize yourself doing it, you anticipate completion and follow through. But even with every condition right and every action perfect, you just can’t get there.

And then, another day, with no preparation, no thinking and no trying, it just comes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Swim, Skate and Play Golf

William James once said that we learn to swim in the winter and skate in the summer. He was describing the learning that goes on unconsciously when we have approached a new idea or begun to learn a new skill. If we allow ourselves to deeply encounter something the work will continue inside of us even when we are not consciously engaged in its pursuit.

This is my hope for golf this winter. The first snow fell today, so golf is officially over . But in my head and my mind’s eye I am still going to learn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Glove

I felt returned to golf this weekend and it felt good. I haven’t played since September and wondered if my pleasure in this first season was real. Then Friday after a great Thanksgiving we drove to Siena College in Albany for the annual golf sale. I had been told last spring to watch for this special sale in which all the regional golf courses empty out their pro shops and offer every bit of equipment and attire for great bargain prices. And that was the case. I had hoped for shoes—still waiting to find my first pair so I can give up the sneakers. But even though I found some great looking women’s golf shoes from Foot Joy and Nike and others for less than $60 I did not see a pair that I loved. So I’m still waiting on shoes. I want to love them.

But I did make one purchase that pleased me: a glove. I bought a black glove for my left hand. It has a soft leather palm with a sheer mesh back. When I slid my hand into that glove it felt like Cinderella’s slipper must have felt. I loved it. My new glove is in my bag waiting for me and spring.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Hole in One

Today a first. I was playing golf with the boyfriend and he hit a hole-in-one. Up in the air and down the stick. Thunk. Just like that. A hole-in-one. A story to tell. I’m learning that golf too is about stories. The narrative of our day on the course, the anecdotes, what he said, and then what I said and what the man on the next hole said. It’s a story in 18 chapters. Play the holes; write the stories. And sometimes Thunk! A hole-in-one.

Watching Women's Golf

We went back again for another day of women’s golf. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed watching three women hole after hole. We followed Choi and Haregan and Noh for nine holes then had lunch at the turn and went back wards watching more groups until we caught Choi and company again and then stayed with them until the end.

I found myself creating stories for them, creating relationships and feelings and ideas about who they are. Was the caddy a Dad, brother, coach, mother? Were they happy, sad, angry? What were the personal stakes outside the money and LPGA card? I realized I do write fiction al the time and these three young women gave me characters to build on.

But for my own golf they gave me repeated pictures of perfect swings and perfect poise when their swing was not perfect. Who knew I would fall in love this year and who knew I’d fall in love with golf too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Futures Tour in Albany

I went to Capital Hills in Albany today to watch the Duramed Futures Tour. It was a blast watching great women golfers in person. Yes! to seeing feminine power and Yes! to their great posture and amazing shoulders and Yes! Yes! to an amazing array of shoes and skorts and shorts and women’s golf attire.

I’ve concluded that skirts are way sexier than shorts and sleeveless rocks every time. These women have fabulous arms and shoulders. Michele Obama would weep for the arms on these gals.

Bottom-line: I want to swing with the kind of power I saw today but I also want the taupe shoes (that long line of leg to shoe) and a slim golf skirt (not the A-line that makes you look like a lampshade).

Ok, so it’s not supposed to be about the clothes. Who are you kidding? Just ask Golf Girl (Golfgirl.blogspot.com) who makes golf look like a unique kind of outdoor sex.

For me, if it takes shoes and skirts to get me feeling groovy on the backswing, then bring it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Solo Golf Day

Yesterday was a first. I played nine holes alone at 7am and finished my nine in 65 minutes. My goal is to play nine in one hour. Going early in the morning makes this work. No waiting and –important for me—no one is watching.

I’m still so new that I don’t want to have watchers and commentators. I don’t want advice except from my teacher.

I played my nine as fast as I could. My self-made rules were 1. Keep moving 2. No picking up 3. Ball goes into the cup each time.

It worked. A beautiful summer morning, damp and dewy...love those splashes as the ball rolls or hops. My feet were soaked. Still have not bought proper shoes yet. (What color???) But I loved it. I was with golf and green and God and myself and made it to work by 9:30.

Not bad for a start to a summer day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Golf to Me

Today is my birthday and I am 56. I woke early and washed my face, brushed my teeth, added eye cream and sun block—and a touch of eye liner --and packed my clubs. We drove to a nearby executive course and played nine holes in and hour and 15 minutes. Today I had two pars! I’m still very very new to golf but I am learning how I learn and I can see the difference in this short time. Yesterday I looked at pictures of women swinging and that club is so far behind them on the backswing. I kept seeing that in my head when I swung and voila! My ball went up in the air and onto the green. What a Happy Golf Birthday this is.

Now, in truth, because I am also 56 and a very girly—womanly—girl. I am also dressing up tonight for a special birthday dinner and that will, I hope, be followed by other exciting semi-athletic adventures.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Heartbreak Lesson

Today golf teaches the lesson of heartbreak. Watching Cink beat Watson and hearing the commentator say, “He is so disappointed but he holds his head up and moves on.” That is what I am trying to learn too. How to survive heartbreak with dignity. How to be disappointed but take control of myself rather than wallow in blame. Hold my head up. Move on.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Front and Back

Today another golf lesson with Peter the Pro. We focused on pitching and putting. He began with showing me how to keep the weight on my left foot—he referred to this as my front foot—what? Finally I got it: front is closer to the hole and “back” is away from the hole. Ok. Right there may be the biggest part of the lesson: even really good teachers think you know what they are talking about. It’s true in any field or any specialty. Language becomes commonplace and others are left out because of language and jargon. But—my big lesson: Ask! “Wait”, I said, “I’m not clear on this front and back foot thing.” He stopped and explained. Done. Now anything I read about golf makes more sense, I can picture the front foot and the back foot. You already knew that? Great. Beginner’s Mind in Buddhism is going to serve me in golf.

There is a lesson for romance here too. Do I know what he means when he says “Spend time together”. Does he know what I mean when I say “romance”?
My lesson: Ask!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Golf is to Marriage

You have heard this before and you have felt it: Golf can be humiliating. It challenges you, it changes you. Just when you think you have figured it out it changes up on you. You learn techniques and you learn new tricks but ultimately you have to change. You do seemingly unnatural things and you work against your own personality. In this way golf changes you.

Marriage does too. Friends ask me why I am wiling to marry again. “Why not date?” “Why not just live together?” To answer them I can fall back on custom or culture but in reality I like marriage because, like golf, it changes me. There is an intensity to marriage that is unlike any other form of relationship. It is a crucible.

Then why not stay married no matter what? Well, some people do. That's how they learn. Some people love to play one golf course over and over measuring themselves and their changes against that venue. Others, like me, are willing to change courses and partners, but the measure at the end of the day is not the course or the partner, it is me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Word for Word

Golf is a game of lies; a game of errors, a game you play with yourself. It’s a game played between your two ears, played in your mind, played by inches.

Golf is like so many things it’s not like anything else.

Golf is the only game played with a ball that is not moving, or not moving until—and if—you hit it.

So many lessons in golf and around golf. Maybe this is also why my love of the game is growing even as I struggle to get time to play and practice. Golf turns out to be a game of language and ideas. And that is my kind of game.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Did Eliot Play Golf?

“To arrive where you are, to get there from where you are not, you must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.”

--T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”

What was he writing about? Love, medicine, grief, maturity, poetry? Or was it golf?

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy…you must go by a way of driving ranges, balls skidding along the ground, the best swing you ever felt but it goes no where near the ball. And yet, and yet. This is the way to get from where you are not to arriving at true golf.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Golf for Everyone but Me

Golf golf everywhere and not a hole to play.
I feel like the ancient mariner surrounded by something I love and want yet none for me. This weekend the US Open on TV and now, with a little learning, I can see what the great players are doing—or I think I can. I do recognize a lot more than I did a year ago. But I’m not playing!

Yesterday we had our annual golf tournament at work and I worked: set up registration, greeted guests, made hours of small talk, drove the refreshment cart, set up the auction and the raffles and gave the thank you talk at the dinner. I was surrounded by golfers, golf talk, golf equipment but none for me.

Can one learn golf through osmosis? Why do I think not. I did absorb a lot of passion from other golfers this week. But woe is me, I want to play!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Men may laugh but this is a serious issue for women golfers. Which shoes? How many pairs? I have not bought my golf shoes yet because of this. Do I buy classic saddles in brown and white? That’s great when I’m wearing khaki shorts or the all white outfit. But what happens when I want to wear black. Black in my golf wardrobe makes sense as black is the center of my regular wardrobe. So black shoes too? Or instead?

But think about that touristy big-sneaker look. So unfashionable. So “ugly American” in Paris. And the issue of a longer line and a leaner, lithe leg. You don’t get that from big black shoes or even saddle shoes—so do I go with a nude or saddle toned shoe to get the maximum length to my legs? I need that in shorts or a small skirt. I’m petite and I am always working the vertical lines and longer look. How to do that in golf shoes?

Any suggestions? How many pair of golf shoes do you own?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's All in Your Mind

Yesterday it hit me that there are yet more ways that golf and making love can teach each other—and teach me. Some days—and nights—you can do everything right, you can use everything you know, have the body doing all the things you know should work and have visualized all that you know you need and it just doesn’t come out right. And then other days –out of the blue—maybe when you feel like you are off your game—but you’ll go for it anyway—and surprise! There it is! It happens!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Listen to Learn

I’m looking at this question: What kind of learner are you? Visual. Auditory. Technical. Feel? How does this apply to my golf training and to my practice? In much of my life I am auditory: listen, hear, use CD's, talking, tape recorders in my car. Can I apply this preference to my game of golf? What is it I can listen for?

My teacher has given me a homework exercise. Using a dowel rod or old broom stick on the ground. Place the club in the center…scrape along the stick on my back swing and then swing through scraping along the stick. The feedback—the sound—tells me if I have stayed down and if I am in line on my swing through. It’s auditory reinforcement. Quite a trick. Quite a good teacher.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Golf Lesson

Another golf lesson with Peter. The sport is opening up to me and I’m struck by the value of taking private lessons and by the skill of this teacher. Like before I find myself very comfortable with him, and again the words that come to mind are, “there is no boy-girl in his demeanor.” He’s an attractive guy—and as a golf pro he’s very fit and very physical—but the guy-ness stays very contained—and that allows or encourages my girl-ness to stay contained as well. This is a new and really nice experience. We are two physically fit, body conscious people doing something very physical and talking about body and movement but it is contained. I credit him with this gift as a teacher.

Today the focus was on hands... “Lots of hands” is the new mantra. We talked about big swing and where are my hands on the back swing and where are they on the follow thru—stop still at the end –like playing statue as a kid—and “where are your hands now?”

Another paradox perhaps? Swing for the moon—more awareness but less control.

That’s a lot like sex isn’t it?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tiger's Control

Maybe this was a mistake, but I got Tiger’s book from the library. “How I Play Golf”. Probably too soon to really grasp what he’s saying. But the man is beautiful to watch. Is the fact of his handsome face a factor? Probably yes. He’s an amazing man, but I have no fantasy of having Tiger in my life. No thank you. There is, in his demeanor, just that hint of absolute control. I have an idea that all of his shirts are folded exactly the same way and stacked precisely on shelves designed just for golf shirts with their rounded edges lined up making perfect stacks. And those stacks are color coordinated and in low piles of descending colors light through darker shades.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rainy Day Reading

Rain and rain and too much work. The only golf is on my coffee table where I now have too many books about golf. Friends say, stop reading about golf it won’t help. But for me it does. I think it works the way that reading self-help does when I am struggling with a relationship or with a part of me that I need to change. The books and concepts can’t fix me—that relay is an inside job—but reading builds me a cognitive life raft—the words and ideas and theory build me a frame that I can hang onto when I go down the rapids of personal change or my new white water of learning to play golf. Mind and Body. I need them both

Friday, June 5, 2009

18 Holes

Today I played 18 holes with The Boyfriend. We used a riding cart since this would be the longest golfing so far for me—and because we both had to get back to work afterwards. I was pleased at my endurance if not at my aim. One of the benefits for me in golf is that my mind shuts down. At least the part that worries about work and calendars and the ever running and endless list of Things To Do. It is, of course, replaced by, “weight on my right foot” and “head down but don’t drop your shoulder” and “swing like spaghetti”. Those are at least thoughts that keep me in the present moment. When I am playing golf I don’t regret the past and I don’t worry about the future. Now there is a gift.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Golf Lesson

Yesterday I had a golf lesson with the course pro. A nice guy who hit that perfect middle between “guy’s guy” and “ladies man”. We broke down my swing into slow motion. I formed internal images of what I want and he gave me several swing exercises to practice. The exercises give me feedback. I can hear and feel if I am doing it right. My body will learn and my head will follow.

This makes me wish for the same help in relationship skills. Bring the body and the mind will follow. Change your behavior and your thinking will align. Breakdown the new skill into baby steps and master each tiny change. Then practice at home. One day I will simply swing and hit the ball high and far. Someday I will easily and naturally say, “No”, “Yes” or “This is what will work best for me.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Golf Lessons Begin

Golf Lesson
It’s the little things. Shifting my weight to my right foot. Not dropping my left shoulder. Leading with my hands. Trusting that I will hit the ball. Going for it. Staying focused. Laughing.

Sex Lesson
It’s the little things. Shifting my attention. Not worrying what he thinks. Loving my body. Loving his body. Trusting that it will happen. Going for it. Staying focused. Laughing.