Golf is more than a four-letter word

in Cherimie Crane/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane
Climbing Mt. Fuji wasn’t really that hard; sky diving in Wyoming wasn’t really all that scary; bungee jumping in Tennessee was more stupid than exhilarating; Zorbing down a mountain in New Zealand was slightly akin to the morning after a night out with my best friend; and eating food that I couldn’t pronounce in Peru, well that was just darn right asking for trouble.
My youth (yes I said youth, you can define it your way, I will define it mine) is full of memories, adventures, and moments of great anxiety mixed with highlights of humiliation. My inability to back down from a dare, a challenge or anything in the genre of idiocy has certainly led me down the road that is less traveled for a reason.  Facing something I know nothing about, have no business being involved in, or really no natural skill and/or ability to participate is somewhat unpleasant.  The phrases “I can’t” or “No, I shouldn’t” don’t roll off my tongue quite as fast as “Heck, yeah” or “Let me try.”
If I had the inner strength to admit ignorance, defeat, fear, and those other odd emotions, I do believe I would have less visits to the emergency room and possibly less need for serious therapy. Some consider me adventurous; those who know me consider me lucky to still have all my limbs. Bull riding (both mechanical and breathing), hang-gliding, and scuba diving do not cause the slightest twinge of doubt in my can-do determination. However, golf scares the @%#^ out of me. (I mean that in the most non obnoxious and mannerly way, Momma.)
My fiancé was born for golf. He has the gentle way, the respectful attitude, the focus, the talent, and the right shoes.  I have the attention span of a hungry hummingbird, the focus of a ferret, and just don’t see the point in closed toe anything. And of course, my golf voice is more suited for a football stadium and a mega phone.  Opposites attract, they say. I think it is more that opposites fascinate and confuse, but no one asked me.
Because my fiancé is the gentleman and kind person that he truly is, the members of Fripp Island so generously organized a tournament in honor of our wedding. The amount of time, effort, and sweet thoughtfulness that went into every detail was both humbling and overwhelming. Couples who have been married for more than 40, even 50 years shared their time and experiences. It was a day I will never forget, for a few reasons.
One of those reasons was my new found respect for the game. Golf is basically 18 holes of life lessons. I say this with confidence as I learned all 18 of them in one day. That little ball can be quite the slippery little sucker.  Its natural desire is to do exactly that which you do not want it to do. The grace, poise and stamina you see on televised golf tournaments is hogwash. I am certain they edit out the good stuff.  The first lesson I learned was flip flops may hinder one’s ability to both accelerate a golf cart and maintain the appropriate golf stance. Noted.
As I watched in amazement at both men and women who actually hit the ball and knew where it went, I realized that maybe I have found my foe.  This may actually take a little time to perfect, more than 18 holes no doubt. Asking the question “How hard can it be?” is silver-platter-serving your soul to the Devil of the Driver (the driver is the big club that is supposed to persuade the ball to go far preferably in the right direction). Realizing my limitations, something both rare and uncomfortable for me, I decided maybe my talents were more in the putting arena. Life lesson number two: putting isn’t easy.
Being faced with something I couldn’t easily master, or easily muster, caused great discomfort and wrinkles in between my eyes. Neither is desired.  Apparently this golf requires a stillness, a concentration and understanding that I can’t sashay my way around.  It is quite the phenomenon. Three feet from this hole in the ground and that darn ball mocked me in ways that burned deep into my soul. Now in any other instant in life, I could get anything I wanted to go three feet, this was not the case. I have doubted the inner strength this game requires and unleashed my outer sailor. Golf was NOT the only four letter word going through my head. Sorry, Momma.
The more appropriately dressed golfers were graceful, patient, quiet, and respectful of this game that taunted me. They obviously know much that I do not. My fiancé is in his element. He patiently persuades that hard headed ball to go great distances, avoid hazards, and gently directs it to its quiet little home in the hole.  No matter how frustrated, he pushes forward with respect and dignity even when going against the wind.
Like a cannonball to the head, I realized how he is able to calm me when gale force winds are no match for my mood. He knows my natural desire is to do exactly that which he does not want me to do. He understands there is more than one approach necessary when handling a woman of the difficulty type. His ability to persuade me away from hazards is simply uncanny. Even willing to walk through the rough to find me, when I don’t agree with his desired direction, he won’t give up. He will always get me home, one way or the other.
Thank you Fripp Island golfers for showing me that golf is far more than a four-letter word, far more than chasing a slippery little white ball, far more than a hobby one can swoop in and master, far more than a game. You have taught me that in life some things require more than will and determination. You taught me that keeping my eye on the ball and knowing my goal doesn’t always mean it will go as planned. It is a day I will never forget, and for the rest of my life when someone yells fore, I know to duck!