Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Towel (2017-2022)

I got my booster on Thursday morning and headed straight for the golf course. I figured I'd feel like hell on Friday (I did), and I wanted to play before I the booster blasted me.

I told Eli almost two years ago that I'd replace my golf towel if I shot even par for nine holes. It's not a golf towel--it's a kitchen towel--but a towel is a towel, right? 

It's a dog's face, though it's hard to tell from the angle I used. 

I've been close. Really, really close. I can't even remember how many +1s I've shot for nine holes. I definitely choked a few times. 

More than a few times.

Anyway, I decided to try a new course, because I'm too deeply rutted right now. I saw my golf glove last week and parts were dark from sweat, but other parts looked almost new, and I realized my life was just like my glove. So I resolved to work hard to use the white parts of my glove, metaphorically. 

This course was no longer than my home course, but it was pleasantly different, with lots of water, trees, and sand. A bit more difficult, but in a crafted way. 

Plus, it was empty. I didn't see anyone else the entire round. It was the most pleasant round of golf I've had in a long time. 

I was +5 after nine, mostly because I was unfamiliar with the course, but I'd started hitting the ball very well, and my putting was so much better (thanks, VR). 

Then, on the back, I just started hitting every single ball flush. 

I had a five on a par-three because I had a fried egg lie in a bunker, but improbably I birdied the next two holes, and I was even par on the back after five holes. 

I was already tired, because there seemed to be a hundred-yard-plus walk between every green and the next tee box, and I was pushing my little hand cart with my clubs on it. I tried not to notice.

I had a six-footer for par on 15. Made it. A five-footer for par on 16. Made it. 

Hit a wedge to twelve feet on 17 and missed the putt. 

The mental focus was so demanding, so much more than I've used in sports for years. I wasn't missing anything, though. Everything was down the middle of the fairway and into the center of the green. My approach putts were all long, but every second putt was in the middle of the hole. 

On 18, I flushed another drive into the middle of the fairway and put the approach about thirty feet away. I was so mentally exhausted that I couldn't believe it, and that length putt was not what I wanted to have. 

I put it six feet past. 

Lining up the putt for par (and to par the nine), I had thoughts in my head. About my age and the loss of athletic competence. About Eli. About why I'd never been able to do this, and how many putts I'd missed on a green like this to finish +1 instead of even. 

Then I stepped up to the ball and stroked it into the center of the hole. 

All my disappointment about golf, about how good I might have been if things had been different, just melted away. It was such a happy moment, a little joy stolen from the unrelenting march of days. 

It wasn't a hard course, but that didn't matter. What mattered was I executed every shot and kept my nerve in situations where I'd lost it in the past. The monkey on my back was gone.

I was so tired I could barely make it to the car. 

I stopped and bought a new golf towel, of course. A nice one, too:

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