On Golf

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When I turned sixteen years old my parents presented me with golf lessons as a birthday gift. I don’t recall showing any interest in golf, although there is a photo of my when I was maybe a year and a half, holding a plastic golf club and wearing those horrendous pants.

The lessons took place early on Saturday mornings at the driving range at what is now called the Woodley Lakes golf course, just across Victory Boulevard from Van Nuys airport. I can’t recall how many Saturdays the lessons lasted–six, I think. Each day I would show up and a golf pro would set me to hitting a bucket of golf balls, showing me how to properly grip the club, bend my knees, tuck in my elbow, keep my hips still and my head down.

In the 34 years that have elapsed since those lessons, I can count on one hand the number of times I played golf. Two of those times are particularly memorable.

The first was in the summer of 1999 and took place at the Twin Lakes Village golf course in New London, New Hampshire. I played 18 holes with my cousins in what was the most fun I’ve ever had playing golf. It was pouring rain. I mean buckets. We wore rain slickers. The course was closed, but my cousin scribbled out a check for the cost of three of us to play, and slid it under the locked door of the clubhouse. We had the course to ourselves. There was no need to rush. There was also no need to keep score. By the second hole the scorecard had all but disintegrated. We laughed and hollared and I had a blast.

The other memorable round came in late October 2005, just after my sister’s wedding. I played a round with my parents and my brother at the Camarillo Springs course in Camarillo, California. It was a memorable round because on the 8th hole, my Dad, a lifelong golfer, quit the game in a rather dramatic fashion. He walked off the course swearing he’d never play again. To show he was serious, he gave his clubs, bag and all, to my brother on the spot. My Mom, brother and I finished the round.

Gold is one of those games that I want to like. I love the idea of playing the course. But it is more complicated than it looks, and the culture baffles me. Plus, it seems expensive and time-consuming–which may be features if you really love it. I enjoy reading about golf now and then, but I am happy to leave it at that. Even so, if I do ever play, those lessons from 34 years ago will come in handy.

Years after those lessons, the Woodley Lakes golf course became a notable feature when I was learning to fly. Taking off south out of Van Nuys, my instructor would point out the course as one possible place to land in the event of an engine failure.

And my Dad eventually resumed playing golf, too. Today, he and my Mom live on a golf course.

Written on July 15, 2022.

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