Looking at only the first half of my life, you would not expect me to be completely opposite for the second half of my life. Up until 14, I was playing sports, from baseball, basketball, football, street hockey, and some "Kill the Man" or some other "whole street" game that we came up with growing up on my street with kids in almost every house. I was active. I played video games back then too, so they're not really the cause for my reversal in activeness. Here is the cause: I am too competitive for team games.
Those little kid leagues where the coach will play every kid for the same amount of time were the only leagues I was in. There was no competition, it was only fun. However, having a huge competitive yearning, these weren't enough for me. I can't just go out and make myself better unless I'm competing. I love competing, and I love winning. Practicing is boring, but scrimmaging was awesome. My big sport growing up was soccer. I loved that, because our practices were scrimmages, mainly. We'd have some standard drills but they would just lead up to a 6 on 6 or something. During one year of soccer, I scored a few goals, and I scored in the All-Star game... as a HALF-BACK (or Mid-Fielder). It's usually the "strikers" that score.
So, practicing is not fun because there's no competition. I guess you have to make a little game out of it in order to make it fun, but I wasn't that creative. So, when I got to high school, I decided to give up on those sports because I wasn't interested in making myself better, and I didn't play anyways. Luckily, in 6th grade, I was introduced to a little game where the competition is built in, with no one else out there. Golf.
My love affair with golf really started, though, in 8th grade, when I had a paper route. Our local course, Kara Kung in Philadelphia, was $8 for a junior (under 17) to walk. So every time I went out collecting for the paper, I'd come back and stash $8 lumps in a sock in my drawer. Then I'd count it up and say "I can go golfing 12 times!!" On top of that, I'd watch golf all the time, my Dad subscribed me to Golf Illustrated, and I read tons of books. But I never practiced.
"You never practiced golf?!?! You must suck!" I do. But I love it. You can go out on a golf course and compete all by yourself. Because you're competing with yourself, and you're competing with the course. You can think back, "Last time I played this hole, I got a 6..." So your realistic immediate goal is a 5, but really you'd want a 1 :P It's just an incredible game.
But it's one of those games where you find that you haven't played in almost 3 months, or a year, sometimes when you think back. Time flies between rounds of golf.
Anyway, Zatko and I decide to go golfing on Saturday. I hadn't played since last summer, probably 7 months. I'm a bit rusty. And the first thing to go when you have a long lapse like that between rounds is your short game. You no longer have any idea how a ball off of a quarter swing pitching wedge placed in front of your back foot will react. Or how firm you have to hit it, or any putt that you come across. It's like you're retarded. However, the long game, I almost never lose. That's more like riding a bike than riding a bike to me. My first two shots were a drive into the fairway, and then a 7 iron onto the green. I three putted.
This is my best shot of the day. This dog-leg right... pretty steep right turn with trees hugging the whole fairway, and a driver will surely find its way into the back trees, and the trees on the right are high enough that it's a pretty bad call to try to get over them with a middle to long iron. I hit 4 iron and it hugs the right side. It's looking like path... indeed, it does that exaggeratedly high bounce off the cart path and gives me a few extra yards. I find my ball out there, but now it's a tough shot. It's about a foot off the right of the path, meaning I'll be standing on the cart path hitting this shot. I got about 115 yards to go, but yet another dilemma. The pin is directly over the middle of this huge bunker (sand trap for non golfers), situated right in front of the green. I'm like, "Well, better to try and fail then to lay up and not even guarantee a safe shot then..." So I take out my club, take my few very boring practice swings, and let it rip. The arch is beautiful. It's heading right at it. The lack of grip on my shoes made me slip a bit on the cart path, so I end up facing the fairway, where Zatko is standing. I didn't take my eye off the ball though. It starts its descension. It looks like God hit this ball, it's still dead on. I say to myself "Get over, you f@#%@er." I see it hit the ground... The impact of the landing made sand splash up. I'm like "F@#%@". But then I see it bounce. It hit the very top of the sand trap, the lip, where the happened to be sand, but it wasn't part of the sand trap! I look over at Zatko... he saw the whole thing. I put my arms up in victory and yell "I AM THE GREATEST GOLFER IN THE WORLD!!!" I got to the green and I had about a 12 foot putt ahead of me... or a 17 footer, a 4 footer and a one footer... but I managed to make that one, sealing my only birdie of the day.
Man it was fun. That kind of stuff, for a weekend golfer, is a rare occurrence. It makes it worth it though.
Zatko always walks the course, which I have no objections to. With my lack of activity in the last 6 years (I would go skiing and stuff, and in college there were a lot of hills and drinking games), it's good to walk the course every time. However, the first time out with golf shoes is a lesson in pain. By the third hole, I felt as if someone placed razor blades in the back of my shoes, and at the same time, used a salt / lemonjuice / gasoline mixture in them and set them on fire. However, I don't regret walking at all, even with my complete inability to move faster than 4 inches a second today. To ease some of the pain, I'd kick the ground pretty hard, shoving my toes into the one inch space at the front of the golf shoes, meanwhile slicing the sides of my toes, giving me about 4 seconds of relief before they slid back into place, bringing on the salted flaming razors with a twist of lemon sensation again. Luckily, we went back to the car after 9 and got my regular shoes. After that, I was fine. As you can imagine, my toes hurt today.
And I had so many three putts, that Zatko and I were taking an equal number of shots at me. We coined the term "A hard three-putt". That's one where anyone, ANYONE, who has even dreamt about one day playing golf should make in two putts or less. An easy three-putt is one with lots of twists and turns, or just great distance, or both. They're easy to three putt. I would say I three putted about 14 holes that day. And I ended up with a 90. 45 front, 45 back. Yes, 42 shots could have easily been 28. A 90 could have easily been a 76. Well, most likely not, since I always screw up at the end. I'm not sure exactly how many holes I three putted, so I'm not sure that I could have shot a 76. But just for a "for instance"... this one hole, par 3, over a lake of stagnant, malaria carrying mosquito filled water, I made it right on in one. I three putted. It's brutal.
So, if I am going to practice anything, it's going to be my putting, and it's going to be at Putt-Putt.
But, onto the other news!!
Jim and Kate had a Boy!!! Seamus Michael!!! I'll be posting pictures as soon as Kate's giganormous email makes its way from Japan. Congratulations Jim and Kate!!! I can't wait to see pictures :)