Monday, January 6, 2014

A “Shot” Of Resolve

As published in The County Times ( in June 2011

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

It was a fabulously atypical mid-week spring day.  At first, there was nothing overtly out of the ordinary.  The weather forecast was, as expected, sunny and seasonably warm.  The day’s first sound, familiarly rude and abrupt, gave no indication that this dawn would produce a day drastically different from its yesterday or tomorrow.  This day’s delightful weather wouldn’t be wasted behind a desk though, and the abrupt morning sound – a dutiful alarm clock – woke its master not for another day of work but for a round of golf. 

A “best ball” or “captain’s choice” tournament was on the agenda.  This popular format allows a foursome to select the best shot after each rotation with all players hitting their next shots from that location.  For him, “hack golfer” (antonym for scratch golfer) that he is, it’s a beautiful thing.  No matter how disastrous the first three shots are, if the fourth guy drills it down the middle, everyone essentially drilled it down the middle.  It’s socialism we can all agree on.

With good friends in the foursome in front of his, a pride-based wager was negotiated between the groups and relentless, good-natured heckling ensued.  About halfway through the round, his team had spread about three holes worth of competent play over nine holes.  It was epically bad.  Facing a short par 3 with a wickedly tiered green, water in front and to the right and thick foliage to the left and off the back of the green, the “fantastic” four wasn’t teeing off with any confidence.  To make matters worse, the following hole’s tee was just off the green, thereby giving their heckling buddies a front row and within-ear-shot seat to the inevitable carnage.  

The first three shots to the green were literally right into the drink (take 1), painfully short and barely dry on the embankment in front of the green (take 2) and left into the woods (take 3).  Their boys, lubed up on the over-21 sauce and waiting to tee off on the next hole, were lobbing increasingly obnoxious verbal barbs with each successive sacrifice of an innocent golf ball.  He had one more swing to pull his foursome from the burning building.   

Nothing in his golfing history and certainly nothing from this day would have led even a degenerate gambler from putting a nickel on his shot coming up aces.  It was a healthy 9-iron to the green.  The way he had been striking the ball, he considered a compensatory 8-iron.  As he drew his sword from his golf bag, he figured screw it, act like a golfer and assume you’re going to hit it flush…he grabbed the 9-iron.  With a boisterous audience quieting ever so briefly as he swung, he hit it square.  The ball launched on a majestic trajectory and was dead-on the pin.  One thought crossed his mind: be right.  After a soft landing, a bounce and a gentle roll, the ball stopped…less than two feet from the pin.  His foursome erupted and his jeering buddies standing greenside quietly tipped their caps. 
The shot was, most assuredly, a fleeting flirtation with golfing brilliance.  Nevertheless, as the perfect tonic for another frustrating round littered with errant shots, it was a moment that reaffirmed his connection with a mercurial game and ensured his rapid return to the links to chase the next lasting memory.     

His on again, off again relationship with golf needed this moment.  Truth is, we all need these rejuvenating moments, whether we play golf or not.  Personal relationships need breaks from daily routines to cultivate new, binding experiences.  Workplaces should pause to recognize and celebrate individual and team accomplishments.  Marriages need the occasional quiet, child-less dinner when a wife, through a rare carefree smile from across the table, unknowingly reminds her husband that he married the most beautiful women in the world. 

We are resilient creatures.  Life demands it.  Still, positive experiences restore our resolve.  Teeing up a new golf ball and promptly depositing it in the water hazard, literally and figuratively, is inevitable.  However, balanced against just a few positive moments, such failings won’t matter nearly as much.  

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