I keep a club
right next to my bed in case I get a new swing thought in the
middle of the night. More than once I’ve gotten up at 3 a.m.
to grip and waggle the club or to try out a new posture or
take-away. My condo looks like a driving range after the
customers have gone home. Golf balls everywhere, under the
plants, under the bed and sofa, on my kitchen tile, and
especially in the hallway. That’s where I’ve done my best
putting, but for the life of me, in seven years here I’ve yet
to read my carpet correctly. I always think, as I putt west to
east, that it’s a left hand break. I’ve got golf balls all
over the place in my backyard which I share with my condo
neighbors. I practice there and I can prove it. The siding on
the back of my condo has multiple dents where I have flat out
shanked shots aimed down the narrow corridor between the units
and the woods of the park behind our association. I have yet
to hit any cars or pedestrians but I’m rolling the dice with
every massive skull. Man, as an addict, I need protection
against myself. I can’t stop.
addiction. I go to a party and the talk turns to women. I yawn
and try to act interested but I’m thinking about my swing or
that four footer I missed last Sunday that would have won me a
pile of green. If I spot an attractive woman, the first thing
I think is, “I wonder what her swing looks like.” I’ve got it
bad. I’ve got a one-track mind. “Mr. Nichols, tell me what are
interests?” someone asks me. “Golf,” I say. “That’s nice,”
they say, following it up with a standard, and most
disappointing refrain. “I don’t play golf, but I like the
theatre and books. Do you read? Alan.” “Yes, I read golf
books. Thanks for asking,” I say, enthusiastically, hoping for
that one spark between us that might touch on the grand game.
I mention The legend of Bagger Vance. “Have you read it,” I
ask. “No,” she says, “is that a myth, like King Arthur and the
Round Table?” “Not exactly, but close,” I say a bit
sardonically. “They’re similar in that the protagonists seek
the holy grail but the nature of the grail is slightly
different in both stories,” I explain, adding, “If I were to
rewrite the Arthurian story, I might have Lancelot going out
into the woods seeking his power faded drive on 13. There, he
meets Guinevere who has snuck out of the castle for a quick
nine.” “You silly boy,” she quips. I move on.
talking to a older woman, too hefty to play golf, though not
to garden. “Do you like plants?” she asks me, prompting me to
think of that beat up Titleist under the dirty plate that
serves as a watering pot for my half dead plant. As I chat
with her, I find myself shifting my weight subtly from side to
side working on my rhythm and transition ( a tip I got from
David Owen’s My Usual Game), and try to look interested. She
doesn’t notice a thing. I go home.
the word. Obsessed implies that in between a thousand thoughts
there may be one in there that thinks about something else.
Not me, my brain is a black hole, not even light can get in,
let alone other thoughts beside golf.
obsession to new heights of madness. And speaking of March
madness. Leftover cold and rain from winter and I’m looking
out my living room window on a Sunday morning. That’s March
madness. Then I watch the PGA on TV and think, I wonder if
those guys know how lucky they are. Just to be playing.
every fiber of my being and it dominates my speech patterns.
Nearly everything I can think of is couched in terms of golf.
If I spill coffee because I didn’t get the cup to my lips, I
call it laying up short. My sex life is a straight pull. I
slice (slice!) my bagels in the morning and think, “release
the hands at impact.” I love jazz. My favorite? You guessed
it. “It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got that Swing.”
Man, have I got
it bad. Housebound on a rainy weekend I’m a wild bear (bore)
in a cage. I go to the living room where I practice my swing,
get bored with that, and go to the computer, get on line and
go into igolf where for the fourth time that morning I look at
the instruction. Speaking of instruction, I never met an
instruction article I didn’t read. The result: On the course,
I’ve got 25 swing thoughts tornadoing through my brain, most
of them contradictory. In fact, I’m a contradiction. I say I
play golf but play isn’t the word. Its more like work, slave
labor. I miss a putt and I don’t forget it for weeks. The pain
of it, the torture, the proverbial moth to the flame, I can’t
get enough of it and it’s killing me, or is it. I try
Golfaholics Anonymous? “Hello, my name’s Alan, I’m powerless
over golf.” Do you have a sponsor? They ask. “Sponsor? Oh, you
mean, mentor. Yes, Billy Wolfe. I take lessons from him every
summer. Great instructor. Helped straighten my fade out in no
time.” “No, no. Someone to help you stay clean and golf-free.”
“But I don’t want to be golf free,” I implore, “I want to be
free to play golf without pain.” “Then you must be in the
wrong place. Here, we practice complete abstinence. That’s the
only cure for our addiction.” “You’re kidding me!!” I leave
dejected and go to the White Flint Driving Range. As I hit
balls, I wonder, is this any way to live? I hum The Four Tops
tune, “I Can’t Help Myself.” Life without golf just aint life.
I suffer on....