Some things just feel right. Last week I came home from traveling and decided I’d spend some time with my four year old, Zach, while Max was in school instead of spending much needed time in the office. Ron told of Max and Zach dragging Ron’s golf clubs into the front yard and chipping golf balls over the weekend (while I was away). This morning, Zach suggested that he and I play golf. The weather had finally taken the turn I was waiting for—a spring warm-up. I love warm, growing up in Louisiana, I know hot. Last month I was in Wisconsin and I know it’s warm that I love. It was sunny, starting to turn springy and Zach and I chased the little white ball a bit. As we got outside, he handed me a wedge . . .
I remember my first round of golf. Several years ago, I was in Alamogordo, NM for a youth event. The youth director, Wes, and the choir director, Mike, asked me what we should do on one of our days off. They suggested golf. I said, “I love golf.” They picked me up and we headed off to Cloudcroft Golf Course, which was a beautiful course with lovely homes lining the fairways. As we drove toward the course, I learned that they played together almost every week. Looking back, our experience was pretty comical, especially the first tee. As we arrived, we rented a set of clubs for me, got me a box of balls and a cart. Mike hit a screaming drive and then Wes really got a hold of his first shot. They were both perfectly situated in the middle of the fairway. We headed to the ladies’ tee and as I prepared to tee up my ball, I said, “Ok, how do you play?” They were surprised and I said, “You didn’t know I didn’t play?” They were both shocked. “Well, I am a youth director’s wife — I have a lot of miniature golf experience, but I just know I’ll enjoy and excel at this game.” After they picked their jaws up from the cart-path, they proceeded to teach me how to play. Once I was told I was holding my club too tightly. So I compensated and as I swung, I remember my driver flying out of my hands. It must have looked like an episode of the three stooges. I spent the next few holes trying to make my ball go as far as that driver had. Once I remember picking my ball up and throwing it farther than my best drive. Eighteen holes make a long game for a rookie. Let’s just say that several groups played through. I have to say they were really good sports about the whole day and to many of your surprise, those guys are still my friends to this day.
Upon returning home to the Dallas area from my New Mexico trip, Ron couldn’t believe I didn’t tell them I didn’t know how to play. “Well they didn’t ask me, if I knew how to play. They said, ‘Do you like golf?’ I answered, ‘I love it’ and that was true.'” During our years in Dallas, I encouraged Ron’s friends to let me tag-a-long on their golf outings. One of my favorite teachers was named Bob. He was an attorney and we’d play with him and his two sons, Bobby and Ryan. He always had great tips and I was pretty good at taking his advice. I remember the first time I really got a hold of a ball. I remember the sound it made. And I remember how my grip felt unusual at first, yet I really connected and it was a great shot for my experience level. I did a victory dance. When you hit one great shot, you want to keep on playing. Bob was also there to watch me blow up on a hole. He always had a quick comment or joke for me and he has this explosive. Anyone who knows him will tell you how infectious that laugh is. The game was just never about the score. Bob was my favorite golf counselor. For me the whole day was about enjoying his company and his smile. The golf tips were just lagniappe, (that’s French for a little something extra.) Bob’s way of just gently teaching –he taught with loving eyes, you know, eyes that smiled and laughed and made you feel special while teaching you something. That’s it–he’d say when I really hit one. Then when I’d mess up, he’d smile and say that’s golf. The thing I looked forward to was our time with Bob and his humor and delight in love of our time together, much more than a golf lesson.
When we moved to Tennessee, I continue to play a little here and there I dusted off some old golf clubs of my dad’s and entered the game. I still tagged along when I got the chance. Somehow, my grip changed. I got more and more comfortable with it and yet my game didn’t improve–it got worse. Once my sons came along, I didn’t play for a number of years.
Looking back, playing with those first two guys in New Mexico and our youth worker guys in Texas, and with our friends here in Tennessee, I was the only girl. I should have been the odd person out, but I never felt like I was. My memories of those days spent together on the course were that some things just feel right. You breathe differently, you’re at ease. The company builds you up and you leave better. It had had very little to do with the golf, it was about spending time with great people.
Now, here I was in my front yard. As I showed Zach how to hold a club, keep your head down, loosen your knees, and see where you want the ball to go. Follow through all the way. I can still hear Bob’s words for me and his laugh. The thing I loved most were those days getting to know him and his family. The golf was good, but the family was much better. Losing your ball in the woods, getting stuck in a sand trip, hitting your last ball into the water, like that scene in “Tin Cup,” riding in his cart. I don’t even remember what we talked about, but it fit–like getting a good grip. Something was just right about it. I don’t know what made it so, but I have a feeling it was mostly just being with Bob. Zach brings my focus back to the game and says, “you try one, mommy!” Well I just teed it up and let it go and off it went. It was a beautiful shot over our Magnolia tree that stands near our mailbox. “Wow,” Zach yelled. Hey let’s see if I can really get something going. We live on an acre lot, so I teed up diagonally across the yard. My old grip was back! Long before I changed, changed, changed, I remember Bob’s words, and almost hit the mailbox. On my second shot, returning from the mailbox, I overshot my target and it bounced toward the street. “Mom, that was great,” Zach proclaimed. Just as Ron came out to check on us. “Celia, what in the world? The other day when Zach and I played, I wasn’t hitting them full out. You could hit someone’s house or a car.” “Yeah,” Zach laughed thinking that might be good for a laugh.
I told Zach about some guys who play golf a lot better than mommy like Tiger Woods, and a couple of Louisiana fellows Hal Sutton and David Toms. Like mommy’s a song maker-upper they play golf as their work. Zach said, “next time can we invite them over to hit golf balls to our mailbox?” Next time, we just might. As Zach and I picked up the golf balls and found my last one, in the bushes, I smiled as I realized more than my grip what really felt right was time spent with Zach–real, uninterrupted time. Like golf, sometimes you just don’t connect, the more I over-think things, the worse it is and sometimes, it’s just right. When it clicks, it seems that I’m remembering the importance stuff and forgetting all the other stuff and I’m amazed. Important stuff–like hanging out, doing something together. Time–I do know this life is like a vapor. So friends soak it up and hit some golf balls with your mom, dad, children or friends. Turn off the TV and do something together. Hear stories, tell jokes, laugh, be together, fish, dance, play a game, talk some friends into teaching you something new–thanks, Wes & Mike! Like snowboarding, or playing spades or bunco or crocheting or joining a book club. Because my theory is that Life is too LONG not to enjoy it. You too may finds that “it’s a fit and it feels just right.”