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I am not Tiger Woods. I will never be Tiger Woods.Posted Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at 10:41 AM
This is my column as it will appear in this week's NSC. Normally I don't post these, but it was a lot of fun so I thought I would share it.
Last Thursday morning during my abbreviated vacation, I woke around 6 a.m. and decided that would be the best time for me to squeeze in a few holes of golf while I was away.
I strolled down the road following billboards and signs to the Warrenton Golf Club. It was a nice course and I didn't play too bad, at least not against my own standards and abilities.
As I was heading back to my father's house I started thinking about the first time I ever played.
I guess I should point out that I'm a relative 'newbie' at golf. I've played for about six years, and don't play as regularly as I would like to. Every year I talk about how that's going to change, but for some reason it never does.
Before my first round ever, though, I remember thinking about what a stupid sport golf was and how only old men played golf. I always wondered how people could run around chasing that little ball all day, let alone the idea of watching someone else do it on television.
That day I found out why, but to this day I still can't explain it.
I went out that day in the blistering sun with a couple of good friends and learned what it's like to enjoy something and still be absolutely pathetic.
I think I shot around 130 that day, give or take a few dozen swings. After I got home that day was when I came to realize a few of the valuable lessons golf has to offer.
Here are some of the rules I've learned over the years:
1. I am not Tiger Woods. I will never be Tiger Woods. To anyone planning their first trip, just beginning repeating that two line mantra now and save yourself some misery and disappointment.
2. When playing golf, you apparently use muscles in your body that have absolutely no other function whatsoever. That first game and typically the first round each year leave me feeling a lot like I have been run over by a truck. On a side note, typically more golf seems to help. Infrequent golf results in that pain every time you play so my goal is to play at least once a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less but it's a good goal.
3. Missing the ball can be far more painful than making contact, both for you and for those within 20 feet. When you miss the ball, the human body takes a crazy flailing action that transforms you into a Jerry Lewis style dancer.
4. Fore! This is what you yell after you've actually made contact and learned the hard way what this word means. I had a rather scary gentleman explain it to me shortly after my ball landed in his golf cart (while he was driving it).
5. Trees are your enemy. Being of the skill level that I am, much of my time is spent golfing around trees, behind trees, beside trees and even on a fallen tree once. The power with which a golf ball leaves the tree and travels toward your body is the equivalent of a 90 mph fastball. While golf is not a contact sport, I have left the course bruised following an altercation with an oak tree.
6. If golfing with a friend who is driving his cart behind you, always drive over his ball. It is considered a friendly greeting by many.
7. Make sure the ball you run over does in fact belong to your friend. I won't elaborate on this one or how I learned it.
8. Never reach out too far when trying to retrieve your ball from the water. This is especially important if you can not swim or find yourself easily humiliated.
9. If an animal retrieves your ball before you reach it (i.e. bear, large dog, alligator or Smurf), the ball now belongs to them. However, if you find yourself not emotionally attached to your fingers, hands or other appendages, feel free to give it a whirl. Quite often your friends will appreciate the entertainment during the excursion.
10. For more information and valuable lessons, rent 'Dorf on Golf.'
Now, it's back to listening to the sudden-death playoff round of the U.S. Open on AM radio. See, I even learned to watch other people playing golf. In the words of Beaver Cleaver, 'Who'd have thunk it?'
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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