The CO was a golfer.
Great. Those who can’t play sports, coach. Those who can’t coach, golf. On the other hand, he would be writing our FITREPS.
So we took lessons.
I bought a used set of clubs for a hundred bucks, which sounded reasonable seeing how I had no reference point, and signed up for three sessions with a “golf pro”, whatever that meant.
At the first lesson, the pro told me I had paid too much for my clubs. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t recall ever seeing him golf on TV. Our relationship didn’t get off to a roaring start.
Over the course of the three training session, he explained that golf was a game of opposites. Aim right to go left. Swing soft and the ball will go further.
I didn’t get it. This is America, man. NOBODY swings soft. In this country, we aim for the fence. And if I want to go left, I’ll aim left. That’s the way it works in America.
He taught us the basics. How to tee off. How to putt. How to yell “fore.” None of it took, except maybe the last one. After each lesson, he told us to practice. Sure.
After three lessons, he told one of us, “You’re doing pretty well with your drives.” To the other, “Your irons are coming along.” To me he said, “You’re not very good at anything.”
His chance of getting me to sign up for more lessons was getting pretty remote.
But it didn’t matter, because the Admiral was coming to town, and the new CO needed two foursomes. It was show time – my chance to make a good impression with the big guy. The good golfers would play with the Admiral. The others would golf with the Admiral’s wife.
She was a pretty good golfer, the Admiral’s wife. As we walked along, she explained that golf is a game of opposites. I should aim left to hit right.
With a polite smile, I ignored her.
Facing a long par 5, I resolved to show her how it’s done. I would swing hard, and aim left to get around the water at the far end – aim left to GO left. With a mighty smack the ball soared into the heavens.
It went right.
So far right that it sailed off the golf course and bounced onto the road running parallel to our hole. The ball hit the undercarriage of a mini-van that happened to be driving off the base and through some kind of weird golf english it began to bounce between the van and the road as the vehicle continued down the road. When the ball finally escaped, it came to rest just off the fringe of the green. The Admiral’s wife avoided me the rest of the round, and I’m sure the Admiral got an earful later about sticking her with a bunch of hackers. My only condolence was that I was a pitch and a putt away from an eagle.
The fact that I double-bogied is secondary to the epiphany that was experienced that day. Golf is indeed a game of opposites. If you want to make a bad impression, try to make a good one. Things you would rather forget are the things people remember forever.
And if you want to enjoy the game of golf, and by that I mean really, thoroughly enjoy every minute of it, don’t play.