Then a funny thing happened: I started growing. For some reason, I doomed my professional career in each and every sport by quitting basketball before I grew and picking up golf after. When I tried out for the golf team my sophomore year of high school, I was still below 6 feet tall. Two years later, I was 6’6″ and none of my equipment worked anymore.
Since graduating from high school, I’ve kind of lost track of the game completely. But in the past couple years, I’ve been trying to claw my way back.
First of all, it’s one thing to outgrow your equipment. It happened several times as a kid as I stepped up to new beginner sets of clubs. But when you’re as tall as I am, you can’t just go pick up a new set from Sports Authority or a PGA Tour Superstore or something — everything is still the wrong size. Custom fitting clubs isn’t a huge cost, but it’s an added consideration when you’re looking into a new set of $200-$300 clubs. And I was playing about once a year, making that an iffy investment.
But then I rediscovered a par-3 course here in Flagstaff that added an extra twist: They rented clubs and included them in the price of green fees. Now I could play a small course and try to rebuild my swing in the process — all for $8, a steal in the wonderful summer weather we get here.
Sure, the rental clubs were like any other — too short. But I discovered that I could retool my swing to accommodate the clubs you regular-sized people use by lowering my stance and hitting down on the ball, and the par-3 course was the perfect way to do it. None of the holes are more than 135 yards, so I could make simple 80-90% swings on each hole instead of having my mechanics break down on a full swing. Besides, it’s a very low-key course where people can just have fun with it.
Fast forward to this past weekend. The At the Buzzer crew went golfing along with our old buddy Andy (who will guest host on the November 3 episode — stay tuned) at a short course, which basically means there’s a few par 4’s and 5’s but mostly a variety of 3’s. We also got rental carts and had a grand olde time. But more importantly, I started to find my old game again on the back nine, charging back with a 7-over 37 and making three pars in the process.
See, that’s the thing about me and golf: I don’t really care about becoming a great player or reducing my handicap to scratch or whatever. I just want to play well enough to make a few good shots and avoid embarrassing myself, and thanks to some off-and-on play up here, I’ve been able to do that. Knocking a shot from 150 yards to inside 10 feet is just enough of a rush to keep me coming back again and again, an experience to which most other duffers can relate, I’m sure.