I generally don’t think of myself as a quitter. Well, except for diets, workouts, resisting nachos, yardwork, and learning Spanish. I’ve lost count of the number of boxed sets of learn conversational Spanish CD’s I have in the closet. Every time I see a new ad advertising a new method of “learn Spanish in your spare time”, I buy it. When I had a monster daily commute, why not make productive use of your time? Within a week I’d be back to listening to late ’80’s angry punk rock during the drive. Much better to stoke the road rage fire with. My commute is now approximately five minutes, so at best I might learn a word a day. Two complete sentences every year!
Which brings me back to quitting. Specifically, golf. I’ve quit golf before. Several decades ago we moved to Houston Texas. Lovely people, terrible climate, and not much to do except eat and play golf. I was exceptional at the eating part. I took up golf and used it mostly as an excuse to eat at the clubhouse. When we left Texas I suddenly once again had access to more diverse outdoor things to do, and the golf clubs disappeared into the garage somewhere.
Fast foreword a frighteningly long period of time and a buddy began pestering me to play again. Having reached an age where my mountain biking, skiing, and rock climbing probably isn’t as sustainable long term as it once was… golf seems like something I can do for much longer. Besides, once you reach a certain age you stop caring what people think about your plaid pants.
So, I began the journey once more – with results about the same as I had in back in Texas. When I started purchasing golf balls by the truckload because I was losing so many, I decided it was time for lessons. I cycled through several instructors without much success until just recently.
My first lesson with the new coach went so well I ran out and bought a ridiculously expensive push cart because I was going to start playing every day. During my second lesson he made a few more changes and for the first time ever I actually hit a golf ball correctly. Not just correctly, spectacularly well. Crushing it distances I didn’t think were possible. I went to bed that night dreaming of turning pro. Senior tour, here I come!
The next morning I went to the range to practice and reinforce my amazing new swing… and chunked an entire large bucket of balls about twenty feet in front of me. I literally could have thrown a ball further and straighter than I was hitting with the clubs. Less than 24 hours later the brand new swing was gone. Even the old swing was gone. Expletives were flying.
I actually walked back to the car and left the clubs on the range. I was going to drive away and be done with this horrible sport. I came to my senses enough to go grab the clubs, but I was definitely done. Fuck golf. It’s for old people anyway. I’m going back to mountain biking.
I stewed for a solid two weeks. Then with my tail between my legs, I snuck back to the range. Same result. I’ve never felt so helpless and uncoordinated in my life. I’m not a superstar athlete, but I’m at least semi-coordinated. How is it possible for me to be so bad at something? The thought of quitting again just bothered me. How can all those little old ladies whack it down the fairway with some success and I can’t?
I made emergency calls to every golf course near me and found an instructor with an open time the next morning. Within a half-hour he had me hitting at PGA pro quality again (in my head anyway). I went to the range the next day and – the swing was still there.
I’m proud of myself for not quitting. I’ve never played a sport that I simultaneously enjoyed and hated so much. I figure if I can persist with this, maybe that resolve will spill over to dieting. Anyway, I’m headed back to the range today. If I can sustain two practice sessions in a row, I may actually attempt to play a round again. If not, look on craigslist for a complete set of golf equipment. The clubs will be cheap because most of them will be in two pieces.
Sandy: I want you to kill all the gophers on the course!
Carl Spackler: Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…
Sandy: Gophers, ya great git! Not golfers! The little brown furry rodents!
Carl Spackler: We can do that… we don’t even have to have a reason.