Five Months Without Golf

I am a weekend golfer. Too bad I’m not a great player but I really like to play. And that passion was interrupted by the eternal quarantine decreed when there were only five hundred and eighteen infected people in the country. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to track down those little more than five hundred guys than to lock up forty-five million for so long?

Stop! This is a note about golf, not about politics nor public health.

I have just spent five months without playing, without practicing and almost the same time without stepping on the grass. I confess that, out of nostalgia, in a few days during the quarantine I grabbed a short club and tested the grip. Not to mention trying a swing because I don’t have the space in the apartment. I even tried swinging a club on the balcony but soon realized that the result would be one out of two possibilities: it would destroy the balcony roof or, much worse, it would destroy my club. So, no! The only contact with golf during all that quarantine time was a short, fleeting practice of putting on the carpet in my bedroom. Well, and some instructional videos too but I don’t take those into account because I didn’t move my body while watching them.

But, finally, the day came!

With the release of individual sports in the city of Buenos Aires this August 17, 2020, I signed up to go to the driving range to practice. I took the turn for the first available time, at 8 in the morning, I called by phone, entered the internet page, downloaded an application, that is, completed all the steps that were never necessary to throw some balls in a driving range. Amazing, isn´t it? How can it be that we have made it so complicated?

Fifteen minutes before my turn I was almost reaching the driving lot when I realized that there were several players more anxious than I was and therefore there was already a long line of cars to enter the parking lot that was still closed. Closed? Don’t those employees understand that there is a repressed, and very repressed, demand that wants to go to practice? Why haven’t they come earlier?

When I finally managed to get in and park the Peugeot, change my shoes and get the bag of clubs out of the trunk, I had to get in another line, now to pay and receive the basket of balls. Well, to make it short, I managed to get to the cat flap, which was not the same one in the reservation, about twenty past eight. Punctuality? No, not even mention that!

I am one of those people in whom golf awakens an enormous fascination from the physical and from the mental sides. That’s why I try to focus on my swing every time I go to practice. I started with a short club, a pitch, and a short backswing to come into play as well. I confess that the first results soon led me to question whether that was the best day to return to golf. For me, bad swings awaken a mental process of attention to emotions and techniques before and during each stroke.

From the bottom up, I thought first of my feet. Were they separated by a distance similar to my shoulder width? Did I feel the weight more on my knuckles than on my heels? To be a little more sophisticated, I took care of standing in the stance feeling more weight on the inside of my right foot to be able to come back from the backswing easier.

Things started to improve a bit.

So I took care of my knees so as not to have tension in that part of the body and to have the proper flexion. Then I went to the hip. The hip area had to be relaxed, feeling the flexion at the height of the femur heads. My back, which has caused me so much suffering throughout my life due to herniated discs, should be straight to allow me to turn. The truth is that I cannot turn if my back is bent forward.

Well, the balls started to fly. Not exactly in the direction I wanted but they started to take flight, which is not little.

I moved on to the arms and the grip. I’m a fan of the left arm stretched out throughout the swing. Therefore, the right arm has to be relaxed to accompany. That is not achieved if the right hand grip is too tight. How are the fingers of the right hand? Yes, with a soft grip on the club. And the fingers of the left hand? They carry the club with a firm grip but without tension. It is difficult to explain but golfers surely know that feeling. I then concentrated on rotating my shoulders and reaching the limit of the backswing before unloading.

Wow! Nice flight with long distance and good direction.

Ready? Not! You have to be able to repeat that wonderful shot.

The replay attempt, well, it was just an attempt. I had to start over from my feet but I don’t want to bore you all over again. I added attention to the weight transfer. For one side and for the other. On the backswing the weight is felt on the right foot and then the weight is transferred to the left foot in the finish. The hands feel the club all the time. The eyes look at the ball to keep your head in position throughout the sweep. I almost forgot that, before starting the swing, you have to breathe and get the air out of the bottom of your stomach!

Ready! Yes now! A nice shot! With long distance and very good direction.

Now I can repeat the good shots with all the balls that I have left in the basket of one hundred. I calculated the subtraction and saw that it has costed me ninety-six balls to recover my swing. Well, at least I have four balls to practice well.

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