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Golf Ball-Sized Fail: A Return to the Frustrating

The white-dimpled nemesis
One thing I have painfully found out over the past year or so (other than the true meaning of an Ohio winter): geographical relocation does not help your golf game.

Okay, twenty years of rust and aging doesn't help either. And moving out to the home metro of one of professional golfing's greatest ever, Jack Nicklaus, hasn't added one modicum of talent to my paltry skills either.

I suppose backtracking is in order here. Twenty years ago, I used to play golf weekly in a work-based league. If nothing else, the league provided me an opportunity to unwind, drink a few brews, enjoy time with co-workers outside of work and, every now and again, hit a shot that would make even Jack himself applaud. Eventually, circumstances changed and the league was no more, and slowly but surely my interest in the sport faded.

Then came last year, when a good friend of me and the Mrs. finally found that someone with whom the tie the knot. Part of his bachelor party itinerary, which I was invited to and accepted heartily, was golfing 18 holes. I thought to myself what a fun start this would be to a big night of celebration.

Then reality thunked into my brain like an errant tee shot: I hadn't even thought about striking that dimpled white ball in nearly two decades, nor did I have the equipment (save for a random assortment of golf balls) to do it with. I made a decision that this would be my "re-dip my toes in the water" trial: I'd make a minimal investment in some golf equipment and see if my interest came back again.

I've found Play It Again Sports a great resource for quality used and new sporting goods for a good price back in the Bay Area, and I was happy to find out the Columbus metro area had a few locations. I figured that in an area where golfing interest is higher than most, there would be a location rife with golfing equipment. Sure enough, the Hilliard location fit this bill nicely with a pretty nice inventory. In keeping with my minimal investment promise, I forked down about $80 for a pretty decent haul: an older standard set of clubs (including bag and putter,) gloves, the cheapest pitching/sand wedge I could find, and a bag of tees.

These folks could've had a good laugh if they just
looked over their shoulder...
My only practice session before the game took place in the southern portions of Dublin. Ables Golf on Avery doesn't look like much from the road, but it provides the facilities for basic practicing (a large hitting area, covered and outdoor tee areas and a pitching and putting green) plus a few extras (a putt-putt course geared toward kids, swing analysis, and teaching pros for either scheduled or walk-in golf lessons.)

As you might expect, this session was laughably bad. My body sort of knew what to do, but the results were nowhere near consistent. Never mind (unknown at the time) that I had bought a club set geared for someone about 3-4 inches taller than me. My typical slice was sort of there, but I threw in a few pulls, pop-ups, worm-burners, and even some almost-whiffs for good measure. The bachelor party match a couple days later wasn't much better, but the scramble format made it easy for me to contribute every now and again to our team's success.

Aiming is a relative term, right?
Since then, I've actually gained some insight into what has turned out to be a dabbling interest in this sport of exasperation. As alluded to previously, my clubs are made for someone a few inches taller than I am. The simple adjustment of choking up on my clubs has helped me strike the ball a lot more cleanly on most swings. On the other hand, the wedge and the putter I have have the totally opposite issue, being designed for someone more height-challenged than I. Yes, my intent was not to invest too heavily in this second dabbling, but nevertheless this experience fits that oft-repeated mantra: you get what you pay for.

Even now, the practice range still remains a yin and yang of promise and frustration, mainly divided along types of clubs. I have been hitting my woods (traditionally my favorite clubs anyway) about as well and as far as I ever have. On the other side, my irons are completely confounding pieces of metal. My shots are generally straight, but the distances are similar across groups of clubs (my 4-iron seems to go as far as my 6-iron, while I can hit my 9-iron as far as a 7-iron.)

Perhaps the ultimate decider will be getting a regular group of folks to play some golf with again. Golf is often times a frustrating pursuit, but when paired up with good company and some 19th hole refreshments, it's really not too bad a pursuit at all.

Play It Again Sports
4720 Cemetery Road
Hilliard, OH 43026
(614)529-9100
Website

Ables Golf on Avery
5300 Avery Rd
Dublin, OH 43016
(614)529-9650
Website

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