July 21, 2010
Recently, I’ve started doing a new bit on how I’m getting older. The basic premise is that even at 26, a relatively young age, I find myself looking back and noticing the changes in my life. I think we can add this to the list of things that can unequivocally prove that I’m becoming an adult:
I hurt myself while golfing.
How lame is that? But what’s worse is the manner in which I hurt myself. I didn’t strain a rotator cuff or tweak my back. I hurt myself in a way that was almost unrelated to golf entirely, save for the setting.
I was at a course called Cedarbrook near Uniontown on the 4th hole. It was a straight shot to the pin. I sliced my tee shot badly and my Nike golf ball looked like it sailed over a creek. I drove up to find my ball and there it was, signaling me from the other side. There was no easy way to get over there in the cart, but the gap between the banks of the creek were not that far apart, maybe 10-12 feet across. So I said to myself what any self-respecting man has said to himself at one point in his life: “I think I can jump it.”
I’m hoping as I get older my decision making skills improve. I certainly didn’t take into account that I could have just dropped a ball and continued to play. I would have been out the 92 cents that an average golf ball costs but at least I wouldn’t have had to conquer that creek. But my Y chromosomes said, “No. You must reclaim that ball. It is your destiny.” I realized that it wasn’t just a Nike golf ball that sat on the other side of that creek. It was my manhood.
I was in plaid shorts, a polo shirt and a panama hat. Not exactly creek jumping gear. I backed up a few steps so I could make it across. I threw my club over the creek to the other side, so I wouldn’t have to carry it on the jump.
I ran. I leaped. I made it. “Still got it,” I said to myself.
I hit my ball without even really looking at it. It sailed onto the green. A pretty good shot given the circumstances.
I threw my club again over to the other side. I had made this jump literally seconds ago, so it would be no problem now. I dropped a few steps back again, got up to full speed and leaped through the air again.
There’s a point in the arc of a jump when your brain reassesses the situation. I must have caught a nasty headwind because there was no way I was making it this time. I fell several feet short of my intended landing point. My foot sunk into about 8 inches of mud and I fell (and fell with great artistry).
Muck shot up the one side of my body, peppering me with brown creek slime. My back looked like a Jackson Pollock painting without all the angst and deliberation. I stumbled forward, waiting for the searing pain of a sprained ankle to reach my brain. I was heading toward a full face plant as well. I remembered from watching the Ninja Turtles to tuck and roll to absorb impact, so I did. I became a pinwheel wearing plaid shorts on the fairway. I jammed two of my fingers badly while I splayed myself out. I laid there for a second and quickly jumped to my feet. Somehow no one else in my foursome had noticed. They were all preoccupied with cursing violently at their own level of play.
My legs were scuffed and bleeding, my right shoe was choked with sludge and my fingers started ballooning to the size of Ball Park Franks. I got up and wiped myself off with a golf towel, acting as though nothing had happened.
We all approached the green simultaneously to make our putts. “What the hell happened to you?” asked my dad.
“Nothing,” I lied. “I just had to hit it out of the mud.”
I two-putted my Nike Golf ball into the hole. Another person in my foursome picked it up and handed it to me.
“Do you like playing with these?” he asked as he examined my ball.
“Yep. Nike’s all the way.” I replied.
“Oh…this one says Titelist. You sure this is yours?”
I had risked my life and injured my pride for the wrong golf ball. Obviously a wiser man than I had been put in a similar situation and rightly deemed his ball a lost cause.
I’ve heard that you only learn lessons through experiencing pain.