I do not want to give the impression that I do not like golf. To be sure, there are some people who are perhaps too fond of the sport, and still others who greatly dislike it and would make fun of those who do, but although I am a very inexperienced golfer, I have enjoyed it when I have done it, and yesterday (as I write this), I had the chance to golf with some fellow brethren and a couple of ministers in the format I am most comfortable with as a golfer, and that is doing a best-ball scramble where I can occasionally provide a good putt and someone else can drive and hit approach shots that I am not very good at. My efforts today were not too dissimilar from what happened previously when I golfed in that I had serious difficulties in driving (more on that anon), provided a few solid putts that allowed the group to save par on some occasions, and, surprisingly enough to me, allowed me to make at least one approach shot to a hole that was the best of the group, contrary to all possible expectations based on my supremely modest skills at golf. Of the three groups, our group ended up with the highest score at 7 above par, with one group two strokes ahead of us at 5 above par and another group that ended up under par.
The course itself we played on was the Cinnamon Hill course, which my scorecard tells me is a course that is 6380 yards total from the white tees, from which we played. For a golfer of my limited abilities, this is a significant challenge. The course is a gorgeous one, with plenty of trees, some doglegs and creative course design including some massive bunkers and the Caribbean Sea serving as the water hazard on a few occasions. There are elevated tees, elevated greens, and only a few courses where one can approach using my own favored technique of taking a higher than usual numbered club and bouncing the golfball straight towards the hall and having it bounce until it got there, although on a few occasions I was able to get the lift and drive I wanted, and our local expert was considerably skilled at club selection, especially given that some of us (myself as well as one of the pastors in our group) were extreme newbies, and the other pastor, who had some genuine talent and experience, was having a bad case of the shanks.
Given that we ended up with nine bogies and one eagle on the course, some comments about our playing as a group are well worth making. A couple of us (myself included) seemed to have a magical attraction to trees, which led us to knock a few branches off of the arboreal aspects of the court and to lose a fair amount of balls. Quite often too we had an attraction to bunkers, including one memorable hole that had a huge bunker that reminded me of a Reese’s cup, given that the wall of the bunker was wooden, and therefore from a distance the color of milk chocolate. The greens on the course were also consistently slow and frequently had tricky approaches, which was a challenge to our group given the limited abilities of at least half of us. The fact that I managed to hole a few lengthy putts given those conditions and the limits of my skill was almost as miraculous as the fact that I managed to avoid a terrible sunburn, heatstroke, or an allergic reaction stronger than a fit of a rash from the mango tree that we encountered late in the course.
As a golfer of little natural ability, I can think of a few things that would be necessary should I wish to be more competitive. Some time spent at a driving range–many hours more than likely–along with the assistance of a trainer to help out with such matters as my swing would likely be necessary. Given the rarity of times where I have been invited to a golf course, such action has not yet and may never be taken. At this stage of life, golf is something that I infrequently practice and do not do well but at least maintain a good sense of humor about when I do play. As is the case with many of the sports I enjoy, including the ones I happen to be better at, golf is a social sport where my enjoyment of good company is as important as the exercise that one gets from doing it. And let us make no mistake, golf is a challenging and rewarding amount of exercise even when one using golf carts. Walking is still more tough of a physical challenge, and by the end of the 18 holes at least a few of us (myself included) were flagging a bit because of a spot of dehydration (given the pucity of water, available about once every three holes or so) as well as the fact that we had all skipped lunch to play, which in retrospect added considerably to the difficulty level. Still, it was a lovely afternoon on a beautiful course with good company and that is always something to be appreciated.