I remember the first time I hit a proper 6-iron…
It happened about 23 year years ago, on a sunny summer morning, on the 7th fairway at the Wonthaggi Golf Club, 80 miles southeast of Melbourne, Australia.
Prior to the hallowed moment, I just wasn’t getting the hang of golf, even though I’d made literally hundreds of strokes. Getting the ball up in the air from a non-teed lie in the grass isn’t easy. This is a game where a 16th of an inch mistake can translate into yards and yards of error, and I was darn near ready to give up. Still, there’s something to be said for thick-headed determination, so there I was, up at 6:30, again attempting to add another sport to my quiver of athletic pursuits.
Then, without warning, the great moment came. It all clicked.
Standing on the emerald green carpet, about 180 yards from the pin, I stood over the glistening white orb awash in the morning dew only just baking off the tines of the pristine lawn. Taking the club head back, stiff lead arm, rotating through the swing, and up, up the soaring ball went! Then, after arcing high in the beaming sun, the dimpled Dunlop began its descent, and I heard the wonderful sound of “phoomp-phoomp” as my prize landed and lay 3 feet from the pin.
In that very instant I was hooked. I knew I could “get” this game, and hours of frustrating hacks gave way to an ever more thrilling sense of real accomplishment.
Because it had not come quickly, or easily, my heart was full of a particular joy reserved only for those who find pleasure after persevering through significant pain.
Like tennis, initially, golf is a most unforgiving, unflinching critic. One always receives instant feedback with each swing of the driver, and it is plainly obvious to everyone nearby whether success has been achieved, or not. You simply cannot pick up a keypad, joystick or wireless wand, thrash about or flail wildly and still hope to find a happy result waiting at the other end of the court or round the dog-leg.
It’s neat to be able to pretend playing at various things without ever having to leave the den. But it doesn’t come close to the blistered, sweaty, sun-burned, aching thrill afforded to those who would risk finding the fruits beyond actual defeat over the make-believe sensations packaged within a virtual victory.