Thursday, April 11, 2013

09- Playing Golf In My Living Room

Playing Golf In My Living Room
All my friends play it and swear by it. Men love it. Women love it. Kids love it. But I hate it. It’s boring.
Golf would be more fun if paintball guns were involved. I mean, knowing you could be hit in the back of the neck at any moment would add an element of concentration to the game I could learn to respect. But that’s just me. Hell, I’m a guy who thinks basketball would be more entertaining if players were equipped with roller skates and cattle prods too. I’d pay to see that.
Most of my experience with golf involves photographing tournaments and waiting as the old men of the clubhouse scene, with their hands in the air and shushhhhing everyone, exert the one moment of power they are allowed all year. Finally they’ll drop their hands and I can move into position for the next shot… along with hundreds of other people of course; a hard enough task without this interference. Unless you’re shooting for the tournament TV venue from a fixed position, live golf contests are no fun to cover. Even shooting with a large studio type camera from one location has it’s drawbacks. In order to follow that tiny white ball, as it tracks toward you in the air, you must set the contrast so only the white spot shows against a field of black. In others words, you don’t see a damn thing but that small white speck, and you pray you don’t lose sight of it while your camera’s on air. Maybe the technology has improved by now but that’s how we did it then. If you mess up, everyone on the headsets will know because the director will say something, or even worse replace you on the camera. It happens. And with that, let’s talk about something else…
As for actually swinging the clubs themselves…well, there are several good reasons I don’t enjoy that, but one example in particular sticks in my mind.
I was working with Bob Brandon and Dan Diamond. We were part of a five-man crew taping a show called “Golf Shots Video Magazine” on the island of Kauai at the Lagoons golf course. The host was former PGA champion Dave Stockton. The shoot ran for several days, and while I’m not an enthusiast of the game, I was amazed and entertained by the exotic layout of the course and the golfing skill of the host. It was a lot of fun.
On the final day of the shoot, the last scene took place on the Lagoons driving range. Stockton finished his lines; laid the driver he had borrowed from the rental shop on the ground next to the unused pile of range balls and joined the crew and several clubhouse workers in congratulating themselves on a job well done.
Now I’ve never claimed to be a golfer. I’ve said I don’t even like the game. But I had been watching one of the world’s best demonstrate his technique over and over and over. Perhaps that was what inspired me to pick up the driver lying next to the waiting pile of golf balls. That and the fact one ball was already teed up and just begging to be blasted, straight and true, out into the blue and green yonder.
The rest of the group was engaged in their conversations and not paying any attention to me. So I picked up the club and proceeded to address the ball. I turned my head to the left and visualized the white speck falling away in the distance. Turning back to the ball, I fixed my gaze, concentrated on keeping my left arm straight and my head down and drew back with all my might. Back around I came with a vengeance, anticipating the solid ping of contact but instead........Whoosh! How could it be? I had missed the ball.
The shocking disbelief of the near miss gave way to a sudden dread the entire group had seen my humiliation.....But no... I glanced back... maybe not. They were still involved with their conversations. One or two perhaps had seen some movement and maybe thought it was a warm-up swing. Yes, that’s it. It was a warm-up swing. I certainly felt warmer.
I just needed to relax a little bit. You know. Shake out the shoulders, wiggle the butt, and reset the feet. Don’t try to kill the ball, just make smooth, solid contact.
I appealed to my inner self, took two deep breaths and became one with the ball. Unfortunately becoming one with the ball was not the same as hitting it.
Whooosh! Damm! I missed again.
I noticed the conversations behind me had stopped and worse, there were a few outright snickers. There’re never gonna buy three warm-up swings. This next one’s gotta be on the money.
I can’t tell you how bad it felt to miss that ball a third time........Whoooosh!
The laughter was loud, as I laid the club back on the ground and walked away, but not nearly loud enough to cover Dave Stockton’s stinging observation, “That’s great Chuck,” he howled, ”You can play golf in your own living room.”
The crowd roared.
I haven’t picked up a club since, and the world’s a better place for it.

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