Get A Grip

It might have been spring, more like early summer,
when I took my sons, the elder and the younger,
to Woodhaven in Pendleton, a golf course, Par 3,
which for the uninitiated is a golf analogy
for a course made up of eighteen short holes.
No need for a driver – these holes need short poles.
A pitching wedge, 9-iron, maybe an 8 or a 7;
for the short game enthusiast this course is your heaven.

It’s a favorite spot for the golf ingenue.
Did I mention that the missus went along, too?
We thought it time for the boys to learn
about golf, so to an expert we turned.
Clint Wright, owner-operator of Woodhaven’s greens,
is who would sculpt our sons’ golfing dreams.

They were twelve or thirteen, mere adolescents,
when we decided to take them there for lessons.
At that age, they’re too young and not very focused.
Let ’em play the game some, Mr. Wright told us.

Then, if they like it and want more of the same,
we’ll tutor them in the finer points of the game.
I’ll teach them basic techniques; you’ll add the fun,
and together their pursuit of golf will have begun.

“But while we’re here,” I said, “Let’s enjoy the day.”
So, the four of us agreed to stay and play.
We paid, grabbed a cart and got in line.
The place was packed, the weather, simply divine.

Clemson students were just about everwhere,
laughing and talking with nary a care.
We waited our turn, mom and golfers three,
until we were the next group on the first tee.

It was then we noticed a class being conducted.
About 18 or 20 were being instructed
immediately to the right of the first fairway.
Within our range, we were tempted to say!

Matt was first on the tee and into his waggle,
surveying his target, as well as the gaggle
of interested students, now standing and gawking.
His downswing was fluid and then he started walking.

But wait!  Something had gone terribly wrong!
That tiny white ball was still on its throne!
The club, however, had left the vicinity.
It circled overhead, almost hitting a tree.

With a clang, it landed on a nearby wooden deck.
A gentleman got up, retrieved the club, and said, “Heck,
nice shot, son, but it is time that you now learn,
you get to swing this club again…it’s still your turn!”

Running back to his ball, and with all eyes on him,
Matt proceeded to go through all those motions again.
With everyone focused on this particular swing,
He did the most amazing thing…

His ball, not the club, was sent in lofty flight,
right down the middle of the fairway, all right.
Despite all the stares, snickers and jeers,
Matt had somehow turned their derision to cheers.

He could have succumbed to the pressures that built,
but he steeled himself, focused, and did not wilt.
Blocking the harsh scrutiny, Matt wouldn’t give in;
that ball was a-movin’ this time, my friend!

As Andy approached the tee, there was great apprehension.
After what had just happened, there was still a lot of tension.
He teed his ball, did his waggle and then,
as if to ease everyone’s nerves…he grinned.

Andy’s swing was simple, powerful and straight.
Everyone turned to the fairway, to watch the ball’s fate.
But where’s the ball?…Oh, where?  Does anyone see?
Nope.  That dang ball is still sitting on the tee!

But Andy’s weapon…the club… has ceased to be seen,
unless you looked up into the sky so blue and serene.
It was spinning, flipping and flopping its way
down the bisected middle of that first fairway!

Everyone erupted in surprised shouts and laughter.
Andy took off running: It was his club he was after.
Retrieving the club, he ran all the way back,
and prepared to unleash his second whack.

But this time, by George, you could hear a pin drop!
The class, the course, the whole world had stopped.
Everyone was holding their breath on this swing,
when Andy also did an amazing thing…

With the crowd mesmerized in one collective stare,
he proceeded to bring his club through the air.
Amazingly enough, the ball left the tee!
And split that fairway, so perfectly.

A drive straight and true, after so much commotion,
was a credit to Andy’s intense devotion.
Again, a son had seen calamity arrive,
but recovered his dignity with a very nice drive.

Finally our round was underway,
but what could have caused such confounded play?
We pondered and wondered, while Mom just sat there.
Alone with her thoughts, some she didn’t want to share.

It had come to her remembrance, she later said,
that in trying to do good, had she done bad instead?
Knowing this outing meant so much to these two,
realizing how much the boys had to do,
and wanting their used clubs to shine like new,
Nancy had scrubbed their grips until she was blue.

Scrub-a-dub-dub, ’til the tacky was gone.
She felt particularly proud as we pulled away from home.
But now, could it be that I’ve messed up those grips?
And, in addition to cleaning, I gave them the slips!?

Sad, but true, it seems.  Mom was right on the money.
So slippery, I couldn’t have held those clubs, honey!
Clean they were, sanitized to the hilt,
but grips are tacky, ’cause that’s the way they are built.

You have to be able to hold onto the sticks,
or those extra swings will leave your game in a fix.
As these boys witnessed before us all,
a club isn’t supposed to outdistance the ball!

But before you think we wasted our time,
let me tell you what happened while on the back nine.
As the boys played their way through this first golfing trip,
trying to find their strokes, but with a vice-like grip,
given all that had happened on that very first hole,
when Tiger himself would have slung a pole,

drama still awaited, mid the gathering gloom,
for golf’s a strange game, the boys would learn soon.
On their final hole, in the failing light,
Andy hit it left; then, he hit it right.

Fearing he couldn’t find either ball,
he teed and hit a provisional.
(That’s a do-over, for you uninitiated;
when you don’t hit the shot you anticipated.)
Back into the carts we settled our butts,
and rode to the green for what we thought would be three putts.

Andy was right; the first two balls went awry.
The third wasn’t in sight either, and do you know why?
For all the lessons this day would bring,
the boys would witness one more amazing thing…

That third shot had settled neatly into the hole.
An ace!  Hole in one!…for one and all to behold!
(Now, golfers, we know that an ace that can’t be.
So, on his scorecard, we had to put down a three.)

An afternoon that began with comic relief
had ended with a most miraculous feat.
Such is golf, for those of us who play.
It’s a three-ring circus, just about every day.

So you who are about to try this fine game,
be forewarned: It is hard, but fun just the same.
It’s highs and lows will oft make you grumble,
but this gentleman’s game definitely keeps one humble.

The people you meet and the joys you’ll share,
rival any other sport, but before you get there,
learn the game, it’s equipment and manners, too.
And, please get a grip…or I’ll be writing about you!

Steve Alexander
April 11, 2008

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 4th, 2009 at 10:46 pm and is filed under Family. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.