“A Golfer has to train his swing on the practice tee, then trust it on the course” – Dr Bob Rotella – Golf Psychologist, who apparently puts the ‘Par’ in ‘Par excellence’
As a beginner you are constantly told that your place on the golf course lies a little behind the first tee. Actually, a lot behind the first tee. Keep going back…back…back till the first tee begins to look like an accidental divot on the fairway of life…a little further back…there you are.
The Driving Range.
Where you belong.
The Driving Range: A place where your murderous shanks can be excused as would the delirious ramblings of an underage teenager after his first introductory meeting with Messrs Johnny and Jack (or Mr Walker and Mr Daniels respectively, should you choose to be formal).
The Driving Range: A place where miracles happen at par with feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread. Except in this instance it’s more akin to turning 5,000 slices into 5 strokes.
The Driving Range: A place where a man can truly be free to be the poor excuse of a golfer he truly is without fear of being looked at as the dredge of mankind. Where he can truly let loose the most almighty of slices without fear of a disapproving glance, save that from a nearby eagle that had to make an emergency change in its immediate trajectory to avoid the very real possibility that it may never terrorize the village rooster again.
Except it isn’t completely true.
Thing is, as a beginner, even on the range there’s constant reminders of exactly how rubbish you are at this golf lark.
Take for example the distance boards. If, like my driving range, your driving range has distance markers, you quickly come to realize that this is really the equivalent of the length of a condom…you’d like to think that you’re fairly adequate in the length department but the lingering question remains: They have a board that reads 300 yards. Ergo, the expectation is that someone gets to the board. All of a sudden your 150 yards with a driver doesn’t seem like the ripper you initially thought it was. Similar to…well…y’know…(Analogy used for narrative effect. No, really).
It also doesn’t help that most Driving Ranges are open to all. I mean I don’t consider myself to be discriminatory in the least. I’m the least discriminatory man on earth, except maybe with regard to people who wear sandals with socks. But I digress.
No the problem with an open to all driving range is the inherent possibility that one of these is going to rock up right next to you:
- A golfer who should have been a pro, but instead decided to settle for playing awesome golf, marrying a model, raking in money in the financial markets and, in his part-time, working towards a cure for cancer. This specimen can be identified by the effortless way he swings, without so much as a second thought to technique or a passing nod to complexity of correct stance, resulting in the slightest of whispers as his cultured six iron catapults the ball into a graceful trajectory far beyond what your mortal driver could possibly fantasize of in its wildest of wet dreams. Bast*rd.
- A kid. Chances are said kid has only been playing for about a year of his 6 year existence. But, in all probability, he’s either already better at it than you are or ever will be, or will shortly be so. An easy gliding swing helped along by youthful flexibility, usually accompanied by a straight shot with commensurate distance. Oh and the deadpan, lack of excitement after a clearly brilliant shot, as if to say ‘Meh…I could do this all day’. The part that really rankles is when you shank your 13th shot running and the afore-mentioned kid stops to look at you in wonderment that any human being can struggle at this game. Occasionally they also take out their mobile phones to film your struggles for youtube. Captioned: Lolololololololest
- The golfer who started playing at the same time as you but is now into his handicap teens. Never a good sight. The look of pity given to you, similar to how you would look at a three legged puppy valiantly trying to keep pace with its other more able cousins. The effort is commendable but you can’t help but wish the puppy would just stop and slink away from view…
- The veteran. But not just any veteran…one who insists that you need their help. Always with the suggestion on your stance or grip or club type or even the balance of weight vis a viz belt buckles or suspenders (in fairness that’s just the ONE particular veteran with a trouser suspension fixation). I don’t mind this so much, its just that after a series of veterans have been and suggested, I feel the only way to accommodate all of their various suggestions would be to somehow become double-jointed with motorized hips floating above the ball having had a sex-change operation.
All in all, sometimes the Driving Range isn’t the most welcoming of spaces. Having said that, it’s not like we golf-challenged individuals have much by way of choice.
We need a place where we can be in our element (said element being Uselessness, usually abbreviated to KaK) while we work tremendously hard at moving upwards on the golfing ladder towards the promised land: The Land of Straight Drives and Holed Long Distance Putts.
I’ve never personally been to this promised Land of Straight Drives and Holed Long Distance Putts (in the process of applying for a visa, as it were), but I am assured by every single one of the people I have mentioned above that it exists.
And until that beacon light shines guiding me to this promised land, much like the blinding light of a lighthouse to a ship lost at sea, I have no option but to keep returning to the ego castrator that is The Driving Range.