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This weekend I took another walk around the Richland Park Greenway Trail and, knowing what to expect this time, I stopped to watch the players on the McCabe Golf Course. The trail goes all around the golf course, which seems like an odd choice for a walking trail, although I guess maintaining a wooded area provides a buffer for the surrounding houses so they’re less likely to get hit by stray golf balls.

My freshman year of high school my parents decided I should take part in some school sport and, not having played anything else aside from a brief baseball career in first grade, I went for the golf team. I don’t remember how I found the golf coach but I do remember that he was approximately eight feet tall and bore a striking resemblance to Boris Karloff. But he gave me a short reassuring speech about how the golf team had enough players already but that if I didn’t mind riding in the back of the truck I could come along on Wednesday’s practice.

Wednesday I dragged my bag of golf clubs to school and confirmed with the coach that we’d meet up in the lobby after the last class. When I got to the lobby it was empty. I went out to the parking lot and looked around. There were a few compacts in the parking lot—for some reason none of the school’s principals drove full size cars. After waiting in the lobby for another fifteen minutes I checked the other two parking lots, which were empty.

The next day I dropped by the golf coach’s classroom.

“Well, where were you?” he yelled at me. “We waited and waited for you, Derek even went to the lobby and looked for you!”

With the benefit of a few decades of hindsight I realize this was bullshit. They forgot I was coming and left me stuck at school without a way home.

The next Wednesday was a repeat.

The third Wednesday I rode in the back of the truck for what seemed like an hour and a half—Google Maps tells me it’s about twenty minutes from my school to McCabe—but at least it was a sunny day and pretty warm even for September.

At the course I realized the other guys had fancy padded golf bags with shiny new clubs. I had a hand-me-down set in a peeling leather bag. They were also dressed like, well, golfers—green and red Izod shirts, blinding white slacks, yellow visors, shoes with spikes. I was still wearing my school clothes: button down shirt, jeans, sneakers.

In unison they stepped up to the tees and made perfect swings. I stepped up, selected a club, put my head down, concentrated.

“Hit the ball, Chris! Play fast, you’ve gotta play fast!” the coach yelled at me.

I jerked and hit the ball and it went an impressive six feet.

The rest of the practice went downhill, even when we were going uphill. Surprisingly the other guys were nice—or maybe they just felt sorry for me, and a few times they gave me tips or offered to let me try one of their clubs before the coach came and yelled at us for not going fast enough. I’ve never thought of golf as a speed game but the coach had his own idea of how to spoil a good walk.

I never returned to the golf team after that, and, in fact, forgot they even existed until my senior year when my friend Travis joked that he was going to try out to be a cheerleader. There was a hierarchy of cheerleaders with the best ones cheering for the football team, the second string working basketball, then baseball, and so on down the line.

When I asked Travis how the tryouts had gone he said “I’m a golf team cheerleader!” And I thought, hey, maybe I should join the team again.

Source: makeagif

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  1. Moonwatcher51

    I tried field hockey in high school. Too much running and getting my shins bashed with hard sticks. When I took up golf, I wasn’t too bad. I can hit balls really well. I really dislike having to hustle to keep up with the group in front and not hold up the group behind. It does ruin a nice walk.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The hustle of keeping up with one group and not holding up another group really can be annoying. If I go out to a golf course to hit balls around I’d rather be out there completely alone so I’m not inconveniencing anyone. Although a funny thing is I was out golfing with my parents once and there was a young woman just taking a stroll around the course–not playing, walking. We stopped playing to let her go on by. Then one of the course managers came by and yelled at us for not moving along fast enough.

  2. Arionis

    This reminds me of the time I joined the tennis team in high school. Years earlier, I had taken a summer course offered by the city for tennis and thought I was pretty good. What I didn’t know is that pretty much the entire tennis team at my high school was made of country club rich kids that had professional tennis coaches. In order to play other schools you had to play games against the people on your own team and maintain a certain rank. Let’s just say I never played in any intermural school matches. Unlike the kids on your golf team, mine were jerks and consistently made fun of me and my buddy who I had convinced to join with me. I once scored a single point against the guy who was #1 ranked on our team and I counted it as a Wimbledon win!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That practically is a Wimbledon win! And even if it’s not it’s fantastic that you scored a point against a jerk. The guys on the golf team seemed nice enough but I think what they really felt was deep, deep pity. And also the thing about golf is you’re not really playing against another person. Golf is all about focus and concentration in the moment and making your best shot without having to worry about somebody on the other side hitting it right back to you. Tennis takes focus and concentration, and also strength and speed, but the competition is much more direct.

  3. M.L. James

    People can be sooo….hmm…well, I’m going to be nice and not say. So whatever they can be, glad you lived to tell the tale! Mona

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Mona, the best thing I can say about my experience with the high school golf team is that some of the people involved were really nice and others…not so much. But there’s a silver lining to every cloud, and my golf team tryout convinced my parents, who’d insisted that I needed to play a sport, that I was just not an athlete. So I was free to pursue other things.


    That golf coach wasn’t playing the fairway, Chris, I’m sorry he was so rough on you, he sounds like a real Bogey-man, and that’s the extent of my knowledge of golf terms. This is reminding me of one of the benefits of having a congenital heart condition — I didn’t have to take gym and nobody expected me to play sports at school!
    ANN J KOPLOW recently posted…Day 3771: A sense of purposeMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Not having to take gym and not being expected to play sports is a surprising but excellent benefit! I also consider myself lucky that my failed attempt at joining the golf team convinced my parents, who’d pushed me to play one sport in high school, that I was just not an athlete. I joined the Science Club instead, but that’s another story.


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