Have you ever had to give up something you love dearly? Something that you thought you would always have? Something that would always just feel right to you?
When I was about 5 years old, my grandparents got me my first set of golf clubs. Soon after I got my clubs, I started golfing. At first, I never took the game too seriously. I had sporadic golf lessons with random instructors. I went golfing with my grandparents and my dad at my local courses. I planned on golfing for my high school when I was a freshman, but I changed my mind right before the school year started. I didn’t have much confidence in my game, and I was completely unnerved at the thought of meeting the girls who would have been my teammates.
I remember sitting in homeroom my freshman year and hearing about the two girls who did golf and being jealous-- not of their success, but of the fact that they got to go out every day and golf and have fun and new experiences. The spring of that year, I decided I was going to golf as a sophomore, nerves and lack of confidence be damned. Let me tell you, that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Through my three years as a high school golfer, I helped my team to a sixth place finish in state, an eighth place finish in state, and a third place finish in state from my sophomore to senior years. That third place finish in state made school history. No other girls’ golf team had brought home a state title and trophy. Now, I know titles and making history aren’t the most important things in the world, but I’m extremely proud of them.
More important to me than our success is the relationships I had with my teammates and my golf coaches. I owe them so much. They all helped me grow in some way or another. They helped me become the golfer I wanted to be when I decided I was going to take it seriously and play high school golf. They helped me come out of my shell a little more. They helped me make memories I will forever cherish.
They helped me discover my deep, deep love of golf.
I’m very thankful for that. I am. But now it causes a lot of sadness when I think of golf and everything I had to leave behind when I said goodbye to golf.
My senior year was plagued by a wrist injury. To be technical-- two tears in my triangular fibrocartilage complex. I managed to get through the season with therapy, multiple doctor’s visits, a couple hundred Advil, and lots of heat and ice, which is part of the reason why that third in state finish means so much to me. When the season ended, I underwent an operation to have the tears repaired. Unfortunately, it either didn’t work too well, I tore it again pretty quickly, or my wrist is just still extremely weak because it didn’t get any better. The fact that my other wrist was starting to hurt in the exact same way was also a bit troublesome. So, as I was beginning my sophomore year of college golf, I decided it was time to call it quits. That was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do. Just thinking about the conversation I had with a golf coach, who was more like a part of my family than just a coach, almost makes me burst into tears.
Now, every time I’m on a road trip or just driving around the outskirts of town and see long, thick, tan grass or even wheat, I think of our state tournament course. It had this God-awful prairie grass that I always seemed to get stuck in. I hated it when I played the course, but now whenever I see grass that reminds me of it, I get super nostalgic and I almost tear up. I would give anything to get stuck in that grass again.
Over spring break, I went to a spring training game in Arizona with my aunt and cousin. I was really excited about it. That is, until I stepped out on the short, rough, brownish green grass of the soccer field we parked on (we were supposed to park there, by the way). I know this sounds bizarre, but I immediately flashed back to this awful course my team and I played multiple times. I flashed back to our regional win there, how happy we were, how happy I was, and I felt this pang partly in my chest and partly in stomach. I had to blink away tears and shake off the feeling so I wouldn’t turn into a ball of emotion right there in front of my family. (Once I got my mind off golf, I was OK and was able to enjoy myself, FYI.)
Also over spring break, I went to a place called Top Golf, which is sort of like a driving range and sort of like a golf version of bowling. It’s hard to explain, but the point is, I knew my family was going to be swinging golf clubs and basically hitting at a driving range. I went into it expecting to be in a pretty down mood, but I tried swinging a club and even hit a few balls for the first time in a year and a half. I can’t even explain how much it meant to me to hold a golf club, much less hit a ball. I mean, golf is so sacred to me that I was shaking when I picked up the freaking club in the first place that it was ridiculous. I walked away from Top Golf that night pretty sore, both in an achey, injury kind of sore with my wrists and a sore muscle kind of sore with the rest of my body, and nearly giddy.
The next day, I kept finding different parts of the muscles in my hands, arms, stomach, and sides that were sore. My hands were rubbed a little raw too since all of my old golf calluses healed quite a while ago. I cherished that soreness and even the rawness of my hands. It made me feel alive in a way that I haven’t in a long time. Now that the sore muscle feeling is gone, I desperately want to go back out to a driving range or maybe even to a course to try to play a whole or two to get the soreness back.
I know I’ll never be able to play as much golf as I used to. I might not ever be able to play a hole 18 holes at one time again-- definitely not 27 or 36, which I did do sometimes when I was in high school.
But that’s OK as long as I can get out and play a little, even a hole at a time would be better than nothing at all.
I crave the feeling of a golf club in my hands, the feel of the green under my feet, and the sound of the driver hitting the golf ball just right.
I crave the feeling of euphoria that comes from a trip to the golf course or the driving range, not the sadness that comes every time I see or hear something about golf, so I’m going to do what I can to keep golf in my life.