Interesting experience yesterday: returning to the golf course for the first time in 5, maybe 6 years. When I was a golf professional - feels like a lifetime ago - I was a decent golfer. Nothing spectacular. I was a solid single-digit handicap player, and I enjoyed the game. When I left the golf business to return to graduate school, it was partly because golf was no longer enjoyable. I didn't enjoy playing or practicing.
Yesterday I played the NNU CAA Tournament (Northwest Nazarene University Crusader Athletic Association). My good and long-time friend Brad invited me to play with his team, sponsored by the Northwest Christian Credit Union. In the last 6 years, since being diagnosed with RA, my golf has been severely limited. I may have played in the year after being diagnosed. I was working at Canyon Springs Golf Course in Twin Falls, and played several rounds there. In the last 5 years I've hit two small buckets of balls: one a year ago, and one a week ago.
Playing in the tournament was hard on my ego. Not that I have much of one when it comes to golf. I didn't have high expectations for my game. But being on the course reminded me what I used to be. We played at Centennial, where I worked as an assistant golf pro, and where I've played literally thousands of rounds. Having played so often there, I was able to remember where I used to drive the ball. Now, golf is a whole different game. As an example, I used to play my 8 iron about 155 yards. Now, a really good shot with the 8 is about 100 yards. I used to hit my driver 265-280, with the occasional 300+ yard drive. Now, my best drive is around 200 yards. I used to be able to walk 36 or even 54 holes in a day. Yesterday I walked 9 holes, and my feet were so sore I rode the rest of the way. It was difficult to remember the player I used to be.
But I was also encouraged. I hit most of my drives pretty straight - a few of them were really well struck. My irons were in play, some even close enough that we used my shot (we were playing a scramble). And I was putting well, even making a couple of putts for the team.
More encouraging still, I was able to slip back into the mental part of the game so easily. I remembered my course management skills. I was able to accurately read greens and give advice to my teammates on the best way to play the holes. I would guess that if I had played my own ball, I probably would have broken 100, which is good for not having played for so long.
I think I'll get back on the course, soon. My sister and brother-in-law both play, so I'd like to go out with them sometime. Brad, my bro-in-law's brother Dave would like to play too, so I might go with them. And I have still have some friends in the golf business, so there are several places I can play for free. I won't be playing as many rounds as I used to and probably never will. Some years I played 150 rounds or more. But if I can play 5 or 6 times this year, I'd be a happy golfer.
On a health note, the infection that I thought was clearing up, has returned in full force. My quiet hoarse voice has disappeared again and I'm back to just whispering. I was able to email my doctor in SLC who suggested that I need some stronger antibiotics. I'll be going to my ENT here in town to see about a new prescription.
Despite setbacks and some areas of personal growth, I'm still quite content. There are things I would change if I could, but overall ... I lead a blessed a life with good friends, supportive family, and a God who loves me perfectly.