Sunday, June 7, 2015

Golf is Hard

You may know that I used to be a golf professional (not a professional golfer - there is a difference). I worked at a local course, teaching lessons, taking green fees, rerounding carts, etc. I left the golf business to return to graduate school, and when I did my time spent playing golf decreased.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the golf became even more scarce. I'm sure at one point I went more than 2 years without touching my clubs. Now, I'm back to playing again. I play 3 or 4 times per year now. And my game is a LOT different than it used to be. I no longer know how far I can hit a club. I have to swing more slowly, and more weakly, because my hand strength is so restricted by the RA. My stiff joints also affect my range of motion.

And yet, I'm back to enjoying the game. I have fun now. I lost that feeling for a long time. It's not about the score anymore; it's about being with people I enjoy, smelling the newly cut grass, feeling the solid contact of ball and club, listening to the sound of the ball in the hole.

Friday I played (for the second time this year) in the NNU Legends of Golf tournament. Since we were playing a scramble format I knew there wouldn't be much pressure on me. I could play easy and let the other guys hit the aggressive shots. However, I ended up hitting the ball harder than I should have. Somewhere in the first few holes, I hurt my left arm. Thinking back, I can't identify the particular shot that caused the injury. I probably should have stopped after the first 5 or 6 holes, definitely should have stopped after the first 9, and did stop with three holes left, just putting on those holes. Those last three holes, I couldn't even hold the club. I had to putt one handed on the last hole because the pain in my left arm was so great.

At the end of the round I could see the swelling in my arm. It wasn't until Saturday night that I realized how significant the injury was/is.

That is an arm-size bruise - all the way from my wrist to my elbow. Pretty isn't it?

I can't turn my hand to the outside, I have no grip strength, and I can't rest that arm on anything.

I will definitely play golf again this year, although it might be a few months before I try again. And next time, I'm going to remind myself to swing easier, grip more lightly, and protect my body. If you're my playing partner next time, please remind me of these instructions.

As for the tournament - we won a dozen golf balls for finishing in 3rd Net. Of course they're yellow golf balls and I don't know if I can play with yellow golf balls - but still, we won something.

On a completely different note, I was also teaching a graduate counseling course this weekend. As a former school counselor, I enjoy being able to interact with the next generation of school counselors. I'm confident that these future school counselors are going to impact students, families, schools and communities in an amazingly positive way. They are a great group of capable, insightful, passionate students. I'm so proud to have played a small part in their education and growth as counselors.

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