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August 20, 2013 8:30 am

Column Like I See ‘Em: Birdies, eagles and bunnies — oh no!

Written by Dante Geoffrey

I really should be a lot better at golf.

I’m sure a lot of people share this thought, and I’m sure most of them are wrong. But, really, I can’t be this bad.

I played my third (nine-hole) round of golf Sunday and, yikes, that was rough (come on Dante, no puns), um, the opposite of smooth.

Out of 27 holes, I have made one par, two bogeys, and 24 other scores that are best left unpublished. To put it in perspective, if each hole’s score could play my floundering, run-starved San Francisco Giants every day, I’d have an .800 winning percentage.

And even more depressing, I was tremendously proud of that lone par. As I knew my 9-foot putt was about to drop I cocked my arm back for what was going to be an overexcited fist pump, but then stopped myself and instead executed a much-too-self-aware arm flail.

From the tee box to the post-putt celebration, I have a lot of work to do.

The first rule of golf (after “avoid overly friendly diner waitresses”) is “keep your head down.” For some reason, I cannot pull this off. After my first two rounds, I made a mental note to myself. Above all else, keep your head down.

Nope, couldn’t do it.

Why is this so hard for me? My head is down — both physically and metaphorically — in literally everything else I do: eating, sleeping, walking, texting, driving, texting while driving, talking to girls, etc.

Yet while golfing I have an overpowering urge to make my eyes beat my ball to its inevitable landing spot near the weeds. (For the record, my eyes always win.)

I’m starting to think those three months of golf lessons I took when I was 12 are wearing off.

My grandmother, who always worried I’d wreck my body playing football, bought me clubs and lessons to steer me into a nice, safe, infuriating sport.

She could have saved herself hundreds of dollars and myself hours of frustration if only she knew I would (a) develop chronic back problems by 21 without ever crossing the path of a middle linebacker and (b) deftly avoid the interest of high school football coaches by being a 6-foot-1 high school senior who weighed 140 pounds (backpack full of textbooks included).

I played semi-consistently for a year or two before other activities (reorganizing football cards, having acne, sulking) shifted my attention away from golf.

Now, some dozen years later I find myself intrigued by the slower pace, fresh air and green scenery — aka, “greenery.” Also, I’ve somehow gotten to a point in my life where I consider walking nine holes to be decent exercise.

Oh! And the bunnies! Why don’t all Powell Golf Club ads say “WE HAVE BUNNIES!”? If I wasn’t sure it was illegal (and just downright weird) I’d camp on hole No. 4 to live amongst the resident rabbits like some sort of unscientific Jane Goodall.

And though that kind of admission might understandably make people wonder about me; I’ve been nothing but accepted into the seemingly insular sport of golf.

The only reason I can play is because of the generosity of my fellow Tribunites. My employer, Dave Bonner, has lent me a gorgeous set of clubs that I am absolutely doing no justice.

But clubs alone wouldn’t be enough to get me to the course. The patience of my friends, who don’t mind that I spend most of my time searching for lost balls and swallowing gluttonous mouthfuls of curse words, has made my comeback possible.

My friends, the esteemed CJ Baker of last summer’s hole-in-one fame, and Kevin Kinzley, whose drives travel about three times the length of mine, offer me tips, encouragement and the occasional beer.

The best example of how well I’ve been treated happened just two days ago. After playing nine holes, during which I shot a gentleman’s 74, Baker described my play as “a little inconsistent.”

Baker, the words “little” and “inconsistent” would like to have a word with you.

What’s inconsistent is my diet during the days I’ve hit the links.

Before golf (when I’m cheery and optimistic): fruit, granola, peanut butter sandwich.

After (comfort food): I’m currently on pizza slice number four. Just five more to go to equal my slices on the course.

And yet, I can’t wait to get back out there. For one, I have all those pizza calories to burn off with my grueling “Now one foot, now the other” workout. More importantly, I have to train myself to keep my head down. If not for golf, at least so I don’t miss any of those bunnies.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link August 25, 2013 4:49 am posted by Steve Moseley

    Fun column. I myself once contracted a severe case of golf, but they have pills so I'm over it now. I don't know how good CJ is these days, but I promise his dad was a stick back when.

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