Saturday, March 5, 2011

Golf Gypsy: Orchestrating the Swing

I felt the quiver and tremble on the practice tee that first day in La Quinta. No earthquakes were reported, but I knew my body had made a seismic shift from the bitter cold winds of Kansas to the warmth and sunshine of the Coachella Valley. My body was stretched from pilates and was warming on the practice tee with the sun on my back.

My practice routine is simple: stretch and warm up those muscles first; then swing the short clubs and listen for the swish of the club sweeping the rye green grass; only then do I advance to hitting a practice ball. I enjoy watching the arc of my golf ball when it's struck solidly by a short iron. Once I'm comfortable with the rhythm of my short shots, my body and head orchestrate the music for the day. Singing simple songs to a four/four rhythm clears out those negative words and keeps other thoughts from tangling up my swing. Yes, words can reek havoc on a golf swing.

At last my body is ready for the big swings of my woods. Instead of the beauty of persimmon woods my eyes now watch geometry in motion. My 5 medal wood (what ironic wording) is a 3D triangular shape with the base being large enough to make solid contact with the ball and the tip pointing along the target line. The 3 medal wood is square, who would have thought a square club could work so well. But my medal Driver is the beauty in the bag. Her black sheen glimmers in the sunlight and her shape is like the waxing moon, threatening to return. Oh, does she shatter the silence when she strikes the ball squarely. The new medal clubs nearly create their own band of music on the golf course. Even errant shots off the heel of the clubs broadcast sharps and zingers off key.
Palm trees can keep a ball forever!

The last stage for practice comes on the sloped putting green where my eyes notice the shade design of the palm trees standing nearly still as sentries guarding the tee box. For a time my mind and eyes wonder. I gaze toward the dry rocky mountains, and then to the south where the mountains disappear and the Salton Sea captures the desert. I hear in my mind, "All putts break to Indio." Indio is a small town on the way to the Salton Sea and seems to be a more rhythmical rather than mythical answer to missed putts.

I bend over with putter in hand and drop three balls onto the putting green, one "pinkie" and two nondescript white balls. Playing golf with colored balls is like filling the pages of a coloring book when a child doesn't always stay within the lines. They give me just a little lift! Sometimes "pinkie", as my balls take on nicknames, travels 18 holes and returns to the bag, but in time even "pinkie" strays out of the lines and finds the mesquite bushes, tall grasses, desert cactus, or fresh streams of water.

I laugh in my mind as I write for here on paper, as on the golf course, my mind rambles and I digress from putting. On the green, sometimes the putter pings just right and I know my ball will remain true to the line. In golf as in theatre there are interludes, and for whatever reasons my rhythm changes and my putter sounds dull as it thunks the ball too softly to reach the hole. The ball rolls nearer the hole but not near enough, so I putt again.

Letty, Peggy, and Manon on PGA West.
Suddenly, my friends call from the tee, "let's play golf." I pick up my balls and saunter to the tee box. Game on.

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