What Golf Taught Me About Being a Man

A couple weeks ago, I went golfing for the first time in about 15 years, and maybe my fourth time ever. I was with Rob, a friend from work who I like who loves to golf who I don’t often get to hang out with. When I asked him if we could go golfing together sometime, he looked at me like I had a divot stuck in my teeth. But he said yes

I drove home alone after work, snarfed some leftovers and rolled out to the golf course. I found Rob on the putting green, he paid my fee (like I said, he’s a really great guy), and we walked out to the first tee.

It did not go well.

I’ve never hit well with a driver. In fact, the farthest ball I ever hit was a fluke when goofing off in my Lifetime Sports class in high school—with a putter. The thing must have gone 150 yards, but I’d never been able to do anything similar with my woods. The first couple holes, I was stinking as usual—I topped the ball and it rolled a few yards. I got a hold of a couple and they sliced and shanked fairly far but not at all in the right direction. And then Rob, the golf guru, spoke.

“You should only be swinging about 80%…”

I stared at him. I was trying to smash. I wanted to slam the ball. I was a hybrid of John Daly and the Hulk. Rob, my Obi Wan of the links, blew my mind.

I lined up over the ball. Got my grip. Bent my knees. Dropped my head. Loosened my shoulders. Brought it back. Flowed through, without forcing it.

Pop! Straight, high, beautiful.

That was the first, but for shot after shot, the rest of the round, I hit the best balls of my very limited golfing career. All I needed to be told was that I can’t try so hard, that I had to let it happen. I’m strong enough without giving it my all. And if I give it all, things go all wonky.