All Beginnings 3: Tasted Blood

Published on   2021-12-13 by Kai

The ball machine at the driving range spits balls into a small green plastic basket, it rattles and colleagues seem to change. With this sound, the end of the day officially begins for them. Until just now, they were still talking about workdays: About problems and conversations that had characterized the past eight hours. That's over now. The colleagues show me some warm-up exercises. As with any sport, you shouldn't hit the ball with cold muscles; strains can quickly end the game before it really begins. The necessity of warming up makes sense to me, but I only participate half-heartedly. After all, I'm only supposed to try it out; it won't put too much strain on my muscles. But my colleagues are attentive. If I didn't sweat at least a little, the risk of injury would be too great. All right, I'll comply, even if it's already annoying.

Then, when the first balls are hit, I'm just a spectator at first: "Look at how you stand, where you place the ball, how you swing the club." I look and marvel, because while one colleague hits every ball cleanly and relatively straight onto the grass, the other has starting problems, one ball flies to the left, the next to the right, there is "hooping" and "slicing." I learn new terms - and also plenty of new swear words. Naturally, the colleague is unhappy. And there's still skepticism: He's been playing golf for years, and yet at first he doesn't want to hit a shot. What's going on? I grin a little. How is he going to teach me the basics when he obviously hasn't mastered them himself?

Very unfamiliar

Because of his starting problems, it's my turn sooner than I expected: "It's easy to grin. Hit your first ball," I'm told. Golf is like many other things: If something doesn't work, it can help to take a step back, regroup and then start the next attempt. And that's why for me it's: stand on the tee, put a ball on the plastic tee, grip the club in the correct way, with fingers partly intertwined, first the left, then the right hand - and off you go. Unfortunately, this sounds much simpler than it really is. The correct golf grip gives me trouble, the position of the two hands, gripping the grip, everything is so unfamiliar that the club seems even more like a foreign object to me than it did earlier with the sledgehammer grip in the parking lot. I'm miles away from making a clean swing. All I'm supposed to do is follow a circular path, past the ball.

The first real tee shot is still a long time coming. And so a tedious procedure follows: The right stance, the right grip, the right swing - taking all of this into account at the same time just doesn't want to succeed. I soon realize why the world's shortest golf joke is "I can do it now." So many muscles are engaged at the same time, unlike almost any other sport, or even any other sport. Just like learning an instrument, movement sequences have to set, muscles have to be able to remember movements without the head having to intervene much.

Individual movement pattern

In addition, the question of how to really do it right cannot really be answered from the outside. Everyone has their own movement pattern on the tee and on the fairway. Some amateur golfers' swings look extremely professional, textbook-like, so to speak, and yet they hit inaccurately, not straight, not far. Others, when they tee off, look like they just had a muscle cramp. But this shot is repeatable and effective. So a "you-must-do-this-so-and-so" can only be a help at the very beginning, to have a foundation to build on. And even that usually doesn't happen the first time you try it out, but only after the decision is made, "Yes, I want to learn that, I want to spend a lot of time doing that in the future."

My colleagues want to go on the small round as soon as possible and so I currently feel like a brake block. I'm holding them up. But they emphasize that it doesn't bother them. After all, they say, everyone has started at some point, and I too should now try for the first time not only to hit the ball, but also to hit it as straight as possible and as far as possible. Anyone who can remember their very first steps on the golf course knows that all beginnings are terrible. That was also the case for me. Air shots seem to be my passion. Inwardly, I'm afraid of hitting the ground; I'm sure the blow to my wrists and arms would hurt quite a bit.

Unknown ambition

And yet I manage to hit the ball more and more often. I wouldn't call it a golf swing, though, and I can't talk about going straight and far. But every now and then I manage to drive the ball forward and let it fly a little. And then I learn how ambitious I can be even in sports activities. That's completely new to me. I realize: I've tasted blood, I want to score more often, I want to chase the ball with an indescribable feeling of happiness. But at the same time I know that it's going to be a long road. And up until that moment, I hadn't even been on a real golf course.

If I had known back then how much effort and sweat it would take, and still takes, to hit the ball reasonably well over the holes, I might have given up again. Fortunately I had no idea...

Previous article in the series: All Beginnings 2: With Prejudices

Next article in the series: All Beginnings 4: The First Courses

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