It's a foggy and uncomfortably cool spring morning as the golf course begins. If these are the conditions that accompany a golfer in his hobby, then it should be a short pleasure for the members of our group. After all, everyone already has the pictures in their mind's eye that show a glorious summer afternoon, where one has to look for a place in the shade rather than put on a thick and warming jacket. But we are far from that at the moment.
At 8 o'clock we are supposed to meet at the square, on a Saturday. But like me, the friends who are taking this course with me are also journalists. People who write for daily newspapers, people who are simply not used to getting up at the crack of dawn. Everyone has struggled out of bed today, no one is really awake yet, the mood is limited. At a loss for words, we wait for Nick, the pro, our course instructor.
Nick is - welcome to the cliché - British and is supposed to guide us through the first real steps to playing good golf. We learn immediately how British Nick is when he joins us for the first time that morning. He comes accompanied by a cup of steaming hot, jet-black tea. "We can't do without it, especially at this time of day," he grins at us after a cheerful "good morning" and takes a sip.
The first day is then marked by regulations, basics and many a joke, with which Nick tries to lighten up the hours with typical dark English humor. And he is a pro at this too, he quickly succeeds, the group thaws and wakes up.
First the bags are inspected: Some already have complete equipment, others are with half sets or even just individual clubs. Nick is satisfied: "At least you can start with that," he comments. "Hit a few balls, then," he wishes.
We are standing on the driving range and are equipped with "free tickets" for the ball machine, which means: we can practice, practice, practice without having to keep feeding the machine with expensive tokens.
So we hit and Nick watches. After a few minutes, he calls everyone together and gives the first resumés, which range from "looks good already" to "we'll have to start from scratch".
Nick shows us the right grip, first one hand then the other closes over it around the club. The club must be secure in the hands, but not gripped tightly like a hammer handle, rather gently "like a little birdie". The orientation of the club head is also important to consider.
For most of us, it's a time to forget previous habits from our pre-course golf days, such as incorrect grip postures that never lead to the desired result, as we quickly learn. And lo and behold, although the posture seems unfamiliar at first, after the grip correction, the balls are already flying a little better, a little farther and tending to go straighter under the eyes of the pro.
"Practice" is now the motto, especially away from the Saturday meetings in the group and with Nick. So from now on, every free minute is spent on the range, and at first only on the range, because we would probably still chop up the courses of the course.
And we already learn the rule that will accompany us for a long time to come: After a good shot - currently a lucky shot - comes many bad ones. More precisely: if a ball flies far and straight once, then you can be sure that the following ones will land in the Carpathians, far to the right or left of the desired line. And far too often, only an insignificant distance from the tee box.
But before you seriously consider selling the expensively purchased equipment again for lack of golfing talent after an unpleasantly large number of failed clubs, there comes another lucky shot like that, which sends the ball flying straight, high and reasonably far.
"There you go," you think to yourself, before the ordeal starts all over again. It's an eternal up-and-down after all. But giving up is not an option. After all, the golf course shouldn't have been in vain.
One thing quickly becomes clear, however: there's still a lot of work to be done before the first round of golf can be completed with a reasonably high head. Let's go.
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