It is that time of year when most golfers are getting back on the course. While I've been back on the course for a couple months, it's time for me to recount my road back to the course on a regular basis. This time last year I had just had knee surgery and was essentially counting down the hours until I escaped an in bed rehabilitation facility. What should have been a somewhat easy straightforward path was a long and winding journey. I remain blessed to have my bride, Martha, by my side. She is still my "tech" support. With her assistance, I will endeavor in the upcoming posts to recount my rehab journey in a positive way that is filled with love, light, and laughter.
Thus far, 2021 has been all about taking baby steps. Sticking with this idea, I will be sharing a set of posts that recap this year. As the saying goes in any sport, it's a physical, mental, and emotional game. Golf is no different. And, that's life. Pictured to the left is just four weeks of the tale I am about to tell. Thank you to everyone who has helped me stick to my baby steps.
Pictured above are two images from the Locust Hills Golf Club in Dayton, Ohio.
Over the years, I've met a lot of nice people playing golf. The gentleman I met last week at The Golf Club at Terra Lago stands out as one of my most memorable encounters. I saw a guy moving carts and called out: "Where do I return my cart?" He replied: "I'll take you to your car and bring it back down." When he got to my cart, he asked: "When were you there?" He had seen my "Disabled Vietnam Veteran" ball cap. I told him. "Me, too." he said. " Where were you stationed?" When I told him, he said, "I know exactly where that is." The guy told me that I am only the third veteran he'd met who was in Vietnam at the same time he was.
By the time we reached my car, I learned the name of this Indio veteran. He is David. That's all I know other than he is a fellow veteran, delighted to meet another person who shares a similar military experience.
David went on to tell me about how it came to pass that he was in the U.S. Navy. He got the "certificated letter" in the mail, aka. the draft letter. David explained that before he opened the letter, he went to the recruiting station. The U.S. Air Force guy wasn't talking about anything that interested him. There was no U.S. Marine there that day. Then, he saw the U.S. Navy recruiter kicked back in his chair, drinking coffee, and reading a magazine. David told me, "I said to myself: 'Looks like a job for me.'" He shared with me that he was in Vietnam during the last days, helping evacuate people. "That was tough duty," David said.
As I closed the tailgate, I gave David a pen with my contact information and thanked him for his service. I invited, "Call me if you ever want to talk, David." it wasn't about business, just about two veterans staying in touch.
Without golf, I would not have met David from Indio. While golf is always good, meeting a fellow veteran and sharing a moment in time made the day very special.
As usual, Palm Springs was a wonderful sojourn. Yet, like most journeys, not everything went according to plan. I really intended to play Muroc Lake Golf Course at Edwrds' Air Force Base first. However, 55 degrees with a breeze was a bit much to ask my bride to endure. We also passed up playing a couple courses after stopping for lunch in Morongo Valley. Let's face it, our bellies were a little too full after hitting the seafood buffet at the casino. Therefore, I didn't hit get the clubs out of the car until Thursday morning.
Sticking somewhat to my plan, I went to Desert Dunes Golf Club. The course is a favorite because it is near where we normally stay in Desert Hot Springs. It was as good as I remembered it. Not only did I play it on Thursday, I went back on Saturday. Another reason to keep this course on the list is that they offer a veteran-friendly discount.
On Friday, I did try something new, The Golf Club at Terra Lago South Course. I was surprised that the course was not very busy. Out of my week, I had my best round here. Was it not having a group of players to distract me? Or, was it because I played my first round in weeks at a familiar venue the previous day? As I sometimes say: don't know, don't care. All I know is that I got to play a terrific course for a reasonable price and scored well. I was done in time to take a shower and a nap before meeting my bride for evening activities.
Muroc lake Golf Course was worth the wait and a fun way to spend St Patrick's Day morning. The green fee sported a free lunch as long as we ordered by 1:00pm. When I started this trek, I thought the course might be as rusty as my game initially appeared. Yet, it was in good shape. Beyond the game, it was great having my bride along to drive my cart. On the front nine, we joined a threesome. One them had his wife driving his cart as well. At the turn, we somehow lost the threesome. On the back nine, we met up with a U.S. Air Force mechanic from Hawaii. We had a great time talking about a place we all can call home.
Some say they are golf widows. Others say they are educator widowers. Spring Break brings my bride and I are together again. We are making our annual sojourn to Palm Springs. While my bride enjoys the Spring CUE Conference, it's time for me to begin my 2019 golf season in earnest.
My first course of the Spring Season will actually be on Edwards Air Force Base, Muroc Lake Golf Course.
Not only is spring the time for me to ease back into the game, golf courses are warming up as well. Therefore, both player and course can accept each other just as we are, a bit rusty. That said, there will still be a give and take of challenges. Of course, Murdoc Lake is always a good course to play when passing through Antelope Valley.
After a morning on the course at Edwards Air Force Base, we will take a leisurely drive to Indio, California. Yes, I know. I said we are going to Palm Springs. The conference is in Palm Springs. Yet, the golf is everywhere.
From Downtown Palm Springs to Desert Hot Springs, to Indio and all points inbetween, the Greater Palm Springs area sports a multitude of reasonably priced places to stay. The trick is booking early. Regardless of where my bride and I stay, I have had good luck booking tee times using GolfNow.com or TeeOff.com.
So our bags are packed and we are ready to go. Let the golf season begin.
If you take a close look, you might see that my last post was a year ago. Why is that? When my bride, Martha, is on vacation during June and July, we set goals, make plans, and such. Then, she goes back to woking with the 8th graders, leaving this 6th grader to his own devices. Now, periodically, "Tech Support," aka. Martha, and I set a daily goal to work on our respective websites. Then, mysteriously, we are off to the golf course or a movie, and nothing happens here. Recently, both Martha and I have been exploring why that is.
In golf, taking a mulligan means: "A mulligan is a second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Its best-known meaning is in golf, whereby a player is informally allowed to replay a stroke, even though this is against the formal rules of golf. " To my way of thinking, it says I am going to "cheat" on this hole; not follow the rules.
During our recent travels, I played golf several times in 7,792 miles. Martha drove the cart, took pictures, and kept my score. As always she put a smiley face underneath my score on a hole where I earned par. Such notes go in what she calls "Comments." At times, I'd hit a bad shot. If there's no one on my heels, I'll hit another shot to remind myself of what a good shot is. While I would want to play the first shot for score, sometimes Martha insisted I play that second ball; take the mulligan.
Martha has known me 28-years. She knows that I typically say at the end of a bad shot: "That's not like me." Playing the second shot, the mulligan, is the action that reinforces what is "like me," the good golf shot.
Even though I'm still for following the rules, in a designated practice, on vacation, give yourself a break; have a good time, and don't worry about posting the score.
7,792 miles later, we are going back to the tee box, dropping a second ball, and going again.
By George Snider
I've been associated with the World Golf Teachers' Federation (WGTF) for more than a decade. Periodically, I'm asked to review various golf products. A couple week's ago, I was asked to test a set of hybrid irons. My reward, I would get to keep the driver. I was very specific with the the salesman on the phone. I want these clubs to have stiff graphite shafts. "Absolutely, Mr. Snider, that's what you'll get." He went on to say that he'd put a few of his business cards in the box. So, there I went. I put down my credit card, knowing that I can return the clubs within 45-days if not completely satsified and, again, keep the driver for my evaluation.
About two weeks later, my bride, Martha, pulled the box out of the front flowerbed. While I wasn't looking for changing out my irons, I was excited to get the "new and shiny" clubs out to the range. After all, they were custom built with stiff shafts. I open the box to take a peek and find "Senior Regular Flex" graphite shafts. Grrr!
I look at the order form. Sure enough. Despite the conversation and my insistence on stiff shafts, I received an order with"Senior Regular Flex" graphite shafts. I said to Martha: "You heard that conversation, right? I was supposed to get stiff graphite shafts. Business cards in the box, etc." She agreed with me. Sure enough, no business cards in the box either. Okay, they asked me my age, 74, and humored me for a sale. Let's take them to the range and give them a go.
At the range, kid you not, the six hybrid only went 100 yards. Shoot! I can hit my own pitching wedge farther than that. The rest of the set wasn't much better. Even the two hybrid was unimpressive by comparison to either my four iron or my five wood. Well, I was alone. Myabe I was fudging a bit or not clearly seeing the ball land. Time to get someone else's opinion.
So last Saturday, I met up with my golf teaching friend Dawn. As a lady golfer, she didn't think it fair to hit them, but she definitely gave me eyes on the ball. First off, she was amazed there was a two hybrid in the set. "Who has a two hybrid in their bag?" she asked. As Dawn watched me hit my clubs then the hybrids, she saw no difference in distance. And as I thought, sometimes, my clubs went a little farther.
In the end, she asked: "So how do they feel?" That is indeed where the rubber meets the road. The hybrids are new and shiny but no different in performance than the comfortable irons in my bag. Dawn and I agreed that the vendor went with my age on a chart and considered me to be "Senior Golfer." They did not trust me to know who I am and give me what I wanted or what I ordered. So, I am going with my gut and keeping my irons and returning their VERY flexible hybrids.
I am not sure if I am keeping the driver or not. My gut is currently saying not that much difference. In fact, when I used the driver on the course, I lost four golf balls out of bounds right. I normally hit left center fairway. So maybe they get their driver back also.