If you think golf is boring… stop right there!
Golf is a lot of fun. It just depends on who you play with, how seriously you are willing to take it and how easily intimidated you are by blowhards. Golf is not an easy game, not by any means. But it is fun, especially if you like spending time outdoors. And if you are riding around in a golf cart (not all courses have them, and they can cost extra) or if you are participating in an outing or an informal game at a club… you can have a blast. Besides, being challenging, it is also exciting.
Welcome to Golf 101 – Mommylogue style
If you have never played golf before but have been invited to try it, chances are it is because someone you have a good relationship with has asked you to play. If that is the case, relax and have fun. Golf is not an easy game. Nobody expects a new golfer to have a clue about anything that they are doing, so you shouldn’t feel any pressure at all. If you can find it in yourself to relax and have fun, golf places you in a beautiful and somewhat surreal world, depending on where you are playing. If you are on a public or semi-public course, the greens may be a little choppy, you may find yourself walking and carrying your bag, and you might not see the latest in vogue golf attire. (My personal opinion, all golf clothing… even the nicest stuff… is a teensy bit goofy looking. But, out on the golf course goofy is good.) But it is still pastoral and beautiful. Carrying your own bag and walking 18 holes on a hot day isn’t always thrilling, but it gets you to understand what the game is about.
If you have been invited to a private club to play, especially a really nice private club, prepare to be a bit spoiled. Golf clubs are pretty cool, perhaps with the exception of old-style boys clubs that have not been renovated for some time. For the purposes of this post, when I say “club” I am not referring to an “organization” but rather to a physical place where golf is played. In addition to the course itself, a golf club generally has a club house attached to it with a dining room, bar and separate locker rooms for men and women. Generally speaking, hold on to your hats, the men’s locker rooms blow away the women’s locker rooms, no matter how nice the women’s locker rooms are. Some clubs have gorgeous women’s locker rooms… but I’d bet you 10 to 1 that the men’s locker room is even nicer. It is still largely a boys’ game, but the margin is slowly getting smaller. Hooray for that!
That said, if you have been invited to a really nice golf club, perhaps for an outing (a golf game for a reason or cause) prepare to be a little spoiled. Golf outings can range from nice to luxe. Most involve some form of a welcome lunch/brunch, swag (gifts), snacks (ranging from bites of food to grills depending on where you are), drinks out on the course, and dinner with raffles at the end. All of them, with the right attitude and the right foursome (group of four players including you) are fun. Frequently a round of golf during an outing will include the use of a golf cart and a caddy. The caddy is there to explain the course to you, give you advice on how and where to hit the ball, help you find your ball if it lands outside your hole and to answer any questions you might have. It is customary to tip him at the end of the round. If you don’t know how much to tip him, ask the caddy master or the person running the event.
Here are some more tips:
1. Always follow the rules: Golf clubs have rules for a reason. Most of them revolve around protecting and preserving the greens on which you are playing. Many others concern respecting the rights of the other players to enjoy themselves without being subjected to unruly behavior and cell phones. Common courtesy is key.
Signs like the one above may be found in your cart or by the tees. If you do make a divot (tear a piece of grass out of the ground) find it and replace it. And it is also really nice to sprinkle some seed as well. You can find seed around the course or on your cart. It will look like this…
Remember that the regular members of the club pay money (sometimes a lot of it) for the privilege to play there on a regular basis. In effect, it is there home and it is incumbent on you to treat it well. You will still have fun; they are not mutually exclusive.
2. Drive Carefully: If you are driving a golf cart, watch where you drive and drive carefully especially if it is your first time out. Golf carts are cute and speedy, and they do tip over if you aren’t careful. They are not ATVs so take that into account if you are tempted to drive down a steep embankment.
Doom and gloom aside, driving a golf cart is coolio. The mechanical aspect of it is rather sparse – just a wheel which conveniently doubles to hold your score card. The first time my sister went to a golf outing she asked me upon seeing the card, “Are we supposed to take notes as we go along?”The pedals on cart are simple. The right is the “gas” or electricity in the case of a cart, and the left is the brake. But if you look at the photo below you will see that the top 1/3 of the brake is also the parking brake. So, if you are ready to get out of your cart after stopping it, all you need to do is add a little extra pressure to the top and bingo, you are parked. To take it out of park, just step on the gas peddle.
A final note about carts. Carts can do a lot of damage to the course so always look for markers telling you which way to go. If you see something like this…
… head into the direction it is pointing and don’t drive beyond the sign. It is there to protect either a part of the hole that is being reseeded, or the ever important putting green. Never, ever, ever drive on a putting green.
Golf carts also have lots of handy dandy little holders for things, such as your tees, your balls, your glasses… and your drinks! In fact, they have as high a cup holder to passenger ratio than most family minivans!
3. Don’t Dehydrate: It is very easy to dehydrate playing golf. A full game will take a few hours, and unless it is a cloudy day, you will be exposed to the sun a long time. Plus you will be doing exercise, walking, bending and swinging a club. Granted you don’t get as much exercise if you ride a cart, but you will get tired at the end especially if you are a novice. For that reason it is important to keep hydrated. Different golf clubs have different ways to keep you hydrated. You may find coolers or fountains at different holes around the course. I thought this one was cute.
On really hot days, you may find snacks sitting out waiting for you along the way.
In addition, most clubs have some sort of shack or watering hole somewhere on the course for players to grab a sandwich, hot dog or other bite to eat. You can work up an appetite as well. Plus, at golf outings, there will frequently be little set ups like the one below for guests to have a quick lunch before they move on to the final holes.
But “bar” none (pun intended) the friendliest site on the course at an outing is this kind of cart…
Look carefully at its contents. It brought a smile to my sister’s and my faces. And it didn’t help our golf games one bit…
This golf primer may not have taught you a thing about the game of golf, but it was not intended to do that. I just want to encourage you to try it sometime. Don’t be intimated by what you may have heard about the game being boring, or the players being stiff. There are plenty of nice players who stink out there… just like me. Try it some time. Have fun. Bring some sunscreen. And if you hear someone shout “Fore”… duck and cover!!!
As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised in a manner similar to most ethnic kids of my generation. I say “ethnic” because I have found similarities in the way I was raised with people my age of ethnic groups other than Spanish/Latino. The basic idea was that school work - excellent grades and homework – were paramount. Extra time which could be devoted to an “activity” was devoted to something intellectual or artistic. By artistic I mean as related to the fine arts, for example, an instrument, a choir or ballet. Sports was nice, but they cut into the most essential pursuits of school and instrument, so it was not encouraged. It was also not quashed, but it was, well, irrelevant. Hard work brought good grades. Good grades brought good college admissions. Good college admissions brought good career and a good career brought good money. Easy. My parents were and are good people and only wanted the best for my sister and I. They provided us with all the ingredients for it, and I’m grateful for that and I love them for it.
And yet, as much as I appreciate what they did, I sometimes feel like I missed out on some things. That is to say, I don’t know whether I was an athletic kid, but I held my own in ”gym” as we used to call it. I was not picked last for any teams, and in high school was always paired up with the fastest runners. Sometimes I look back on it a little sadly and wonder if I might have been good at something. But joining a team was not an option.
Fast forward to today. I want to do things a little differently. School is still paramount… but… My goal is for all my daughters to participate in a sport/s. The oldest is already a decent gymnast. The younger two are still finding their way, but in my experience as a mother already I know that the bell will go off soon enough. I am not going to “push them” into a sport just because I like it or because their older sister does it. My husband and I want to expose them to as much as possible, and then they will decide what they want to do. Simple enough. I’ve heard say exercise is also good for brain development and so in my book it complements the homework and grades.
But there is another element to sports which my husband and I are actively trying to promote as a family. Whenever possible we try to incorporate some form of physical activity into our free days together as a family. And so we pick sports which match the season we are in. Skiing in the winter, biking and hiking in the spring and fall and, my personal favorite, kayaking in the summer.
In a million years I would never have thought that I would be in a kayak, much less actually enjoy it. But it has come to be my single most favorite thing to do in the summer. Whenever we get a chance, the kids, my husband and I will jump in the car and drive to a kayaking center. We don’t own any kayaks, but that’s not too far off. We don’t kayak in any difficult water, and tend to stick to sounds, lakes or marshes, but that’s OK. I like it because it is tranquil. I like it because I get to spend time with the whole family. I like it because it makes me move in an enjoyable way. And I like it because, for some reason, everything seems more colorful out on the water. Reds look redder. Greens look more green. The sky, no matter its condition, is expansive and beautiful.
This past weekend we went out for the first time this summer. We paddled out through the marshes off Piermont, our oldest in a single kayak, my husband with one twin and I with the other. We sang, we took photos, we raced, we laughed and we even helped out a father and son whose canoe over turned just short of the dock. We made it out onto the Hudson River where the water was calm and the tide was rising, and we were all happy and stress free.
I love kayaking, and I’ll share more on it as we visit new areas and learn more about it over the next few weeks. If you have ever been curious to try it. Do it. Don’t worry about being inexperienced. Just do it and you might just love it, too.