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Hart Beat

Challenged but not intimidated by golf

I had two life changing experiences while on my recent vacation, one that can only be described as spiritual and the other was of a more frivolous, yet quite physical nature.

To prolong the suspense, let me just say, I expect the spiritual experience to have longer lasting rewards, while the frivolous experience will prolong my health, with any luck.

I have been seduced by the game of golf and I can't wait to try whacking the golf ball around again real soon.

My unexpected seduction happened on the driving range at Cherry Hill Golf Course at Granger, on the second to last day of my first actual vacation in years.

Now, I have no illusions that I will ever be much of a golfer, due largely to something about my body size being something of a challenge in the swing department. But that is not to say I'm not competitive when it comes to games which require a show of my physical prowess.

My afternoon of golf was offered by a friend, who only took up the sport herself a couple of years ago. She has been trying for months to get me out on the Granger driving range.

We finally had a free moment at the same time, so off to the course we went. She provided me with a set of mixed clubs and a cute lime green bag to haul them around in. She even threw in a handy little two-wheeled thingy to carry the bag around on.

Darned, if I didn't enjoy the stew out of whacking away at that little white dimpled ball.

Two things come to mind about my experience on the driving range - hitting the ball straight down the driving range is harder than it looks and - swinging the golf club is quite liberating.

Granted, I suck at the whole swing thing. Trying to get the club to come into contact with the golf ball is harder than it looks on television. My friend gently explained part of my problem includes an inflexible stance. I don't hold my wrists right and I have a tough time with my follow through.

I also found out I have horribly weak wrists that insist on flipping in mid stroke, which caused the ball to hook around behind me, endangering everyone crazy enough to stand within 10 feet of me.

The good news is that I never once let go of the club. It was stuck to my hands.

I'm going to love trying to figure out how to straighten my swing out in order to make the ball fly straight out in front of me to the 100 and beyond mark on the range.

I already love putting. It's a bit of challenge gauging the proper tap on the ball to make sure it hits that little cup with the colored flag poking out of it.

For a while, I thought the flag was mocking me until I finally settled down. You can't just swing away at the ball and expect it to magically jump into the cup when it gets close enough. Golf doesn't work that way, much to my chagrin. The ball will simply take off on its own if you hit it with too much force.

Golfers already know that - but, heck, I didn't. It took a couple hours for me to get my swing down to where the ball went into to the cup with only a couple dozen strokes, instead of the 20 or 30 I had tried previously. I still have to work on the whole driving thing.

Now, I realize that to most people I don't look like the athletic type. Truthfully, I am more at home in the recliner with the remote in one hand and a glass of ice tea in the other. But when my friend dragged me out to Cherry Hill last Thursday for a quick bucket of balls, I readily agreed.

I love the challenge the game of golf offers. I get to be outside and I get to spend time with friends. I also get to have a bit of exercise without running, jumping or jogging to stay semi-healthy. There is a lot of nice, slow walking between the holes.

I'm excited to learn more about the game, which once was restricted to men only. In fact, golf is an acronym meaning "Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden." But like all things women are forbidden to do, we always manage to find a way to worm ourselves onto the playing field.

So, while I may be a bit too well endowed to ever have a great golf swing, I know I will have a great time, learning to compensate for that handicap.

Besides, I hear there are tons of magazine articles offering swing tips for people like myself.

Now all I have to study up on is golf etiquette, like when to holler "fore," and when to offer to pay for the first round back at the clubhouse.

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