Yesterday I called a friend up in Michigan. He and his wife moved away last year and began practicing “Social Isolation” before “Social Isolation” was cool. Since they moved into a cabin in the middle of nowhere, without cable or even an antenna, I was the one who had to tell him that the Masters Tournament had been postponed until September. Come on, the Masters without azaleas & magnolias?
When I told him that I had just cleaned my golf clubs, we began to lament the closing of golf courses under COVID-19 social distancing orders. What nonsense! With my erratic shots, I’m rarely within shouting distance of my foursome except for tees and greens. Even then, while they are on the green in regulation, I’m usually two shots out from the green-side sand trap. They are impatiently waiting to attempt their birdie putts, I’m hoping to avoid a triple bogey.
Right now, you’re probably wondering why I play the game. Well it begins with cleaning the clubs on a warm Spring day. Get a bucket of warm soapy water, a scrub brush, and a rag, and plunge the clubs into the suds. Remove the driver, scrub out the grooves on the face, wipe the whole thing down, especially the grips, dry it and put it back in the bag. Same with the three wood and so on. Get some fresh golf balls, mark them and throw them into the pocket. Maybe get a fresh golf towel to hang on the bag.
All the while thinking about that one really good shot you made with the seven wood, or the sand shot that rolled onto the green and into the cup last Fall. Or that time when your buddy made a hole-in-one. Then there’s my golfing buddies. One of the Monday morning regulars (actually he’s the instigator) is about six inches taller than I am, and routinely drives the ball fifty or more yards farther than me. We josh a little on the tees, but mostly it’s a silent walk to the next shot, then conversation resumes on the green. Everywhere you look there are green grass fairways, green trees, still and shimmering ponds. And we are all equals out there.
Because we are not competing with each other, we are challenged by the course and a thing called “par.” For me, “par” is like a high, unscalable mountain whose peak I seldom reach; on a particular hole, maybe, but for a complete round, never. But my buddies are scrambling too, they’re after the same thing “par.” That’s what makes the game fun. It’s a lifelong challenge to make, or beat par. And every time you do, whether on one hole or for the entire round, it’s worth a fist bump. And every time you creep closer to that goal, you celebrate.
This pandemic will end; that’s why I cleaned my clubs this week. Right now, God is making the grass to grow and the trees to bud and He is refilling the ponds. Soon I’ll re-join my buddies and we’ll walk the fairways together. Except of course, when I’m in the weeds, looking for my ball.