Sunday, August 19, 2012



 Professional golf champion Annika Sörenstam says that the key to playing the game well is repeatability. Following that logic Mars and I recently went to our fifth iteration of the Road Scholar (nee Elderhostel) Golf School at Penn State University. This would have been our sixth consecutive trip but we involuntarily withdrew from last year’s session due to our respective recoveries from our respective cancers.

The university likewise had issues where some major members of its management team did bad (even terrible) things – but they likewise have been excised, and life as usual is attempting to resume at that institution.

Denise, the Head Coach of the PSU Women’s Golf Team, Andy her Assistant Coach, her predecessor coach Mary, and Steve, an Assistant Golf Pro at the college’s golf club, teach the class which runs Monday through Thursday with lessons in the morning and golf playing in the afternoon. The teachers accompany (some would say stalk) us when we play and offer critiques and advice.

Mars and I began playing golf twelve years ago. The main advantage of beginning this sport later in life is that it is one of the few things that we are getting better at as we get older.

This class is one of the main reasons for this positive trend. Over the years the student body has ranged from very experienced (almost “scratch”) golfers to an 85 year-old woman who had never even picked up a club until she came here. Several, like us, are multi-repeaters. This year’s group of seventeen was the most advanced that we’ve experienced – with the majority having played most of their lives, and currently competing in regular leagues.

We play together, by ourselves, on what is considered a “hacker’s nine holes” on a public course in the middle of a municipal park in our state’s capitol city. We do not keep score – except to note to ourselves, and to each other, the rare pars that we achieve. Among other good things, Penn State offers us an opportunity to hit the ball off of well-mown grass instead of hardpan, crabgrass and clippings.

As you would expect, lessons are similar from year to year – which is good because clearly our muscle memory is not yet running on automatic pilot.

Some of the same jokes and stories get repeated also. Coach Denise always tells the tale of a man who came to her for individual lessons beginning in his 80’s.

“What do you want to work on this year?” she would ask.

“I just want to be able to shoot 100 when I reach 100.” He would answer.

 He didn’t make it to that age, but he would take the bus from his Senior Living complex to the golf course three times every week and play 9 holes – walking with his pull cart.

Here is a Haiku synopsis of my week:

One ball lost, two found – 
3 pars in 36 holes. 
That’s worth repeating.

No comments: