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By: Heather Rhodes

The day was perfect: the sunshine made the air warm, and a gentle southern breeze kept the bugs away. There were few cars in the parking lot which meant that there wouldn’t be very many people on the driving range to watch me fail.

Failure is a funny thing. We all fear failure to some degree, but we actually learn more when we fail than we do when we succeed. My self-talk goes into high gear when I try something new, and I love it when I’m left alone to navigate a new skill. Having an audience only intensifies the experience by splitting my focus: the new skill, and who is watching. Today, I was wrong about the parking lot. It appeared that everyone came to hit a few balls from the driving range instead of walking the course to play. My failures would be witnessed, so courage was called off the bench and put into play.

My hubs and I walked into the pro shop and paid for our coins to put into the ball machine. We were warned that the balls drop 35 at a time, so to not move the bucket until we had two drops; otherwise we would spend some time chasing errant balls and although the men in the shop found the image amusing, they didn’t think we would enjoy the experience. Coins in hand, off we went.

Hubs played golf quite a lot when he was younger, and walking beside him made me feel more confident. Full bucket in hand, we found an open spot and set our clubs down. Hubs pulled out his driver and a tee, placed his ball and swung. The ball had beautiful lift, and then drifted right, into the trees.

Beautiful sunny day to enjoy the driving range. There is a ridge of timber to the right that became the graveyard to my bucket of balls today.

At this point, it struck me how quiet it was on the driving range. I could hear the birds, and very quiet voices. No phones ringing, no loud talking, just the arrhythmic wack of golf balls. I asked Hubs if this was normal. His response, “It’s part of golf etiquette.” Mmm.. Mental note to do some research on golf etiquette.

Hubs then put his driver down and pulled out a six iron for me to practice with and after showing me what to do, he stood back and watched. After ploughing the ground a few times and watching my ball founder a few feet in front of me, he said “Relax. Clear your mind and let the iron do the work.” My next swing I hit the ball dead on and heard this musical “thwack” as I watched it straight-line towards the flag. I was hooked. Golf rocks!

Yes, I just hit an amazing shot. Don’t ask me to do it again!

I didn’t hit it again like that the rest of the time I was there. I had no idea what I did right, and I wasn’t able to recreate that swing again. However, mentally, I now know that I have it in me to capture that “all-net-baby” feeling I had playing basketball; only this time, on the golf course.

My goal now is to figure out what I did to hear that musical “thwack”, and  to learn more about golf etiquette. Technology is definitely going to be my friend in this endeavor.