Well, it’s never too late to do something totally stupid in life. Count me as one who does something like that every day. I just can’t help myself. But this might be the dumbest thing I’ve done in a long time.
I’ve taken up golf.
For years, people have been afraid to play the sport with me, mainly because of my name. I’m not the best member of a foursome when it comes to looking at names on a scorecard.
But there was another reason no one was calling me to go play golf on Saturdays -- I wasn’t very good.
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Like many, I played a bit when I was younger but gave it up when I realized I was embarrassing myself. I played probably 15 times or so when I was in college, and then when I moved to Macon in 1996, I probably played another five or six times.
But then, I took a sabbatical. I had not played one time this century until a year ago, when we had the great idea to play a round of golf on the radio show. Yes, Russ Brown, Charles Olson and I walked around Idle Hour Club playing golf on the radio.
That was the only time I played last year, but for some reason this year, I had a desire to play more. So far, I’ve played six rounds of golf. Yes, six whole rounds of golf.
Now, something frightening is happening. I’m actually enjoying it. And look, don’t get me wrong. I stink. I’m not like some who really play well but actually say they are not very good (like most of my friends). I’m really not very good, at least not yet.
Golf is humbling. We all know that. It’s easy to believe you can walk up to that little ball on a tee and poke it a long way with a club in your hand. But even the best in the world can hit one to the left or hit one so bad to the right analysts would say they “shanked it.”
There’s that word again.
Monday night I was playing and actually got a tip from a friend.
“Take your grip and do this instead,” he said.
Then I did exactly what he said to do. I turned my left hand a bit to the right and tightened my grip. I then popped it pretty good. Yes, it went way to the left, but it was the best I had hit the ball off the tee in my glorious return to the sport.
So then I did what any good golfer does after hitting a shot that went into the trees to the left -- I hit another one. This time, it was a perfect shot. It felt great. It faded to the left and then curved back around right down the fairway. Holy cow, it almost looked like a golf shot on TV.
My friend thought he was Butch Harmon. He was proud that the tip he gave me actually worked. You know how that is -- when someone is on the course who hasn’t played very much, you never know if they want to hear instruction or not. It’s not like I was playing with Arnold Palmer, but my friend has played more than I have. And I really didn’t mind getting a helpful tip -- as long as it worked.
After we drove down the fairway, my ball was about 10 feet behind his. I had hit my drive right at 240 yards. Now, you experienced golfers might laugh at that number, but you’ve got to understand I actually swung and missed at a drive the first time I played earlier this summer.
So that was what I would call progress.
I hit a few more good shots Monday night, and as you know, if you’re a newcomer to golf you have to rely on those good shots to keep you coming back for more.
There’s no desire to win the Cherry Blossom tournament on my part, but wouldn’t it be nice if I could at least get better enough to not embarrass myself when I play with my buddies?
That seems to be everybody’s goal. I might be a bit late to the party, but maybe if I can hit it well with my new grip folks won’t be so afraid to play golf with Shanks much longer.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.