By no means am I a track star.

Anyone that’s seen my attempts to do triple jump or has witnessed me cross the finish line last during the 400m dash would be more than happy to tell you that. It’s just a sport that never really grabbed my attention. So this spring, I made the decision to hang up my running spikes for a Titleist cap and a set of clubs.

My grandpa was practically jumping with joy when he discovered this new development. The man’s a bit of a golf connoisseur, having earned four holes-in-one over his career of 50-plus years. In fact, when my parents got married, his gift to my dad was a brand new set of clubs. My father, who has never golfed a day in his life, never once used the clubs that I now call mine.

Golf was a sport that I’d considered learning many times, but something I never went through with. I’m not quite sure why I waited so long to give it a try, but I figured that now was a better time than ever. Admittedly, I pictured myself being a lot better in my head. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was more to golf than swinging a club.

For the first team practice, our coach, Mr. Lockhart, took us to the old gym that’s in downtown Geneva. Everyone who’d previously known the drill went straight to work while I observed the process. Guys were pulling out mats, bringing in buckets of golf balls, and dropping a big net down from the ceiling. This is how we’d spend our rainy day practices.

When I had my little section of the gym ready to go, I pulled out a club and tried a few swings. I confidently loosened my shoulders, brought the club up, and swung at the ball. In my mind, I envisioned the ball flying high into the net and falling back to the ground. That didn’t happen. What did happen was a complete whiff. Thinking it was just a fluke, I did the same thing again. And, to no one’s surprise, whiffed again.

After a couple more failed attempts, I finally made contact with the ball. My hit resulted in the ball rowing forward about nine inches. It really began to frustrate me when I’d look around and see everyone else producing better outcomes. I knew going into the season that I’d be the only competitor without previous participation, but I didn’t realize I would be so far behind the rest of my team.

I talked to Coach Lockhart that day before practice and expressed my anxieties about how far behind I was from everyone else. He told me that there was absolutely nothing to worry about, saying how it was nothing more than a learning experience. Coach even reassured me that we’d get a chance to do a little one-on-one work time in.

Over the next two practices, I was really seeing improvements in my swings. Sure, they weren’t perfect by any means, but they didn’t need to be. In my eyes, being able to get the ball of the ground was an accomplishment, even if it was only going about 30 yards. I was happy with all the progress I’d been making in my game. It was a little worrisome that I might lose out on some practice time during my trip to Florida the next week, but I was sure that it’d be no problem getting back into the swing of things.

However, I didn’t get that opportunity. While I was on vacation, a pandemic broke out within our country and led to many events being cancelled, including the 2020 NSAA golf season. I wasn’t necessarily devastated that I wouldn’t get the chance to compete, but I was quite saddened at losing my opportunity to learn the sport. In those last two practices, I’d finally started to understand the appeal of golf.

Not wanting to lose what I’d just learned, I decided to do a little work on my own. No one needs a golf course to perfect their game. With my set of clubs and a few extra balls, I was able to keep working on my swing from home. Using buckets as my holes, I was able to continue practice.

When June finally came around and restrictions were lifted, Coach Lockhart reached out to me about having individual lessons to learn the game. I happily accepted his offer and we got straight to work. Funny enough, I’m writing this mere hours after working with my driver for the first time. My shot still is a little rough, but I’m working on it.

I originally went out for golf as an excuse to not do track. And while I have no regrets about leaving the mid-distance workouts behind, I feel as if I found more reasons to be happy about switching programs. I’m spending time with a coach I really respect, I’m learning a game I can play my entire life, and I’m having a lot of fun doing it. Golf may not be my specialty, but I’ve grown fond of life on the green.

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