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Golf, Golf, and More Golf

October 7, 2012 - Ray Tsuchiyama

The last time – and this is completely true – before my recent Maui golf activity – that I played golf was the night before our daughter was born. She is now a college senior, so that shows the passage of time rather too well. Actually, I remember very clearly the long-ago scene with my pregnant spouse C. at the Ala Wai Golf Course in Honolulu and my instructor (name forgotten) giving me encouragement – my head should be lifted more, my long arms extended more etc. I was getting better in getting the balls into the air at that crowded urban course next to Waikiki – then came my daughter’s birth, and fast-forward two decades, and during the past month my spouse C. and I were at a central Maui golf course with our new instructor and golf pro D.

After the early spring devoted to tennis in Wailea – and in the games of tennis, baseball, football, rugby, and even cricket the ball is moving and there are opponents. In golf, the little ball is stationary until one hits it, and there is no opposing side – it is a battle between one and oneself, and the golf course, with its meandering greens, sand traps, and hills and valleys. Since I am in OK shape (I never smoked, my heart is fine, and my diet has improved considerably since moving to Maui – and I can run and even play a basic game of tennis) – I thought I could “learn” the basic techniques and go forth in a few days to one of the beautiful Maui golf courses – I mean, I live just miles away from some of the world’s best courses – why am I not playing golf?

The major revelation during our meetings with D. was how frustrating golf was – I thought it would be a bit easier. D. was patient with us, and explained how our brain over-thinks for us and makes me swing the club harder on the small ball. And our minds want to know immediately where the golf ball goes – so we raise our heads quicker and that affects our swing, and the ball goes in an embarrassing dribbling fashion down the green. The entire leg-hip-shoulder-arm motion is not what we would do automatically either: I have to train my body to do something rather unnatural, and do that same motion every time.

The other area of deep frustration is putting. D. kept emphasizing that you have to let gravity do the work, and don’t over-power the swing.

Finally, D. said that golf is more like meditation – which is why people play golf, to forget about work and other people. I like that – I have to loosen up more, do hip exercises, go into a more Zen-like trance – forget about muscling the driver, but rather become the swing, just focus on the club head hitting the little ball. (But that’s so easy to say!)

So now with our new clubs spouse C. and I go to various driving ranges and swing at yellow balls in the late afternoons, looking upwards at the clouds surrounding the summit of Haleakala. I guess golf has given us a reason to get out and enjoy nature on Maui. And so life on Maui has become a bit better, yet we haven’t reached that level of playing on a real golf course -- that’s the next much-anticipated phase.


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