The “guaranteed morning off from work” didn’t work out quite like I had planned. I worked at a little ice cream store on the lake that didn’t open until 11… and golf lessons started at 7am sharp. I found this out after the lessons had been paid for, of course. What can I say? I haven’t been an early riser since I was 7 and had to get up in time to watch the 6am Lion King cartoons on Saturdays.
This was also the summer I began taking driver’s ed classes (which is a story for another time). I wouldn’t get my learner’s permit until after those classes were finished, and I had to wait another three months beyond that to get the license that allowed me to drive without parental supervision. So I still had to rely on people to give me rides to and from golf lessons at the Lake Poinsett course. One of my neighbors was also taking golf lessons, so either her mom or my dad drove us back and forth.
I don’t remember much about golf lessons that summer, except for one unfortunate realization: I was terrible at golf. Just God-awful. When I teed off, it would often take me three or four swings to actually hit the ball – and I always manage to completely destroy the green around my tee. When we started playing nine holes, I always had the highest score and was the last to finish. I have said for years that if my golfing score and my bowling score could be reversed, I would be a champion.
When my summer of golf lessons ended, I had no desire to ever lay eyes on a club again. I told myself that at least I had tried, and now, thanks to this experience and many embarrassing years of PE, I could officially label myself “bad at sports.”
Skip ahead to spring 2002. I was finishing up my freshman year of high school, and I was the proud holder of a restricted driver’s license. I heard in the announcements one day that spring golf was now open for sign-up. My friend Meagan knew I had taken golf lessons, so she suggested we both join the team. I vaguely recalled my ineptitude of the preceding summer, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was and signed up for golf.
Meagan and I were on the varsity team – not because of our skill, but because of our age. Golf practice started off in the grass by the school, but it was moved to the Lake Poinsett course when one too many golf balls were (accidentally?) hit at parked cars. After a handful of practices, I realized that I really WAS as bad as I remembered, and Meagan realized that golf was not nearly as fun as it looked. Practices were two or three times a week, and Meagan and I began to do our darndest to get out of them. We always rode together, so if Meagan had leave early to water her horses, I HAD to go with her – she was my ride, after all. Same rule applied for my dentist appointments (I had braces at the time, so the appointments were all too frequent) and any other conflict we could conjure up.
Practices were one thing: golf meets were something else completely. Varsity team members were required to go to so many meets per season in order for it to count towards our A-pin. An A-pin is a lifetime pass to all the sporting events hosted in Arlington. Not too useful for someone like me, but you never know: my dad is an A-pin holder, and he said that the first time he used his card was to hear his kids play pep band. Anyway, you need a certain number of points for an A-pin, and you earned these points by participating in sports, the arts, and for making the honor roll.
Anyway, Meagan and I were required to go to a handful of meets. We had to wear collared shirts, which was a NIGHTMARE.
Few South Dakota
ninth-grade girls would be caught dead in a collared shirt (unless it had some
kind of desirable logo, which none of mine did). We did get to leave school
early on golf meet days, though, so that was a definite bonus. If our golf
meets were in DeSmet, we even got to stop at Dairy Queen on the way home. One
golf meet even landed on my birthday, but (much to my delight) we got rained
|We looked a lot like this.|
Our golf meet performance was awfully pathetic. Meagan and I made sure to golf in the same group so we could at least have fun while being terrible. And we did have fun: we bragged about how awesome we were, and we tried to see how many golf bags we could fit on one of those little two-wheeled metal cart things (we never got to use the REAL carts).
Meagan and I were usually teamed up with one or two girls from other towns. Every once in a while, we’d get someone who just joined golf to get some fresh air, and she would get along famously with Meagan and me. The vast majority of the players were usually very focused on the game and their scores, and they simply ignored Meagan and me. The worst, though, was when we’d get partnered with someone who was as bad as we were, but they THOUGHT they were good. Meagan and I were grouped with a girl from a neighboring town who was absolutely horrible. She was doing worse than Meagan and me! It was a nice change not to be the suckiest players on the green, that’s for sure. The crappy girl would hit her golf ball totally out of sight, and she’d vanish while she’d try to get it towards the hole. She wouldn’t reappear until she was putting the ball in, and she’d claim that she’d made par. Meagan and I rolled our eyes – this girl was over par before she even hit the golf ball off the tee! It’s one thing to be a bad golfer, but to be a bad golfer who is also bad at cheating? Come on.
There was one tournament, however, where Meagan and I actually came home with ribbons. I came in fifth place, and Meagan was sixth. I bet you’re thinking that we improved drastically after hard work and dedication? Not exactly. There were only six girls competing in the tournament that day. So even though we got fifth and sixth places (out of six), Meagan and I were still proud of our ribbons! I have that ribbon to this day.