Golf

What a game! Golf is without a doubt one of the most challenging sports I’ve ever taken up. It all started when I was an adolescent and my dad’s best friend, Doug Simmons (a single digit player), gave me some clubs. I was 16 and had never considered playing the sport as I was too involved in ice hockey, baseball, football and competitive paddling at the Otterburn Boating Club while working towards my Canadian Life Saving and Swimming Instructors certification and a summer job. I played a little that summer across the river at the Beloeil Golf Club and really enjoyed it but getting to the course was problematic and I just didn’t have that kind of time. I did however play with Danny Talbot who went on to become the Canadian Junior Golf Champion. Danny and I first met on opposing teams in ice hockey.  I didn’t play again for almost fifty years when I was visiting my older brother back in Ontario and he said it’s time you took up golf. He’s a golf fanatic who plays 90 to 100+ times a year and has for over 40 years lived in a golf country club setting. He gave me some old clubs that summer of 2014 and so I took up the game. The clubs were right-handed and I’m naturally a left-handed golfer but the transition was easy for me. Maybe all those years of playing baseball and switch hitting on pitchers allowed me to make that switch with relative ease-God only knows!

Golf without doubt is not an easy game or at least it wasn’t for me now that I was in my sixties. I’ve always been a pretty decent athlete at any sport I’ve been introduced to but golf was to be different. It did not come naturally to me by my standards and it didn’t help that a Canadian tour professional from Alberta and a former Willingdon Cup player from Ontario kept telling me after they’d seen me on the driving range , “You’ve got a great swing.” Those words keep tickling my brain and I was soon to discover that a good looking swing doesn’t equate to good scores. I had expectations of myself after hearing those words ringing in my ears and that was to be my downfall. I would get frustrated when I duffed a shot  (happened a lot)or missed a 4 foot putt because I didn’t expect that to happen. I was my own worse enemy!

Golf teaches you so many life lessons. Things like: patience, strategy, risk/reward, the honour system, humility, sportsmanship, dealing with frustration, and mind over matter. It’s a game of centimeters, if your attack angle on the ball is ever so slightly off or your club face to ball contact is millimeters off, it can lead to disaster on the course. I’d never played a game like that before and in the past I could always rely on my speed, strength, balance, agility, and good eye hand co-ordination to get me to the competitive level I was accustomed to playing at. The golf gods were definitely getting a chuckle out of my approach to learning this new sport. I spent hours whacking balls at the driving range and although I thought I had a game plan to learn the sport I really didn’t. It took me a four years to learn that I really needed to get a handle on my emotions if I was to both enjoy the sport and score better. That came in an unexpected way, the school of hard knocks. 

Two years ago this past January I really tore my left shoulder and with Covid I told myself I’d live with it and the constant pain so I didn’t go to the emergency department of a Calgary hospital after a six hour drive back from northern Alberta photographing wildlife. It’ll never be right but it’s taught me to ‘slow down’ and humility. This summer I plan to play again after a three year hiatus. I’ve never played more than 6-15 times in a golf season so it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect to be a single digit golfer. However, my last round three years ago I shot a 40 after playing nine holes of golf. What I remember most about that round was the feeling I had and that is what I’ll carry with me into this 2022 season. 

In between doing my photography, day hiking in the Rockies, a planned backpacking trip into what the Stoney First Nations called the Hidden Valley east of Kananaskis (RM Patterson country), and road biking; I plan to play 10-15 rounds of golf. I’ll be heading into the season with no expectations and just to play for the love of the game. I’ve always loved sport as anyone who knows me knows and if I could live another life I’d direct my career in some capacity to competitive sport. I’m not sure why I didn’t in this lifetime but hindsight is 20/20 as they say. 

I play the game with Mizuno clubs and I love them! When I hit a pure strike they’re as soft as butter in my hands. Mizuno is only one of two golf manufacturers in the world that have their clubs made using steel from an exclusive plant in Japan. That means that all the other brands share different manufacturers for their products, not Mizuno. I like that about Mizuno and I really like their feel, especially their irons. I have two sets of Mizuno irons and I’ll stay loyal to their brand. So if you’re looking for a quality golf club manufacturer you just might want to take a look at Mizuno. You won’t be disappointed!

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