Jun 27, 2012 0 Share

Working on My Handicap

illustration of golfer; white silhouette on black background.

In the past few years, I have attempted to play a lot of sports, from baseball to soccer and even floor hockey. My favorite sport out of the whole bunch, however, is golf. Whereas most of the other sports I play are primarily focused on many people working together as a team, golf is a sport in which an individual player’s skills are most important. I am still learning to develop these skills for myself as well as the discipline needed to play well as a golfer. I am currently participating in a clinic which has helped me immensely in learning this discipline.

I am taking the clinic with a large group of other people with special needs; I know some of them from various other sports and activities I participate in, but I am also making new friends at the same time. Our teacher helps us to understand the nuances of the game. He has been very friendly and helpful, and he takes time to help us all out individually with a few small pieces of advice which have helped each of us to greatly improve. 

On our first day, we learned golfing terminology and some famous golfers and tournaments. I was familiar with most of the terms he taught us from playing golf-based video games at home and watching golf tournaments on television, but it was interesting to learn about where they came from. For instance, I knew that the portion beside the fairway was called the rough, but I never knew that the rough has such a name because the terrain in these areas is rough and gives golfers a hard time trying to hit their ball back out onto the fairway. I was surprised that such reasoning had never occurred to me before.

After these first lessons, the group practiced long shots on a driving range. Driving is one of my favorite parts of golf and it was a major focus of another golf program I have taken in the past. I did learn a lot of new things about driving through this clinic which have helped me to greatly improve my swing. The next day, the group practiced chipping and putting. Once chipping practice was over, it was time for my second favorite part of golf: putting. Several groups of pins had been placed onto the putting green to serve as small practice “holes.” Using a putter with a flat part designed to hit the ball in a straight line, I attempted to put my ball through each pair of pins. This was somewhat similar to the putting I had practiced with my other golf program, but unlike the green I had been on then, this green had a lot more curves, hills and valleys, making it harder to line up a good shot. I tended to miss my intended target more often than I got the ball cleanly through the pins, but I did get a better sense of what it must be like for professional golfers who often have to wage battle against the course itself in order to get the lowest number of strokes possible.

As I write this, I have yet to participate in the last day’s events which will include a “captain and crew” game on the golf course. From what I understand, we will be divided into various groups and practice all that we have learned on the actual golf course. I have never practiced on a real golf course before, so I look forward to the experience and to see if I can play well under more authentic conditions.

I feel that I have greatly improved through this golf clinic. I have been having a lot of fun and I have gotten a lot of great exercise. I enjoy trying new things like golf because it allows me to experience certain parts of life I have never encountered before. I usually feel nervous about doing them at first and I may perform poorly in the beginning, but as I receive guidance and encouragement, I find that my skills improve as time goes on.    

Also, being able to step out of my comfort zone and do new things helps me to learn about new concepts and ideas in other areas of my life. I have discovered that perseverance and practice are key elements to learning this game just as they are key elements with anything else I have had to learn in my life and will continue to learn as time goes on. Also, I am not just staying in one place. I am getting out and taking on new challenges. I feel that this is an important part of one's life because there are many opportunities to learn new things if you know where to look. You might surprise yourself and excel in areas you never thought you could along with finding out that you actually enjoy the new experiences.