Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, one would think I would have learned how to play golf. Family play. Friends play. Colleagues play. But I do not play. Not well anyway.
After graduating from Clemson University, I made my way out West. I peddled, paddled, climbed, hiked, and some times even crawled across all kinds of varying terrain, but never once did my trajectory meet a fairway.
Then came graduate school. I was studying business. And you know the saying, a lot of business gets done on the course. Fair enough. So I turned to a classmate who had actually competed in high school and was nothing short of a pro. He gave me some old clubs and took me under his wing….for an hour or two. At least I learned how to keep score and drive the cart.
Directly after obtaining my MBA, I took up a job in marketing and public relations. It wasn’t long after I had gotten over the initial discomfort of being in a new company that my boss announced there would be an upcoming golf tournament where my participation was required. Yes!
The morning began bright and beautiful as I looked out across the well manicured fairways at Lakeridge golf course. My boss, Jennifer, and I were paired with Charles and Melissa. They worked at a creative agency in town. Charles was also the president of the local advertising association.
It is important to note that while I was at least dressed to be outside, the other three were costumed in outfits cut directly from a golf catalogue. But I didn’t feel awkward at all. Nope, not a bit.
I couldn’t keep it a secret. I had to tell them I was about as good at golf as someone with no arms. There was some light teasing. Charles said, “guess we’re not winning this year.” But overall everyone was quite charitable and offered to help me.
As the day progressed I began to feel pretty good. I was driving and putting well, and my in-between game was not all that bad either. I began to picture the new clubs I was going to buy. How impressed my school buddy was going to be when I surprisingly whipped him in an impromptu game.
When we got to the 18th hole I was already breathing a personal sigh of relief. No windows broken, golf carts flipped, or clubs sailing through the air. My integrity was more or less intact.
Everyone else had already hit when Charles handed me his 6 iron. I tried to apply all of the tactics he had taught me throughout the day, but the ball fell short and wide. Charles said, “Try again, but this time look down at the ball until you have completed your swing.” Ok, I said, and he dropped another ball at my feet.
I swung the club, and as I looked up it appeared as if all the air molecules around Lakeridge were conspiring against me. The ball arced far to the left.
Just beyond the ball I could see my boss and Melissa laughing together, enjoying the end of a good day as they casually made their way to the hole.
In the grips of total and complete terror I expected the ball to hit my boss. It did not. Instead, I dropped Melissa like a gazelle on the African plains.
I ran to Melissa like a man possessed. Practically straddling her, I shrieked, Are you okay? Are you okay!?!
Due to the fact that I hit Melissa directly behind her right ear, she did end up getting a Cat Scan. Fortunately she turned out to be okay. Of course, and rightfully so, she never let me live it down and teased me about it whenever I saw her. I was mortified when it happened, and I still cringe when I think about it today.
Directly after the incident I sent Melissa flowers and a note that said:
What a great day of golf and play until my ball went astray.
I kept my job. I even went on to play in another golf tournament. But golf is not my game.