Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Driving Range
If you're a golfer, the driving range is your meadow. It's the place you can go and do so many things while only really doing the simplest of sorts -- swinging the club. It is where I find peace in this crazy world and where I let just about everything go.
I spend a lot of my free time on the driving range. If it isn't waking up early in the morning, it is late afternoon sessions with my uncle or random others that don't mind a little heat and a little sweat. Ben Hogan once famously said, "The secret is in the dirt" and he was right. It is the place you can figure things out one minute, and have no clue what you just learned the next.
People do the range all sorts of different ways. You have the group that sports the iPod when hitting, just to give them a little something extra as they swing away at their dreams. You have the group that chatters with buddies while they pop a few down the way, hoping to figure something out before they go tee it up. You also have the guys that have just about every golf gimmick possible, from balancing balls on their feet to alignment sticks that have become the norm for tour players.
On one of my last driving range sessions, I heard something I've never heard before. A guy screaming "Fore" as his shot sailed wide right over the fence. It is moments like that that make you realize how diverse the range really is. On one side you could have a tour player laying 8-irons right next to the 175-yard pin like he's rolling in two-footers while the guy next to him might be struggling to make contact.
It's the place that makes golf great. There aren't a lot of gyms that have older men running lay-up drills or trying to hone their out patterns. Even with a game like tennis, it's rare to find someone beating tennis balls against the machine in the heat of the day. With golf, the driving range is nearly as popular as the first tee.
If you ever want to totally grasp how wonderful our game is, go down to your local driving range and get a small bucket. Instead of just standing over the balls beating them, take your time with the bucket. Look around you and see the wonders of this game. A dad teaching his daughter how to keep that left elbow straight. An older gentleman still trying to figure out why the ball won't stay left. A young stud trying to add 10 yards on his already booming drives. It really is a melting pot for sports, and a wonderful place to enjoy what we don't always get to see.