Chapter 2

 
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2     HOPE

 

Years later, three brothers from the house of eight played a round together. They joined an uncle and his son. Tellingly, it did not dawn on them a fivesome would be a problem, and they did not know why their uncle asked one of them to skip the first hole. Once in the clear, the younger brother unwrapped a secret – he could play, and play well. Years ago, this would have kicked their competitive turbochargers into high gear. Now they were just surprised, like showing up an hour early to a meeting in the fall after the time changed. It took a minute to figure out what was going on. They had never really seen whistling balls well struck on to greens. Their laughs were delayed like a Godzilla movie at their younger brother’s wide array of biting, effective one-liners at their missed shots and putts.

Slowly, a new thought arose along with their scores – hope. Not the shallow hope from randomly hitting a green in regulation or sinking a putt with some break. But instead, a real, lasting hope that at least modest competence was achievable, especially since this was their own brother who largely shared their athletic aptitude. It was possible to escape golf purgatory.

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So the two older brothers were at a crossroads – would they follow their younger brother, or let this hope die? The middle brother had the most interest in golf, so he might, but his previous track record did little to shorten the odds  However, like a horse winning from the outside gate, he bucked the prognosticators and saddled up to playing better. Even then, he would still need plenty of booster rockets to actually pull off this moon shot.

The oldest brother chose the other path. He was content with his reverse pivot and off- plane swing  A fuller bank account and blister-free hands held more appeal  While his two other brothers are sad he did not join them, he is equally sad for their lack of sanity.  He could care less he lives in a golfing hell, with drives named after fruits, with a short game where he hits three times in a row, and where snowmen are common.

Lack of sanity or not, the middle brother started that day to work on his golf game. He first spent most of his time on the range and took a few basic lessons, though the advice could be contradictory. His progress was halting and bidirectional, discouraging him and making his blood boil, but he held on despite abandoning ship many times in the past. After a few months, he could reasonably hit his short irons, but his putter, long irons and woods seemed like they were built for someone else. Then there was the day when he could finally hit his driver somewhat straight, which almost made him cry, but then he started shanking his wedges. He did not agree he should use the same swing with all clubs.

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Perhaps most maddeningly, when he was able to hit all his clubs fairly well on the range, he would be a disaster on the course. Or when certain swing feelings or thoughts led to many good shots, and the same feelings or thoughts were gone or did not work the next time. He usually left such sessions convinced this was too hard and not worth it, but a good night’s sleep or a few days break would help. For some reason, he kept going. He was not Lindbergh; there were many places to land the plane and get out.