I believe I received my first invitation to play golf when I was a pastor in North Carolina back in 2005. I was not even tempted, not even a little, to start playing this “boring game.” One time I remember one of my brothers in law had a wedge and a golf ball. We all took turns trying to hit that ball; I did not even touch it; that small experience with golf moved my interest for golf even further way. Golf became a little closer to me; every time my father in law came to visit us in Fairbanks; he always came prepared to play golf. Honestly, I could not understand why folks get hook on this game. I went as far as driving my father in law to the golf course and then picking him up later; but that was about to change.
Precisely, on August 18, 2018 I started playing golf. I was working with a group of teens. That particular day we did not have anything in our agenda. That’s when one of the teens suggested for us to play golf. He had some old clubs; it was a beautiful day, so I said, why not. We went to North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks. We got a bucket of about 30 golf balls for $5.00 and we just started hitting balls. Obviously, we did not know what we were doing!
This time I was able to hit a few balls with a drive. The feeling of hitting those golf balls caused in me an instant addiction for golf. That is all it took! I inquired regarding golf classes. I knew enough to know that as winter was approaching I needed to be working on good techniques and avoid the development of bad habits. I took a couple of classes with a Hawaiian lady by the name of Bernie. Bernie was the golf teacher at this particular club. She gave me some very important fundamentals. She told me that I needed to practice chipping and pitching twice as much as the drive. I, like may others, love the drive because I love to hit the ball far away. For starters, I spend too much time on that drive; I should have listen to Bernie more. However, she was able to give me a good head start. She also gave me a few wedges to begin to form my set of unmatched clubs. I am grateful for Bernie; she was a very nice lady.
In Fairbanks we experience very long, cold and dark winters. The ground gets filled with snow and ice starting at the end of October and it remains that way all the way until about April. As a matter of fact, today we had our first serious snow in Fairbanks; the ground is white and it will remain that way until April or May. That is why the people who are able to leave for the winter do. Bernie was one of those; she was out of here before the snow hit the ground. To make matters worst, North Star Golf Club is now officially for sale. I love the people there; they were truly nice to the kids I brought from Family Centered Services and to me. I made up my mind very early, that I was not going to let obstacles get on the way of my dreams regarding golf. From the very beginning I was determined to be an Amateur Golfer by next summer.
Play Again Sports is a local sport store in Fairbanks; there they have three indoor Golf Simulators. These golf simulators are very useful as it tells us exactly how we are swinging the club, distance and all. I was able to meet Matt, the owner of the store. As I was swinging the club, he politely volunteered to give me some tips. Every tip was well received and very helpful. In this journey of learning how to play this game I also decided to buy some books that would give me insight into this game I know nothing about. I now want to learn about this sport so I bought a few books. The first book I read was Golf is not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella. The book is helping me to approach the phycology of the game. I am currently on my second book by the same author, entitle, The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Short Game to Achieve Greatness. I am so glad that my golf book collection started with books written by Dr. Rotella. I will be writing about these books and the impact they are causing in my golf game and life, in future articles.
My wife and I went to New York last week; it was so awesome to see my parents, my sister and my brother. My father in law Raymond also came up; I could not wait to play golf with him and my brother Carlos. I was on a mission to, not only play with my father in law, but also get my brother Carlos hook on this game. Raymond gave me a few pointers and, regarding my brother, I think we can say mission accomplished!
Matt, owner of Play Again Sports, invited me for a little get together they have on Wednesday where teams of Golf play against each other using the Simulating Golf. We pay $25.00 to get in and the winner team split the money. Obviously, is not about the money; there is not much money to be made; but it is exactly what I needed in order to keep going during the winter. These guys are fun to be around, knowledgeable of the game and well organized. This is a great opportunity to learn and meet some of the golfers in town. I have to tell you that playing that first Wednesday with these guys was one of the most fun times I had since I came to Alaska; can’t wait to go back!
So far I know that the average golfer in the USA hits 108 strokes. By playing all of the simulating games I have played so far I can say that I am officially a part of the average golfers in America. Judging by my last 5 games, I am a little better than average. Average is not enough for me; this is a game I can play for the next 20 plus years and I will probably dedicate more time than anything else I have done in my life, outside of ministry. I am determined to be an outstanding Senior Amateur Golfer. Golf is improving my quality of life, is challenging me emotionally, physically and even spiritually. I think that golf and me are going to get alone just fine.