So, a couple of days ago I ventured out onto a public golf course for the first time since last July. I picked Royal Virginia out in Hadensville since I knew nobody would be there. I have my first round scheduled this coming Friday, so I thought I should at least play 9 somewhere first, right? I pulled up into the nearly empty parking lot, rented a cart and headed to the first tee without considering a trip to the practice tee. A more prudent person would have loosened up first, but I have always detested trips to the driving range. There would be no prudence within a country mile of me today.
When I stepped onto the first tee, the wind was blowing a gale in my face. At least it wasn't raining. My first swing produced a rather severe hook. My next attempt was a topped five iron. By the time I arrived at the green I was putting for a double bogey from twenty feet. Of course...I drained it.
The next two holes featured more of the same. Brutal, ugly swings. Giant pieces of rust flying around everywhere. Then, like a scene from a terrible sports movie, I stepped onto the tee of my fourth hole, took a deep, cleansing, what-the-hell breath, and proceeded to stripe a long drive down the middle of the fairway of a very long par four. My four iron approach shot landed neatly on the green after a gorgeous right to left ball flight which I seldom see. Two putts later, I had a par on the hardest hole on the course.
Walking back to my cart, I scanned the horizon for camera crews. Maybe this was some sort of trick ball that had been placed in my bag, maybe somebody was getting back at me for all my April Fool's tricks. The following four holes were more of the same. Out of nowhere, my hack-attack performance on the first two holes had been replaced by some strange game that featured long, straight drives, beautiful arching iron shots and stellar putting. By the time I walked off the eighth hole I had started to believe that maybe my long layoff from the game had allowed my natural innate abilities to rise through the clutter of horrible golf memories. Maybe this was the real me! Maybe I had to walk away from the game in order to shed the thousand small bad habits that had crept into my game. For a moment I imagined a future on the senior tour.
Then, the last hole of my day presented itself in front of me, a reasonably straight forward par four, which if I could get home in par would give me a nine hole score of 40, quite amazing after a eight month layoff.
Anyone who has played this game for more than five minutes knows what happened next. I don't even have to write it down for you, right? As quickly as the game had come to me so miraculously five holes ago, it left in a huff. Big duck hook drive, shanked second, fat third, pedestrian fourth, then three putts from twenty feet for a triple bogey.
Still, 43 was about seven shots better than I had expected. Only, which golfer was I? The guy who was hacking the ball all over the place, or that dream-like guy on the middle five holes who could do no wrong? Neither. Golf is too stupid to analyze.