The driving range is a place where golfers go to work on their game, but it is nothing like playing a round of golf. It contains separated areas where you place range balls (something that is inferior to a regular gold ball) on a rubber tee that is positioned on a rubber mat. In golf putting (these are the strokes taken when you are on the green, the shorter grass area where the cup is located) is said to be half of the game and it usually accounts for about half of the strokes that a golfer takes. Thus, if a golf hole (area from tee to cup, usually 18 of these on every course) is 400 yards in length, a par golfer (someone that plays very well) should take two strokes to get to the green from the tee and then they would be able to sink their golf ball into the cup with two putts, giving them the score of 4 on this hole which is designated as a par 4.
Most of the time spent while you are on a golf course is taken up walking from where you hit your golf ball to where it ends up, so people see this as a boring sport where not much is going on and to some extent that may be true. I enjoy playing golf and the walking is great exercise, but the conversations are what I enjoy most. I guess people can have great conversations when they are fishing, or bowling, or throwing darts, but there is something extremely special about being out on the golf course. The odd thing about golf is that you have to play your mistakes, which may also come into play when you are bowling. Ted Williams once argued with Sam Snead that it is harder to hit a baseball than it is to hit a golf ball, because the golf ball is standing still and the baseball is coming at you 90 miles per hour. Sam Snead responded by saying that in golf you have to play your mistakes, unlike baseball where if you hit a foul ball, you get a new pitch.
This is what makes golf such a difficult sport and especially challenging for a beginner, as those are the golfers that will hit more bad shots. It looks easy when a professional golfer plays, as they hit the ball in the fairway and the fact that they take less strokes, means that they are expending less energy and not getting as tired as the beginner, who usually gets worse as they get tired. The only ways to get good in golf are to either have natural talent, to take golf lessons, or to practice, which brings us back to the driving range. The biggest difference between golf and other sports, is the way your score is kept, as in most of the others you try to score more points, runs, or goals to win, where in golf your objective is to have the least number of strokes. This is the reason why I never enjoyed being at the driving range that much, as there is no scoring at the range. Everybody gets in their stall, tees up their ball and takes a whack at it and then watches where it goes. When your ball is sitting on a tee, it is called a drive and when you swing at it and it is not on a tee, it is called a shot. The range is a great way to practice, but it is not as fun as playing real golf on a real golf course.
I did have a really embarrassing moment on a driving range one day. I took this monster swing at the golf ball and my club slipped out of my hand. It went whirling around over the heads of a dozen golfers that were in their stalls hitting balls to the left of me. I didn’t want to lose my club, so I had to retrieve it and go past all these other golfers that looked at me like I was an idiot for swinging at the ball as hard as I did. I smiled and said, “Sorry about that.”
Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday where this week the prompt is drive.