Golf Lessons and Post Traumatic Stress

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
When I was about 8 years old, my grandparents signed my brother and me up for golf lessons at their country club. At 8 years old, I didn't know a thing about golf (this was before Tiger Woods made it cool and before golf video games were any good), but I had seen it played, and I can't say I was chomping at the bit to try it. Nonetheless, grandma and grandpa signed us up as a gift, and since pretty much anything that grandma and grandpa gave us turned out to be good, such as money, candy, and other things our parents didn't want us to have, we figured this golf thing could be a sweet deal. And that's not even factoring in the notion of having a big club that we can hit something with, which, when you're 8 years old, having any kind of weapon is pretty much the greatest thing in the world, right behind getting sugary cereal for breakfast.

So the first lesson rolls around and our teacher is this blond haired blue eyed yacht club type complete with sweater over his back, too much gel in his hair and too much snob in his voice. Of course, at 8 years old you don't recognize the specific personal touches that make someone a tool, but no matter your age, you still get that creeped-out feeling up your spine.

Once the brigade of polo-shirted children congregated, our teacher (I don't remember his name, but based on his appearance, it was probably Chad) starts teaching. Most of that part of the lesson was hideously boring, due in part to it not involving hitting anything with my club/weapon, but mostly due to Chad being about as exciting as watching old people playing Scrabble. Luckily, I was about as impatient then as I am now, so I went ahead and started putting while Chad was still instructing. Needless to say, Chad got mad. It's fortunate, then, that my young mind was overcome with a feeling I would only later identify as an utter lack of respect for anything Chad said or did.

Fast forward to sometime later when Chad is no longer mad. Chad brings us all to the driving range, where he gives a very precise, very detailed 5 minute lesson on how to drive a golf ball at the driving range. We then proceed to haul off and whack our balls as hard as we can in a way that is neither precise nor detailed. Naturally, it was my favorite part of the lesson.

After a lot of head shaking and heavy sighs on Chad's part, we left the driving range and got to take a ride on the golf carts. Despite numerous pleas and begging from a gaggle of Evil Kneivel-inspired children, Chad didn't try to hit any big jumps. This, I'm sad to say, lowered his coolness rating even further; at this point, the only thing staving off the mutiny was his allowing us extra time on the driving range, since we were all clearly so entertained by our ineptitude. He finally stopped at the end of the range, I suppose to teach us something. I couldn't tell you what that something was, because half of the kids ran through the trees and found a suburban jungle that would be perfect for exploring.

Our expedition party waded into the thick reeds, swinging our golf clubs like marauders with machetes, looking for crocodiles to wrestle, or savages to decapitate, or ancient Mayan ruins to ransack (despite the fact that, at 8 years old, I had no clue what a Mayan or a ruin was). Suddenly, and without warning, one of the kids started screaming and running back toward the protection of Chad and his repulsive cologne (judging from his character, it was probably Ralph Lauren, or something made by some other guy with two first names, one of those being a girl’s). The rest of us wondered if there weren't actually crocodiles or savages afoot, and we suddenly questioned the safety of our imaginary safari. One by one, shouts of panic echoed through the suburban jungle, and before I had a chance to ask anyone what was going on,another child ran by me, his face puffed out as though he had gone through some experimental plastic surgery involving marshmallows. Through the slit of an eye, I could see pure terror as he screamed

All at once I started running, not even knowing which direction, just trying to escape this near invisible enemy. All around me I could hear other kids--good, decent kids, with families and their whole futures ahead of them--cut down in the prime of their lives by the owners of the incessant buzzing. Swatting at myself everywhere I felt anything, I finally made it out alive, breathing heavily, stinging all over, and thanking sweet merciful Jesus for a chance to continue my existence for at least one more day.

We lost a lot of good kids out there; I tried so hard to block out the events of that day, but you can only run away from your memories for so long.

I eventually tried golfing again, and to my surprise found that I enjoyed it. That is, enjoyed it when I wasn't being attacked by a pack of vicious yellow jackets. And when I didn't have to put up with Chad.

What a loser.
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