Most of the guys who hang out at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range know that I don’t take direction well, and they are happy to let me take my golf lessons from Sandra, safely off the premises, and to let me wrestle my golf tips out of The Morning Guy, when he feels like sharing.
Anyone new on the scene also usually can tell within minutes that I am better left alone, determined student of the swing that I am.
Last night, we were surprisingly low on customers, but the weather was slightly cool and damp, and perhaps a few people were still out celebrating the results of the recent presidential election. I know that Sandra was, and Sue Ten was still cranking out red-white-and-blue cupcakes for customers over at The Swing Barn.
I didn’t mind having the extra space to myself, and I nodded to people as they came through the pie shop door to sit at the picnic tables with their pumpkin pie and hot coffee before loading up their buckets and starting to play.
I was doing pretty well, and was fairly pleased, so I didn’t fully notice that someone was teeing up in the space just behind me. Suddenly, the tide changed, and my next shot went completely backward, just a few inches off the ground, and abruptly knocked the other player’s ball right off the tee.
He jumped away in surprise, and soon commenced to announce that he had never seen such a shot in his life, not after teaching golf for two and a half decades, not after playing in innumerable tournaments, not after a lifetime in which golf was pretty much the primary focus.
“My god!” he said. “You couldn’t do that again in a million years.” I begged to differ. My shots have a fiercely wild variety, but he was convinced that he had already seen me in a nice rhythm, hitting balls with no trouble.
“Yes,” he said. “I came out and wondered where I should play. I looked around and saw you were doing your thing, and I thought, ‘That’s fine. That lady is hitting some nice shots, so she won’t need any advice and I can just get in my practice with no problem.'”
After that pronouncement, he proceeded to watch me, which made both of us and a couple of other people nervous as well. Finally, neither he nor the next guy in the line could stand to see me send one more ball scuttling down the grass, and they both commenced to give me more tips in 10 minutes than The Morning Guy had given me all year, only their tips were not written down in perfect block lettering on post-it notes for me to refer to later.
By then, they could see that I was taking on that deer-in-the-headlights look, and they backed off, but not for long. Try this! Try that! It made me think of Thing One and Thing Two in the Cat in the Hat books. Sparkle was so fascinated by the scene that he came out on the pretense of picking up buckets so he would smirk at close range. Knowing I was distracted, he told several people to go ahead and re-shoot any balls were lying close by. Why not?
I’ll have to admit, that ploy did soon disperse the crowd although I don’t know why. They can shoot all the balls they want, anyway, but I guess there seemed to be some bargain-basement mentality at work there.
Soon I was left with only one critic, and he was a bit of a bulldog about the whole thing. He picked up the wood that I usually lay on the ground just to help me keep some sense of alignment and said, “This club is getting all dirty, this is no good. Why don’t you like this club? It’s a nice one.”
I said it was too big, and besides that I like my nine iron and don’t really need another club right now. For some reason, this concept always reminds me of my mother teaching herself to knit using Christmas string. I don’t fully know why.
He shook his head. “Go ahead,” he said. “Try this one,” and he handed me the wood.
I tried, I failed, and he proceeded to offer corrections, including the usual Keep Your Head Down, which I thought I had been doing. Apparently not. I may never lift my head again after last night, though.
Then I hit a few more, and did all right, but still hit too high up on the ball. This has never been a concern for me since I have never been in any rush to learn the game. After all, I live here. The meter is not running, and I have an endless bucket of balls.
For the next hour, this guy — who turns out to be a professional caddy — continued to advise, tweak, talk, demonstrate, cajole, and advise again, taking the occasional breath to comment that he just couldn’t seem to stop himself since I was so close to hitting a really fine shot. Then the Caddy also told me to stop doing some girlie stuff. Excuse me?
Next The Caddy starting pulling clubs out of his bag to see if I could do better with one of them, until he completely lost all sense of judgment and turned his shiny blue featherweight driver over to me. I swear, I felt like Christopher, one of the the mini-Tiger-Woods kids who runs around here with a club bigger than he is, but I loved it. I backed away, I swung, and I heard that satisfying metallic clink, and I did not look up . . . at least not until the ball was well on its way.
I did look at The Caddy and said, “Thanks. I do believe I owe you a piece of pie,” and I headed inside.
Oddly enough, The Caddy, this guy who had talked non-stop by then for almost two hours, became strangely quiet without a golf club in his hands. And that was fine, too. We both needed a break.
I just can’t wait now for my next official lesson with Sandra so I can find out if I retained any new skills, or if I just went into sensory overload.
I should probably take her some pie, too.