by Ron Clarkson


One sport I vowed that I would never take up was golf. To me golf was for old men with multi-colored plaid pants and polyester shirts- The only reason people golfed, I figured, was because they were too out of shape to play any other sport. So when a friend, who himself was an excellent golfer, asked me to go to a driving-range with him, assuring me that he would give me instruction, I agreed with a good bit of reluctance.

At the practice range he got a huge basket of golf balls and picked a practice spot off a bit from the other golfers. He gave me some general tips for my swing and told me to hit a few. (I'm a decent athlete, so I figured this game couldn't be all that tough). My first swing, though, indicated otherwise. I lined up the shot, picked a tree about 250 yards away to aim at, and swung. Like a rocket that ball took off, not for the trees in the distance, but for the other golfers practicing at the range. As the ball shot past them, they spun to see what idiot was aiming for them. I quickly looked off in the distance as if following the flight of a well-hit ball. Then I looked to my friend. He said, "Okay. That was nice and smooth."

Ball after ball I hit, or attempted to hit, that afternoon. And despite my miserable shots he continued to focus on what I was doing right. In fact, amazingly, he suggested we go out again. And during all the times we went out, through hundreds of slices, hooks, and dribbles, he guided and encouraged me without fail. Not once did he double over in laughter. Not once did he shake his head in disbelief. Not once did he lose his patience. Not once did HE give up in hopelessness, even though I wanted to. After each practice time I would first only remember how lousy I hit the ball, but then I would remember my friend's words. I would realize that slowly, very slowly, I was improving. His words brought hope. And I actually grew to enjoy golf. I am no threat to Greg Norman, or even Greg Norman's daughter, bu ...

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