Never has so much bliss and ignorance come together to provide one of the greatest moments in one’s life. It was a spring afternoon. School was over and I was dropped off in the gravel parking lot of Bolton Field Golf Course. I was so excited that I ran into the snack shop to pay, and learned of the pro shop, and that is where I must pay. Whoops! I paid my green fees with money I had saved from caddying. This was it! I have been lugging bags for dough for two years and now I finally get to experience what the guy on the other side of the bag feels. I have a set of clubs from 1962 courtesy of my grandfather Orrin Kuhnsman. The bag was canvas and leather with a leather strap and held Spalding first flights with rusty shafts and worn slick leather grips. One of the whippings on the cleek (a four wood for non historians, yes actual wood!) was unraveling. I had a driver, brassie, a spoon, a cleek, and a five wood, a two iron thru wedge and a putter. With a mixed assortment of found golf balls from work and a purchased bag of tees from the pro shop and I was ready.
I will always remember the look on the faces of the men on the first tee when I said it was my very first time. I was so excited and friendly that I took no offense when they said I should play by myself. So I watched them tee off and shuffle off the tee and anxiously awaited my turn. I had the luxury of caddying and I knew the rules, etiquette, and proper attitude from watching many with a bad attitude. Little did I know what this swing would mean to me and what chain of events it would put into motion that would be my life today. If I had any idea the meaning, I may not have ever swung at that golf ball. Instead, I line up blissfully and with much anxiety, I swung, made contact and hit the ball down the fairway with a slice and the feeling was like jumping in a pool on a hot summer day. I was relieved and excited. I picked up my bag and hustled off to my ball. I felt so much joy. I smelled the fresh cut grass and for the first time as a player, not as a caddie. I stand over my ball to hit and to such surprise; I hear a voice in my head. In all my little league and high school baseball, wrestling, and football, did I ever hear my own voice. At this moment, I became terrified. I thought I was crazy. 15 years old and I never had a voice telling me what to do and how to do it. I ignored it and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. It was there every shot. So, I accepted that I was going crazy and said a short prayer.
I felt a peace come over me that I had never felt before. A quiet and a mystic feeling that propelled me to listen and be a follower of myself. A confidence would come and go from the upcoming various shots. This confused me as I felt most confident in all I did. Doubts and some fear set in on some of the shots too. This was an experiment in the making. I felt an excitement and a desire to hit the next shot, I put the questions I had aside, and just walked briskly to the next shot.
I did not think it would be so hard to repeat this feeling I had on the tee just a few moments ago. Wow, was I in for a surprise. I took swing and missed. Next swing and topped it about 15 yards. The next swing was a slice short of the green. I chipped it long and hit the next ball past the pin. I putted it to two feet and put the next putt in the hole. I got my scorecard out and put an eight on the card. I wrote an 8 (snowman). My first hole in history was is in the record books. The rest of the round was very special. I had become aware of the course and its relationship it had with me as a player. A feeling of resistance, or a force that guided me and sometimes worked against me, led me to become a listener in between shots. I was overwhelmed by emotions at times. I made a bogey on number eight and that was the best score of the nine. I stopped at the turn and called my mom from the pay phone in the snack bar with so much excitement and let her know I had shot a 72. She said with excitement, I am so happy for you. I then informed her I was just making the turn and I would call her after I was done with eighteen holes. She laughed and said to enjoy the back nine.
I finished with a score of 135. I Scored a 63 on the back nine. I had improved from the front nine and I only lost one golf ball to the water hazard and counted every stroke. I never was angry about a swing or a missed shot. I felt so much joy when the ball was struck well and towards the intended target. I did not get upset when I three putted or lipped a putt. I was just as excited at the end of the round as I was at the beginning. Longing for the next time I could play again. My first experience was by myself and that is a bit unusual, but I became an enlightened man that day. I got the first look at myself and who I was on the course and off the course. That was the first moment that I developed a relationship with myself in detail. I am so grateful for that day. It was the beginning of a path that has led me the man and golf professional I am today.
I often reflect on that day and what happened to that blissful young man. Where did the joy, bliss, ignorance, and ambition go? Why do I care so much how I play and score now? Why can’t I just detach and be that kid again? Well, I strive for that demeanor with each round I play. I have a few secrets to help me find that place again. My best rounds have been just that, blissful and detached. Through this state of mind, Dynamic Disinterest is achieved!