Round One of the Year: Rope Rider

It was a chilly day for golfing. After a long winter, I was excited to get back out, and there were new clubs in my bag. Adjusting to them was going to be challenging. As they were much lighter than my previous set. Hopefully, the lighter weight would improve my ability to play with my disability. Adding to the anticipation, time was beginning to tick away on getting prepared. The annual golf trip to Oregon was closing in fast. Scheduled for the first weekend in June. Leaving me with just five weeks to dust off the winter rust. Along with a life which provides one day a week to play. So, I make the ninety-minute trip up into the mountain. One of my favorite places to play golf, even in the cold weather. This particular day had question marks all over. The forecast looked to have temperatures touching fifty. There looked to be an hour of rain predicted. Just to make things more interesting. It was the last week of April. Leaving me to believe it couldn’t be all that bad. People around the course looked more like they were dressed for skiing. I had taken some precautions by layering up more than usual. With extra clothing shoved into the extra pockets of my bag. Playing in adverse weather wasn’t a new scenario. Plus, it was partly sunny when I stood on the first tee, ready to go. Having no idea just how the day would turn. 

The first round of golf, after time spent away, can be tricky. In the area I live, we rarely have the opportunity to play during the winter months. Golf has been played on a winter vacation. But, that amounts to three rounds in the middle of a six-month absence. Adding to the challenge this year was the new irons. The much lighter weight in the golf shaft was going to add intrigue. Following my average tee shot on the first. One, in which the stiffness of months away could be felt. It was time for the all-important first swing. I had spent one session on the driving range with the new irons. However, this would be the first shot in the middle of live action. When the result of my swing truly mattered. Pulling out the 7-iron for my second shot. The first swing with my new irons. The ball lifted off the clubface well. Feeling better than the previous 7-iron from my older set of irons. Leaving me with a feel-good smile. We were off to a good start. Through the next six holes, the sun continued winning its battle with the dark clouds. I hit a few irons here and there, some for longer shots, and others within shorter range. The new irons seemed to be flying a further distance. But, there still was hard evidence of this fact. At least not until reaching the par-3 seventh. 

After feeling my way through the first six holes. Hitting irons from various positions in the fairway. I felt it was time for the first test with these new sticks. The seventh hole has historically called for the 8-iron. The hole plays slightly uphill to an elevated green. From the tee box I hit from, the surface of the green is only in partial view. My 8-iron often end up just short of the green. The pin position for this day was on the front quadrant of the surface. Leaving me the opportunity to pull out one club shorter than usual. With the new irons, I chose to give the 9-iron a try, on the seventh. Testing my theory, the new irons were traveling further. The ball was struck well. Flying through the air at a good trajectory. It landed just a foot onto the front of the green. Rolling to about ten feet to the left of the cup. Good feelings ran throughout my body. Realizing these new irons flew further than the older irons had. Even so, the lighter weight would take some work to master. The remainder of my round was filled with some up and down iron contact. Until, the added length showed itself again on the seventeenth. Another par-3 had me pulling one less club than usual. Choosing the 5-iron instead of the hybrid, normally used. There was good contact, sending the ball rolling further into the green than I could remember the hybrid. Two par-3 holes with proof of added distance felt reassurance for my iron decision.

There was hardly time to recover from the joy of my tee shot on seven. The eighth fairway brought a drastic change in weather. Dark clouds had moved in on all sides. Without a view of a lightness, as I made a full turn, with eyes on the sky. In my experience at Suncadia, any kind of meaningful rain is rare. I have experienced some drizzle, but nothing making me want an umbrella. When I came across a couple on the eighth tee, skipping holes to make their way inside. The concern began to mount in my mind. Because, in my mind, rain around here was gentle and short lived. Well, there’s a first time for everything. It was never raining heavily. Though, the steady drizzle lasted for the next six holes. Adding to the discomfort of this rain was the cold temperatures. I have rarely reached points at which my fingers begin losing feeling. But, it happened on this day. Just before the sun reappeared on the fourteenth. From the middle of the fourteenth fairway, the round was pleasant, as it came to a close. My fingers came back to life. The body started moving more comfortably. All leading to the excellent 5-iron I struck on the par-3 seventeenth. Causing me to feel happy about sticking it out through the tough conditions. Though, if I see an hour worth of rain in the forecast again. I’ll be inclined to stay home. 

The cold can be challenging on the body of any person. Weather might cause movement to be more difficult to execute. Like many movement patterns, cerebral palsy adds to this challenge. The weather carried an impact on the way my body moved that day. Leading me to think about coming off the golf course, like others I saw escape the elements. But, giving up on something doesn’t feel good. By the time, I finished up. I was happy with my ability to stick with the day. Even with my added physical limitations. The round of golf brought me one step closer to being ready for Oregon. Giving me the opportunity to gain comfort with the new irons. The round helped me understand the advantage of lighter golf clubs. They give me the ability to swing more freely. Which might turn out to be a blessing and a curse. The heavier clubs of my past seemed to do much of the work during my swing. I like the heavier clubs, because it felt like I could guide them. The lighter ones might produce more distance. But, they also seem to ask for a more purposeful swing. I always thought a more weighted club would be better with my disability. It seems likely I wasn’t correct with that guess. The new clubs could make for an interesting year. Hopefully, I’ll be adequately ready for Oregon. 

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