Joanne "Allie" Williams
posted on August 12, 2010 20:29
Any journey begins with a walk, actually, starts as a small step which morphs into a giant leap for mankind. Poetry, art, science and athletics are vested in the walk which is mans fundamental movement. In sports, walking is addressed with different meanings for basketball & baseball. But it’s in golf where the walk links the shots and the players reveal all.
In a golf tournament, the players walk the course, all 18 holes, for four days until a total of 72 holes are completed. No carts. On the opposite end of the spectrum there is the young, newcomer to golf who might have the money for greens fees but not for a cart, so they also walk.
Early in our marriage, we were broke but spry and loved golf so we made do by playing munis (municipal courses), walking and carrying our light bags with the bare essentials of clubs. That was my introduction to the game and became our routine. We found more balls than we lost and generally enjoyed each other’s company while on a lovely stroll in some beautiful settings. Back in the day, you were permitted to walk most public courses and we played some great ones in Florida, South Carolina, Maine and in Massachusetts where we lived the first four years after we were married. In fact, the historic Chestnut Hill Country Club, which had gone public, was just 5 minutes from our apartment. In the late 70’s & early 80’s, on trips to Martha’s Vineyard, we’d take our bikes and our clubs on the ferry and play at Farm Neck, a public course with the most magnificent ocean views. One of the most impressive courses we ever played and walked was at Ingonish, Nova Scotia. Laid out in true Scottish golf tradition, the mountains fell into the sea. The fairways were like meadows where sheep grazed on several holes and it was nearly impossible to keep ones mind on the shot. The place was distracting with its beauty. I’m not sure I played all 18 since darkness fell and I picked up my ball, finishing the round as an evening stroll. The streams, meandering along, doubling as water hazards, generously offered dinner. Bob traveled with a rod as well as his clubs & caught Brook trout for our evening meal.
The years of walking made me a player/fan as I can visualize how a pro walks up to the ball, all the while on the approach taking in the landscape and working out in the head what the next shot will require.
However, the combination of age and arthritis has shot me all up with empathy. As a member of the gallery, for a recent PGA tournament, I walked at least 18 holes, more like sprinted back and forth among 25 holes looking for the best view of the leaders. Phil & Tiger didn’t disappoint since the chance to watch the men walk the walk was as revealing and as instructional as their shots.
Phil is a sentimental favorite and was nearly carried upon the shoulders of the gallery as waves of empathy and enthusiasm lifted him.
Tiger’s measured cadence was simplistically authoritative. He’d clearly been there before. He’s still a player who maximizes his every move and teaches us not to waste a single step.
It was Neil Armstrong, another American hero who taught us to focus on the small steps of an individual that lead to the entirety of the journey. Neil must have read Golf in the Kingdom to have been able to relish the small footfalls. And didn’t they play golf on the moon a few years later? Of course they did. It wasn’t baseball or basketball, now was it?