Well, I woke up this morning pretty much dead sore from the neck down. Every bone in my body is aching like I hit a brick wall at a full out sprint. My muscles feel like that inch-thick, gelatinous fat cake that forms at the top of the pan above the Christmas ham, after it’s been sitting in the fridge for a day or so. At this point, I would give anything for a full body massage, a wide-open IV drip of a morphine/coffee cocktail and a full body cast. You’d think from this description I would have been involved in a massive wreck, rode a PBR bull named Spike or had gone ten rounds with Muhammad Ali. Nope, nothing that dramatic. I was a willing participant in a full-day outing of…golf.
I know what you’re thinking. Golf? Yes, golf. Here’s the thing. My three youngest sons work odd hours that might include nights, days and sometimes the weekends. And with Father’s Day upon us, they wanted to take me to do something memorable.
I’ve loved the game of golf, since I began playing in the late ‘70’s back in my Navy days. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for me get in a round of golf every afternoon. I played a lot, but I was in a lot better shape. I know round is a shape, but it’s not conducive to physical activity, especially if there is effort involved.
My sons took up golf earlier this year and fell in love with the game like I did so long ago. With this past weekend being the only weekend all three of them had off together for about a month, they sprung the surprise on me. Little did they know they were about to unleash a painful reminder on me of just how out of shape I truly am.
So your next question is, how can you be so sore after playing golf? When I was active duty in the Navy, you had to work out if you wanted to pass the annual physical fitness test and not be put on the “fat boy” program. So, four or five days a week, I’d involve myself in some sort of sport…softball, golf, weights, tennis, touch football or jogging. I was in top shape when I was their age. But, I don’t work out at all now. Let me repeat that. I don’t work out, AT ALL! And I ain’t their age anymore and this morning, that’s painfully obvious.
One promise I made to myself and have kept up faithfully, is that after I retired from the Navy, I’d NEVER work out again. Well by golly, I’ve kept that promise and yesterday proved that aching truth. I’m 55, severely out of shape and wondering where did that svelte, thin, muscular body go to? I mean, I’m ONLY 55. I shouldn’t look or feel like this! When the boys told me we were going to play a golf course in Fort Worth, I was excited and was anxiously awaiting our tee time.
I overlooked the first of what may have been several hints as to how bad of shape I was in, when I pulled the clubs out of storage. I struggled to put the bag on my shoulder, all the while thinking, “What’s in this bag, a body?” No matter, I easily had the bag in the truck after I strained, lifted and grunted for a full minute shoving the bag to the top of the tailgate. Then, I propped it up on my knee and finally in one mighty heave, I lifted it up, it hit the tailgate and crashed to the ground. So I had to start all over. Of course, I had to take a break after that. I didn’t think I was going to have the strength to lift my arms over my head to close and lock the storage building, much less put the bag in the truck. So, better sense prevailed and I lowered the tailgate, lifted the bag and finally had it in the truck. I don’t remember the tailgate ever being that heavy. So, lifting, turning myself around and shoving the tailgate closed with what energy was left in my jello, err, legs, the tailgate successfully closed. So before I even get to the course, I need a muscle relaxer. I met the boys at my youngest son’s house, we piled everything into his truck and took off. How did my bag get into the back of his truck you might ask? Good ole fashioned guilt.
They all pitched in and paid for my green fees and we drove the carts to the back of the truck, where I ingeniously used gravity as my companion to put the bag on the back of the cart. I scooted the bag’s bottom directly above the tray where the bags rest on the cart and kind of dropped it into place. It looked like I meant it that way and no one was the wiser.
The first twelve holes I saw the old magic return. I had three drives in excess of 250 yards and shot a respectable 50 on the front nine. And this is after not having lifted a club for over ten years. But don’t let that impress you too much. The thirteenth hole was waiting.
It was as if my body flipped a switch between twelve and thirteen that brought an immediate shut down of my strength, agility and desire to play this torturous game. The driver that I had swung so freely and powerfully, suddenly was an anvil in my hands. It hurt to put the ball on the tee and I almost paid one of the boys to place it for me. But, my mind thought through the pain and I managed to get the ball on the tee…after I got on my knees and steadied my shaking hand. Twelve holes and I’m reduced to a whining, aching mass of pain. I was suddenly a victim of two kinds of seizure…joint and muscle.
Up to that point, I was schooling the youngsters on the finer aspects of the gentleman’s game of golf. At the thirteen hole, I suddenly had a renaissance, an epiphany of sorts, that made me rearrange my thinking. This game stinks to high Heaven and is for those that have psychotic tendencies.
Well, since I was unable to hit the ball down the fairway at that point, I would throw it on the ground and give it a swift kick down the fairway. My arms felt like broken, numb appendages that were useless and had evolved into lifeless stumps over the course of the last five hours.
Finally, the last putt falls, the flag is back in the hole and we’re all in our carts headed to the parking lot. As I’m falling out of the cart, desperately groping for the tailgate of my sons truck, I hear a conversation developing. The three of them… have decided… for the four of us… we’re going to a nine-hole course and continue this madness! Silly me, I thought they were doing something nice for me today instead, they’re driving me to each hole with the final one being a hole in the ground!
By this time it’s late afternoon and we’re all starving. So we go to the local buffalo wing place and take a seat and start cooling down. They were laughing and cutting up while I was in the corner melting into a puddle of sweaty, exhausted fatigue. The food came and I started downing the cold water as I ravaged my plate. It was like I couldn’t get enough. We sat there for at least an hour and I slowly felt the pain and stiffness subsiding. I’m not sure if it was the twelve wings, half order of pulled pork nachos and the six tenders I ate or the half gallon of water that was bringing me back. I also suspect that half a bottle of Tylenol I ate like plain M & M’s on the way to the restaurant might have helped too. Nonetheless, I was starting to get a second wind. Sort of like an old tomato plant that’s wilted to the ground due to lack of water. Well, my stems were rehydrated, my stomach was full and I was feeling better. But it wasn’t the “run the Boston Marathon” better, but the “I can now walk without getting a charley horse”, better.
By the time we arrived at the second course, I was ready. I was still a bit stiff and had an aching neck, but I silently whimpered through the pain to the first hole. I didn’t want the boys to think I was a washed up has been, complaining old fart, so I jumped up on the tee first and placed the ball on the tee, without effort mind you. I wiggled, waggled and took a swing. A solid connection with the ball and it was in the air headed toward the pin. The ball landed softly on the green, about 10’ – 12’ to the left and pin high! Yay me, I’m back!
We played through the last eight holes and to my amazement I finally worked out the kinks in my swing and in my body and I won the round. I shot a 36 and the boys shot 39, 39 and 41. I was still a bit stiff and sore, but nothing compared to the few hours prior.
As I look back today, I’m reliving the glory and the pain of yesterday, mostly the pain, but it was a fantastic day regardless and I can’t wait to get out there again. If one positive thing has come out of this, it’s that I now realize I’m not 25 anymore and that my body has its limits. I’m definitely not in any shape to partake in continued physical activity that requires walking, swinging your arms and breathing at the same time, without an extended period of warm up. But another plus is that it has made me think, maybe it’s time I re-thought that whole “I’m not working out ever again”.
As I drove to work today, I let my mind at least visit with the idea of starting a new workout routine. Of course I’d have to start slow or the pain would be back with a vengeance. So what should it be? Walking, running, stretching? I’m thinking all three…walking to the fridge instead of hollering at someone to bring me iced tea…running away from exercise instead of just turning my head… and finally, eating absolutely anything I want and stretching the limits of the waist band in my jeans. Sounds like a mighty fine plan to me.
Vaya con Dios mi amigos y amigas! God Bless y’all and God Bless Texas!