Who me? Off course?

A few wipe-outs at XTERRA. An exceedingly wide turn at the Camp Pendleton swim. Why should the 13th hole at the Black Gold golf course be any different? And who says you have to stay on course? Especially during the off-season. I had the perfect excuse for being rusty. I’ve been training.

Wait, that’s not to give you the misguided impression that I was ever good at golf. Hardly. This was my fifth time on a full-size golf course and I still made all kinds of newbie errors.

Shortly after I hit this brilliant shot that had us in fits of giggles, I hit another one right off a tree. I could no longer compose myself, and proceeded to pick up my ball on this hole.

My form was breaking down. My mental state was breaking down. Funny how 18 holes on a real course can feel like a marathon. I bonked. And I figured going off course was what this long-anticipated off-season was all about.

My training partner, Sandy, arranged for me to sub in an Executive Women’s Golf tournament to raise money for breast cancer. We played in honor of our friend Gail who passed away in August. Our golf bags were tagged with a Gail’s picture and her motto, “Life is worth the fight.”

Not only was it the perfect chance to get to know Sandy’s friends Collette (left) and Janice (second from left) better, but the ideal opportunity to play a little prank. See Sandy (the tall one) is an accomplished long-distance swimmer. She also has this fear of sharks. After the fourth hole, when she wasn’t looking, I slipped off one of her coveted USC club covers and replaced it with a shark cover that I found back East last summer. Everyone was in on it by the time we were on the fifth hole, except Sandy. When we she went to grab her club, we were all laughing.

It was the first time I actually played golf with Sandy. I had always admired her swim stroke. Now I’m in awe of her drive. I was also relieved that my drives weren’t too shabby. “Swimmers make good golfers,” she told me. I only wish swimming translated over to my chipping and putting. Or, heck, that driving the ball well translated over to my swimming. We had a great time and covered a lot more ground than I expected – even when I hit the ball straight.