Monday, August 07, 2006

The Zen of the Driving Range

"In so many ways, his family's life feels like a string of accidents, unforeseen, unintended, one incident begetting another. ... And yet these events have formed Gogol, shaped him, determined who he is. They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end." -The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

It's something I'm continually trying to learn, that disappointments are petty and that life goes on.

The day after the driving range, this spot on my thumb was sore and filled with fluid. But it's finally deflating, hardening. (I used to get blisters all the time as a kid playing on the monkey bars, but now that my days consist of sitting at a computer, there's no time for that.) Maybe if I ever get serious about this, I'll get some golf gloves.

I've been going to the Chelsea Piers driving range during summer hours, taking advantage of the weekday daytime specials. Last Friday I chose the "Ball Blitz," $20 an hour for unlimited balls and free club rental. The day was clear and hot. Only occasionally did a breeze lift off the Hudson, relieving everyone of us perched on the multistory driving range.

I love going to the driving range, though I've only been a few times. (Many thanks to Athena and Tomo for introducing me to it.) I have no interest in learning how to play golf, but I find the act of hitting the ball itself very calming and meditative. I don't worry about where the ball goes, though it is always satisfying when my club connects perfectly with the ball. It makes this certain sound--maybe there's a physical term for it, the same sound one hears when a bat hits a baseball dead-on or when one makes a desirable break in pool--a significant crack, not a superficial sound at all.

And then tracking the ball against a blue sky. After my hour was up, I watched two men practice their swings. They both looked like serious golfers, with appropriate attire, their own sets of clubs, concentration. My routine had been to swing every few seconds, almost as quickly as the balls came up out of the ground (one of the things I love about the Chelsea Piers driving range is the automation, no need to retrieve balls out of a machine, stooping over repeatedly to set the ball on top of the tee). But these two men would each focus on his ball, swing, observe the ball's flight, absorb the outcome, gather himself mentally for the next swing. Their golfballs would arc through the air, describing mathematical equations.

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Blogger athena said...

I'm surprised my brother hasn't commented here on this entry yet. XD

Yeah, there is some satisfaction in the "THWACK!" sound isn't there? But I shouldn't praise it too much or my brother's gonna bug me to go to driving range with him when I'd rather veg out in front of computer, lol.

Automation, awesome! That must be a nice perk.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,

I enjoy hitting balls at the range also. There's definitely a calming quality in working on the swing and of course it's nice when the ball takes flight :) Maybe eventually you'll even pick up your own golf club(s)? :)

we should go to the range next time you're in town


9:11 PM  

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