If a Tree Falls in the Forest...
…and you know the rest. That’s the age-old question from philosopher’s around the world isn’t it? If you’re not there in the forest to see or hear at that time a tree is falling does in fact make a sound? If you think yes, how do you know, and if you think no, how do you know?? By the way I’m in the yes camp. Recently I had an experience while on the driving range, and as I walked off the range in total darkness I was pondering a similar philosophical question; if no one saw the magic on the range is it worth sharing…?
Last week I decided that I would hit the range after work to kill time in order to beat traffic before I headed home. When I arrived @poppyridge the parking lot was all but empty. As I ascended the stairs to the range I was met with an unusual site; the entire range was completely void of golfers leaving the late evening and calm conditions to me and me alone. What followed was short of amazing.
I went through my normal practice progression from gap wedge to driver and things were going just fine, kind of average. I’m working on rhythm and staying connected to my right arm. If you think Fred Couples, my golf idol, then you know what I’m talking about. There is no smoother swing in golf, even today…ask anyone. As I was getting ready wrap up this one guy, the only guy who showed up during my practice session began to wrap up his session and asked if I wanted to finish his bucket. By the way, this is a very cool thing about golf…. Sharing un-used golf balls in your range bucket happens, a lot. I try to return the favor whenever I can.
By the time I moved my bag to his stall I was all alone once again. I began hitting my 6 iron again. Shot after shot was on line and reaching the same distance one after another. I found something missing with my swing. I turned to see if anyone, anywhere was witnessing this, nobody was there. I moved to driver; shot after shot launched to the center of my target each and every time. I was hitting free and easy with no other thought in my head; rhythm and connection, I kept thinking just emulate Freddie. 15 in a row, step back, breathe, and another 15 in a row. Imagine a feeling of complete control wrapped in the perfect day. The sun setting, the smell of fresh cut grass, and a mix of cool and warmth at the same time wrapped around you.
Unfortunately, the bucket ran dry. With a real sense of what it means to me to be in the “zone” I moved to the putting and chipping area. As the sun hovered on the horizon and still just living in the moment of rhythm and ease I decided to see how my “punch” shot was working. I’ve been working on the this “punch” shot in my garage golf Do-Jo. This is a shot with my gap wedge on a tight lye. I dropped 5 golf balls out about 20 feet away from the cup. I proceeded to “punch” the ball 3 to 10 feet from the cup. I retrieved the balls and tossed them in various distances out onto the chipping area at least 10 tens and each time I had the same results. I even dropped two into the cup.
On to putting. I decided I would take my 5 golf balls and randomly roll the balls onto and near the practice putting green. I had two balls that settled onto the fringe of the green 10 to 15 feet away from the cup and 3 other balls settled on the practice green measuring about 10, 15, and 35 feet from the cup. My goal was to putt to 2 cups before it got dark. I began putting to cup one with balls on the fringe. The first putt from 15 feet drops in, the second 10-foot fringe putt lips the cup and rolls toward the other 3 balls about 12 feet away. I now ready myself to putt these 4 putts to the cup and I start with the closest ball. 10 feet away, in. 12 feet away, in. 15 feet away in, and last but not least 35 feet away, in.
As I slowly take my 35-foot walk to the hole there is no fist pump, no cheers, no fanfare. Just a quiet look skyward, a subtle knot to anyone who might be watching. As I pick up the 5 balls in the cup I look to the completely empty course, vacant parking lot, and darkening sky knowing this experience was truly only for me. There’s something special in that, and there’s something lonely in that as well. I guess this is another unique aspect of golf; sometimes magical moments will be experience only by that lone golfer. Could I be on to something? Is this the true essence of golf?