Posted by: pendrops | May 10, 2007

jump ropes and golf clubs


I don’t try new things. Nothing against new things, it’s just that my plate is plenty full with all the old things, the things I like, my faves. Things like reading, writing, rollerblading, watching hockey, cooking, crafting brilliant Pendrops articles, and eating chocolate.

Deep down though, I think there’s something else that stops me. Something to do with risk and fear of failure. As a gutsy little girl, you could often find me on top of cars, up in trees, or snooping around the more dangerous parts of our safe neighborhoods; you could find me trying new things, risky things, bound-to-fail things left and right.

Like the time I hooked a Care Bears jump rope around a nail hammered into the top of my bedroom door frame. I must have been eight or nine and had decided to scale the wall. And I did…for about five seconds. Then, when I was four or five feet off the ground, the nail bent and I hit the floor, knocking the wind out of my lungs.

As I heaved for air, my mom rushed around the corner and asked, “What are you doing?”

I just smiled, slowly regaining my breath. I had climbed the wall; that was all that mattered.

I don’t do things like that anymore, and for good reason. But in all my self-preservation, rationality and avoidance of stupid human tricks like climbing bedroom walls with a jump rope, I have failed to let in other new things, reasonably risky things. Things like golf.

I’ve never been interested in golf, never seen what’s so enticing about hitting a little white ball and watching it drop on the ground, never even picked up anything other than a putter for goofy golf. But after much urging from Jason, I decided to go with him and a friend to the driving range.

Straighten your left arm. Bend your knees. Think of the club as an extension of your arm. Don’t keep your elbows so close to your body. Loosen up. Bring your left wrist around the top of the club just a pinch. There you go! You look great!

I absorbed tips, critiques, encouragements and debatable theories for nearly 20 minutes, all the while swinging my club at a spot on the grass. Then our friend put a tee down in front of me and said, “Pretend that’s the ball.”

I ran through the checklist of everything I’d learned, bending my knees, straightening my left arm, loosening my shoulders. Then I swung. The tee popped straight up and landed back in the ground, sticking in the grass almost exactly where it had been before I hit it.

“If there had been a ball on that, you would have hit it dead center,” our friend said, picking up a ball to set in front of me. “Now, do that again.”

“And don’t take your eyes off that spot,” Jason said, reminding me of the most important rule of golf. “Even after you’ve hit the ball, don’t take your eyes off that spot in the grass.”

I nodded, took a deep breath, pulled the pitching wedge back and swung it again.

There was silence for a slow-motion moment while I stood frozen, staring at the grass. When I finally looked up, I found the grass-stained ball arched high, hanging in the air before bouncing down between the 50- and 100-foot markers.

I hit several more balls that bounced flatly in front of me and experienced the empty whoosh of complete whiffs. I’m even proud to say that today, my second day out on the range, I gained a painful blister on my right thumb, a sign that I was trying to control the club with the wrong hand.

But I think I’m onto something here, this new risky thing. Because there’s a deep satisfaction that can only be found when I dare to do something out of my comfort zone, something with failure in tact, something like hitting a little white ball and watching it soar.



  1. Yeah yeah yeah, nice article. I’m just mad that you are already better than I was after I had been swinging a club for about a year.

    (just kidding… you did great and I’m cheering you on!)

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