Central Florida is hot and muggy. Our sticky summers send many scurrying for the north each year. As a native Floridian you would think I would be accustomed to these heat onslaughts. But I’m caught off guard every year. I find myself even attempting to justify residing in this hot box (and don’t let me get started on the politics of this sweaty state.) This summer, as the west suffered 107-degree days I naively noted how afternoon rain showers often cool down the 95+ degree heat. “So, we are better off here than in other parts,” I said reassuringly to my furry, panting, labradoodle one overheated afternoon. On the heels of that boast, I calculated the heat index. Combining the temp and the humidity level, the index registered a resounding 116 degrees!
The pathetic point of this diatribe is the fact I only calculated the index after playing golf that morning. Perhaps it was my tomato red face or the fact I almost fainted following my drive on the fourth hole that should have clued me in. By the eighth hole I was pondering whether the hat I was wearing was a good or bad idea. Was it really shielding me from the sun’s radiating rays, or was the hat just holding my head hostage to the heat? I think even my liver got a suntan that day.
But somehow, by the next day, hell it was probably even four hours later, I’d forgotten about the misery. I began planning my next golf outing. Sure enough, the following Sunday found me out on the links again. It doesn’t really matter the time of day in the month of August. Golfers like to pretend early morning golf is cooler. I think the dew emanating from fairway (actually from the rough where I typically find myself) generates even more humidity.
What is it about that stupid game I, and others, find so addictive? I guess I just answered my own question. It’s addictive. Each time I stand over that tiny, dimpled ball, I hope that maybe, just maybe, this time I will hit the ball on the sweet spot of the club face. That moment of impact is called “the moment of truth” and is excruciatingly satisfying. I admit to having used the word “orgasmic” to describe the satisfaction of hitting a good shot. A “good shot” is one that (a) travels an appropriate distance, and (b) manages to travel in the correct direction. Now, how often does that marriage happen? After ten years, I would have to say, “often enough”. Although I must say, my score at the end of most rounds does not reflect my level of enjoyment. Typically, I don’t play more than nine holes. I really wish I could find a golf course with a twelve-hole option. Eighteen is too many and nine too few. I also wish the cup on the greens was six inches rather than a measly four. A cup four inches in diameter on an undulated (definition: slopy) green makes for a ridiculously hard game.
As a thirty-year potter, I used to tell my golfer friends I had no intention of taking up the game. “Pottery is frustrating enough. I don’t need something else to test my patience.” So, I gave up pottery. I like being outside. I like the social aspect of the game. And I Love hitting the sh@! out of that stupid little ball. Friends and I have been known to dodge lightning strikes and pelting rain to finish a hole.
So, this post is a shout-out to my fellow ball enthusiasts. Do you feel the same compunction when you play tennis, pickleball, golf, racquetball, etc? Do you, on occasion, risk 116-degree heat and thunderclaps, to fulfill your ball-lust of choice? I just booked a flight for Chicago. I’m going to play in dryer, 70-degree weather up there. Oh yes, and I’m going to visit my kids and grandchildren too. See you on the links….