Monday, January 4, 2010


A year ago today, I broke my right wrist when I went over the handlebars of my bike while riding down Santa Monica Boulevard. Just before my ride, the woman who had moved to Knoxville, Tennessee three weeks before, the one who made it clear that we were not and would never be a couple, texted me these words: Don't you wish we were fucking?

This text came five days after she emailed me nude pictures of herself, a bit of salacious electronic communication that completely confused me, since we had definitively broken up two weeks prior to that.

So, as I rode down the street a year ago, my mind was on how I should respond to her text. I was three blocks from where I intended to pull over to text her ... something ... though I had no idea what to say. The passenger door on a green economy car suddenly opened into the bike lane, and time slowed down enough to allow me to contemplate how I should land, whether I could avoid landing on my bad back and how painful my collision with the blacktop was going to be. Very, it turned out. Not surprisingly, the cast and rehabilitation didn't improve my golf game one iota.

What a difference a year makes. Today my father and I teed it up at Buenaventura Golf Course in Ventura, and as we stood on the first tee, I said, "Pops, we're going to flirt with 80 today," knowing full well that we had never shot a score in that vicinity. I was more than half joking, but I looked at the low slope of 114 and the short yardage from the white tees (5412), and I kinda-sorta believed we could best-ball our way to a really good score. I had absolutely no idea that the practice I put in yesterday would pay off so resoundingly, that my drives would repeatedly bisect the fairways and stop 275 yards from the tee, that my wedge play would settle us on the large greens often and that we would putt nearly lights out. We missed an uphill birdie putt on the first hole from eight feet, then another from a lousy 3 and a half, but otherwise, we found the bottom of the holes to the tune of 25 total putts. We shot a flippin' two-over 72. We had no idea that we could flirt so scandalously with par.

Enthused and wanting more, we set out again.

Soon I wondered if we had made a mistake, since we started double bogey, bogey, a stumbling start that seemed to suggest that we were lucky and in a zone during the first round, that our real games would reveal themselves and that we would score somewhere in the mid-80s, probably with a mulligan each. But we proved that at least for today, on that course, in this new year, while embracing a new philosophy and a belief that improvement, success and happiness are all well within grasp, we still managed to roll in three more birdies, missing another by half a turn, and missed an eight foot eagle putt in the dark on the 36th hole of the day by half an inch. We went 38-37.

Today was indisputably the best day of golf I've ever had. Playing well was fantastic, but sharing laughs with my father and watching him drill one long putt after another was transcendent.

Albert Einstein said, If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.

My goal is self-improvement, and my golf game improved exponentially today.

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