My 75th is coming up end of October. I don’t ask for much. Drives on the fairway, 230, consistent, bullet trajectory, on the screws. Pick the right approach club. Solid strike. On the green. Birdie chance. Good chips. No yips. No flubs. No chunks. No skulls. Nice putts. No pulls. No pushes. Nothing too short. Nothing too long. No, I repeat, no three putts. No 45 footers that wind up 12 feet from the cup. That’s all I ask. Is that too much for a 75 year old to want? Now that I think on it, probably is. But a man can hope, especially on a 75th birthday. Damn, I deserve it. It’s not easy reaching such an age in one piece. Well, relatively one piece. OK, maybe two or three pieces. But the heart still beats; and the legs still walk (yep, got a cool three-wheeler and still pushing’); and the hands still grip; and the eyes still squint and check the rangefinder; and, though I lost every one at one point, the hair still combs. What else? The fingers still write and keep score; the back still supports me, the brain still course manages; the ears still listen; and the pecker, though I lost the ability at one point, still pees.
So I’m grateful. I’m still out here playing golf. Ain’t that the bee’s knees! The cat’s meow. A corker. I’m out in the elements, playing a demanding yet fun game, having hopes of improvement even at 75. What other sport is like that? Beach volleyball? Basketball? Handball? Baseball? Bowling? Football? Soccer? Pickleball? Ironman? Nah. None of them really. But golf, golf you can play half decently until the day you die. I’ve played with a 90 year old who kept the ball in play and hit it on the screws. And with today’s equipment, he got decent distance as well. And most importantly, he was still having fun, and had something interesting to tell the wife other than how many craps he took that day.
So I am playing this game three years after my doc told me I had stage four lymphoma giving me some percentage to survive that weakened my knees. She was a great lady, that doc. Chinese American. Delicate as an orchid. Yet hard as a drill sergeant telling me she was going to “hit that cancer hard” with an ammo belt of chemo meds called R-CHOP. And she did, and here I am, close to celebrating my 75th, my wife, Ruth, still by my side.
Now what? A pandemic. But what do you know, golf courses are open. Maybe the best coronavirus-defying sport on the planet. Social distancing? No problem. As a shy kid, it was one of the reasons I took up golf at 14. Masks? At the grocery, fine. But playing golf, you don’t need them since you’re outside and far enough away from your playing partners. And golf keeps the immune system strong, which I just made up on the chance no one will fact-check me. But seriously, it does keep my mood elevated and even helps me sleep.
Fires and smoke. Can’t play or practice outside with this smoke. That’s OK. I’ll keep swinging without a club in my living room. Keep my positions intact and part of my memory map. Watch the pros on TV. Not just for entertainment, but to learn something of how they do what they do. Winds are supposed to shift some today. Even some rain coming in next week. Smoke will clear. Fires will end. Pandemic will fade. Eventually.
75. Bring it on. Pedal to the metal. Full speed ahead. Land Ho! First tee. Oh shit. I forgot to put my socks on!
Peace, y’all. Keep swinging.