Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cleaning My Clubs

Every January, I like to bring my golf clubs out. There may be a foot of snow outside, but I am not preparing to play on this very cold day.

It's more of a therapeutic activity.

I am preparing for the days yet to come.

I set my clubs out in order - from wedges to long irons. I lay my persimmon woods out on a soft towel. I place my putter to the side. I get my warm bucket of soapy water, stiff bristle brush, and drying cloth set up along the side of my bench in the basement.

And I proceed to wash my clubs.

Golf is very important to me. Golf defines who I want to be. It is my analogy of how I must try to live my life.

I start with my driver, and as I wash and polish the cherry red of the persimmons wood - I think about faith. As I hold the driver shaft in my hand, I focus on the faith it takes to take that first step towards an objective. Usually that first step takes you the farthest, and the execution must be sufficient to provide you an opportunity to progress to the steps that follow.

From there I wash my fairway woods, where I think about opportunity. During a long par five, it's my fairway woods that offer me the greatest opportunity to increase my reward. And opportunities should not be wasted. Opportunities must be grasped and made true.

I then wash each of my long irons, one through six - each with varying degrees of loft. Each with varying degrees of distance they will carry. And I think of how far I have come, how lofty my goals have been, and how thankful that I have managed to navigate my course and still remain in play.

My short irons bring my thoughts to accuracy. Accuracy for how I approach the final steps. Accuracy for how I take those final steps for completing the task and achieving the goal. The closer I can strike to my target, the better my opportunity for accomplishment.

My wedges help me consider that those times when I miss the green, straying from my objective. Discipline and a gentle touch is required to recover from setbacks, and perhaps even surprise myself by chipping into the hole. To take a setback and turn it into a reward.

I wash my putter most delicately. I apply special softening agents to my grip, and polishing the brass face to clearly reflect on the target in sight. The putter must be used to place my shot at the target on the proper line, straight or undulating. The putter is used to close the deal. To realize the objective. It requires a gentle touch.

As I review the golf balls stored in their sleeves, I consider the integrity of how life should be lived.

Perfectly round.

And measured to ensure the roundness remains in tact. This ball, once put into play, must be played again from where it lies. No cheating. No improving my lie in ways unfair, untrue. I must remain true to myself to be judged so by others.

My gloves, shoes, tees, and other items are also cleaned and washed - as they are all those things that support me. They are those things that without, I am a lesser player in the game of life. As are my family, my friends.

Finally before I put them all away, I clean my golf bag. For this is the container that carries my tools through the round. This is my home. This is the baggage of all my possessions.

And with lesser tools I am a lesser player.

And without the integrity of these tools of my character, I am a lesser man.

But patience is also an important virtue.

And patience is best tested for a golfer by waiting out the January snow.

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