Golf is a game of misses because you only hit one or two good ones in a round. This translates to most of the shots you hit are missed. The biggest difference in my golf game now and my golf game before I had a stroke is that my misses are worse than they were before. This means that instead of just missing the pins, sometimes I miss the green. I still hit some good ones like I did before. The good ones are as good as they ever were, just not as many good ones in a round. What was encouraging about my round on Sunday was not my score, but the fact that I hit a lot of really good shots- particularly with my irons.
Winter golf around here has been very difficult because many of the shots have no turf at all. So you’re essentially playing shots off of wet mud. It’s a beauty that the Bermuda grass is starting to grown on the fairways. The ball sits up a little higher making it easier to make solid contact.
We are very lucky to have such good pork at the farmers markets in this area. A few years back, many of the small farmers and vendors started the side business of raising hogs. Most of the cuts of their pork are really good. In my opinion, the sausages that they have made for them out of the trimmings all have the same issue.
Don’t get me wrong, I still buy them and try each new one that I encounter. Whoever they use to make the sausage grinds the meat too fine. The best analogy that I can give for this is the making of a hamburger patty… Most people know that you don’t press the patty too tightly so there are not air pockets within the meat. If pork sausage is ground correctly, there are air pockets within the meat where juices can collect. When you take a bite, it’s juicy instead of dry. Who doesn’t like a juicy bite?
Sausage is the original convenience food, a wonderful invention. In the fall and winter, I eat it at least once a week. I do appreciate the local farmers way of spicing their sausages. I always serve them with some kind of cooked greens. The other night I braised some local cabbage and had sausage with it. The cooking liquid does help to keep the sausages from being too dry.
I have an old friend, one of my dearest friends who also had a stroke. He has some of the same disabilities as I do. When I speak with Stephen, he seems to be able to find the blue sky in his new life easier than I. For awhile, I felt bad about my inability to find the blue sky. My neurologist told me that even though we had a similar kind of stroke, everyone’s brain is unique. Now I find Stephen’s ability to articulate the blue sky encouraging and inspiring.
This post is about some of my own ability to see blue sky. A frustrating and maddening aspect of my rehab is my inability to perceive or acknowledge any improvement that I make. I have so many friends who thankfully point out and are articulate about how I have improved. Billy Leahey and Annie Smith come to mind, as well as Peter Roy. Billy talks to me about how much better I get around physically. Annie remarks how much my face looks like it did pre-stroke.
The last four rounds of golf that i have played, I felt better out there on the green. I played better, I enjoyed myself more. It was unavoidable even for me to miss. A big shout out to Billy Leahey and to all of my golfing partners for all of their patience with me and their encouragement. I believe a catalyst for this improvement came from something that Billy Leahey said to me a few weeks back. He said, “Lex when you were a good player. You were quite deliberate. Now you move so fast it looks like you’re just trying to get it over with.” When I thought about his comment, I realized that he was right. I even figured out why I did that. Part of it is that I am impulsive. Another part is that I feel disoriented and discombobulated setting up for a shot. The actual swinging of the club is the least disorienting part.
In golf, visualization is crucial. Connecting with the target is essential. So when I played three Friday’s ago with Mick Charles and Jon Christensen, I made a commitment to myself to try to take a little more time. When I felt disoriented, I would breathe through that disorientation and try to find a target for my shot. I was successful and played a lot more quality shots in that round.
My next round was with Billy Leahey. I played with Billy last Thursday at Finley. I made the same commitment. I told him about my success at Hope Valley. In that round, with Billy serving as a defacto caddy for me, I made 8 pars and an eagle. I broke 80.
Lastly, I played with my regular group on Sunday at Duke. I again hit a lot more quality shots. With the handicap they give me, I won the $2 for low round. More importantly than winning the $2, was the comment from my steady golfing companion for over 20 years, Larry Eimers, who said – “Lex you played a really good round today, a solid improvement. You should let this success wash over you.”
Recognizing my improvement in this area of my life makes me hopeful that maybe I will be able to improve in other areas of my life. Maybe I will be able to drive a car one day. A beauty to more blue skies for everyone!