Ah, the Whiff

I am back from my Myrtle Beach golfing trip. The weather cooperated until the last day when it got too cold and windy to play.

Friday morning we had a 7:32 start time at Heather Glenn Golf Club. This is a very nice public course, but you loose some of the golf ambience and refinement when compared to a private course. The facilities were wonderful, but the staff while efficient was impolite at best.

The place is run like a busy airport with radio equipped golf rangers getting you started on time, and others make sure you are moving along during your round in their patrol carts with two way radios.

So you basically stand around until your name is called, and then you get in your cart and advance to the first tee. At the first tee, you may see three foursomes lined up to start their round. This is where the pressure starts.

At the first tee you are alone with your ball, but you have a silent audience behind you anxious to get their turn. On the tee box, you are allowed to place your ball on an elevated tee. You take a few practice swings and then attempt to make contact with the ball and bust a good drive straight and long. Dozens of thought are going through your mind as you address the ball. Finally, the moment of truth, when you rare back and take your swing. At the moment of contact you have a pretty good idea of whether you hit a good shot. Hopefully you stand there, keeping your pose, and watch you ball sail for the next 5 or 6 seconds straight and long while hearing accolades from you private gallery behind you.

Sometimes this doesn’t happen. Sometimes you hit the ball and something was badly wrong with your setup. The ball may look good at first and then take a right mid flight deep into the woods. This is a classic slice and I can expect one or more of these hits during a round. Other bad shots are a shank where the takes a horrible turn at contact and it goes straight out from the front of your body. Lastly the dreaded Dickie shot where the ball doesn’t advance as far as the Ladies tee.

But nothing brings more shame than the whiff. A whiff is when all things are good mechanically, the audience is watching, you rare back and completely miss the ball. It is not uncommon for your audience to loose it completely and burst into a roar of laughter.

I was watching this 16 year old boy getting ready to hit his first shot at the number 1 tee box. He was tall and lanky with a very flexible torso. He was simply loosening up and waiting for the foursome ahead to clear out of harms way. His practice swings were a thing of beauty. Finally, he addressed the ball and swung only to whiff and nearly auger himself in the ground.

We sat in dead silence because of his age and told him we all have done it because we have. Inside we were all rolling with laughter. Poor kid. He did manage a fantastic second drive attempt and seemed to play at a very good level.

Illustration by Mike Okamoto.