FORT JACKSON, SC -- I will never forget the first time I took a full swing at a golf ball. Three successful lessons in pitching, putting and chipping in the "Get Golf Ready" course at the Fort Jackson Golf Club had me feeling confident that it would be easy. In my mind, the short game and iron shots were essentially the same. I just had to swing harder, right'

Wrong.

As I set up at the driving range, with a 9-iron in hand, and addressed the ball, I envisioned lofting the itsy-bitsy golf ball roughly 100 yards to drop softly left or right of the pin. Before taking a backswing, I mentally replayed everything that I had been taught by the pro instructors. I aligned my feet and knees parallel to the target. I leaned forward at the hips, allowing my arms to dangle relaxed. I bent my knees slightly, distributed my weight evenly and made sure the ball was parallel with the inside of my front foot.

OK. 1-2-3-swing! W-h-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-s-h!

All air, no ball. Luckily the club head did not hit the ground or I would have broken my wrist.

Strike one for the intern.

If hitting a 9-iron is the hardest golf technique to master, then hitting a sand wedge is a close second. Did you know there are times in golf when the objective is to play the ball without actually hitting it' The concept was completely illogical to me as I listened to the instructor explain a sand shot- which is when the club explodes through the sand and lifts the ball into the air with a thin layer of sand still under it- and the importance of accelerating and committing to the shot.

Anyone who really knows me can tell you that I have a hard time doing anything that doesn't make sense to me. So even after the instructor, who had been playing golf for years, clearly explained the bunker shot, I decided to do things my way, and only follow 50 percent of his advice.

The iron accelerated as I committed to the swing. So far, so good.

But instead of following through with the club head and cutting through the sand, I got all ball, no sand. The result was even more disastrous than my first swing on the driving range. Instead of floating over the lip of the bunker, the ball ricocheted and nearly hit another student in the head.

Strike two for the intern.

After four days of learning the what, when, where, why and how of golf, I was set loose on the course. Once the instructor put together the three foursomes, my team headed to the 15th hole. As if there was not already enough pressure with the PGA professional looking over my shoulder, just my luck the garrison commander, Col. Lillian Dixon, was in my group.

Who wants to be remembered as the intern who humiliated herself in front of the garrison commander because she couldn't hit a golf ball to save her life' I tried not to panic. I said a quick prayer before I got out of the cart and reminded myself that I thrive under pressure and always pull through when the heat is on. This time would be no different.

Wrong again.

No matter how many times I attempted to get the golf club in the right position, or mimic the exact stance that the instructor had demonstrated during our sessions, something always went haywire between my takeaway and impact with the golf ball.

Half the time, I missed the ball, which was becoming my signature shot, something made even more embarrassing when you have people watching you.

Another 48 percent of the time, I either ripped the ball, duck-hooking it to the left or banana-slicing it to the right. That means during our short-lived, two-hole competition, I only hit the ball correctly about 2 percent of the time.

Strike three for the intern.

Anyone who has ever attempted to learn golf knows that it's a very humbling sport - very, very, humbling. In a matter of seconds it can make an otherwise competent individual feel like an uncoordinated, floundering fool. For the golf legends like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson, feelings of idiocy were probably few and far between.

On the other hand, if you're new to the sport like me, for every 100 bad shots, you will probably have one good shot. But any fan of the sport will tell you that it's that one good shot and the dream of a hole-in-one that keeps you coming back, again, and again, and again.

Editor's Note: Field Day is an occasional column written by Public Affairs intern Sharonda Pearson. The column will highlight the post's various activities and offerings.
Visit www.playgolfamerica.com to register for the Player Development Programs, including the Get Golf Ready, offered by the Fort Jackson Golf Club.

Aca,!Ac The five-session Get Golf Ready program includes six hours of instruction from PGA professional and four hours of supervised play on the course. Participants learn the basics of golf, including proper golf etiquette, chipping, pitching, green-side bunker shots, correct iron use, and driving. The course costs $99.
Aca,!Ac The Fort Jackson Golf Club offers a variety of options, ranging from monthly free lessons, free 10-minute lessons, and the Get Golf Ready course, for anyone who wants to learn to play golf.
Aca,!Ac For the seasoned player the club offers an intramural golf league, First Friday Tournaments, couples tournaments, and the Senior Men's Club Championship.

Page last updated Thu May 13th, 2010 at 07:51