It was easy to smile, even when my par putt across the green broke off six inches too early, leaving my trademark grimace-face ball mark staring back at me mockingly from aside the hole. A quick tap, and my 81st golf hole and my day was done.
It was a very good day, and believe it or not, it was one I was not at all ready to see end. I always hate to see great days like this one head literally into the sunset.
The only reason we didn't head to the 82nd tee? Darkness began to close in, and my partner and I weren't at all sure we could find the tee shots if we hit them. Had there been any chance, we would have continued to play on...continued to raise money to help families that were battling cancer, battling the horrible loss of a parent's death, battling the pain that the children who had to watch and experience this must feel. Had there been sunlight, we would have swung until we couldn't swing any longer. Tired muscles can recuperate. Wondering if there was something more that could have been done for someone so obviously in need - that lasts forever.
Others aren't so lucky to have the choice, and it is the least we can do, because we are doing it for them. Every time we played a hole, we made a little bit more money for the Jack and Jill Foundation for Late Stage Cancer, a group that help families cope when a parent is facing the end of their life. Obviously it is horrible for the person who is sick, but the Jack and Jill Foundation helps the whole family. They are all suffering mightily. Sore muscles? They'd trade with me in a second.
Play on. Then play on some more.
It was the order of the day, and it was one of the best days I have ever had in golf shoes. Scores didn't really matter, even though we tried our level best on each hole. One fellow shot a 64 on a tough TPC Wakefield course during one of his trips around it. Others players shot quite well in their own right. This marathon was not hit-and-giggle golf all day, but it was true that scores really didn't matter. Mileage mattered...and many, many miles were recorded by all of us.
Monday began for us long before dawn on the course. A couple cups of coffee were all that we used for our warm-up, as everyone knew that they would want to save their strokes for the course itself, where they mattered. It was going to be a long day, and all twenty of us who were playing knew that, and welcomed it. That's why we were there, after all. No need to waste effort anywhere, save it for where it made the most difference...on the golf course itself. Around 7am, with the sun still rising, we mounted our carts and headed for our starting tee boxes.
A full day on a golf course is an interesting thing to watch unfold. The sun rises, bathing the un-tracked dew in golden shadows. Like footprints in the snow, each player leaves a breadcrumb trail of their path. On the green, the golf ball does the same as it rolls towards a hole, leaving a visible lesson of the break. Birds sing, and the furry animals forage for breakfast. It's a wonderful time to play, the golfer's equivalent of being the first human to walk across fresh snow. Everything seems new, even the hope that comes with a blank scorecard.
We played on.
Later, the day comes to full life, even in the verdant quiet of a championship golf course. When you are in a golf marathon, you see more than you might ordinarily witness on a typical Sunday morning foursome. You get to watch the progress of people working on their yards, or workers building a new deck behind someone's house. You get to see hawks hunting prey. You might even see the progress of an owl building a nest, if you know where to look. The course workers' progress is easily seen, and you also get a good idea at how much work they actually do. We all too often take those folks for granted, but I can tell you after having seen it that it's a yeoman's job that they do.
And we still played on some more.
Morning gave way to afternoon, and then mid-afternoon headed inexorably towards the end of the day. Some people were surprised that here were, passing them by...again. You know that they had to wonder why they had seen us four or five times. One even asked us what we were up to. He said he'd seen me four other times on the tee box near his house. I told him about the marathon briefly. He smiled at me and said, "I bet you're tired."
I was, sort of, but tired in the way one gets after a day of doing a job well done. Fortunately, I had taken a packet of Ajinomoto's Focus Zone in mid-morning, something that is now a standard part of my regimen when I play serious golf. Ever since I tried this product back in September, I keep a packet in my bag. During the Marathon, Focus Zone was worth its weight in gold and then some. The stuff just works.
I laughed and told the fellow that I would be okay. And that I needed to go...and play on.
It's not often that an amateur golfer like myself can make a positive difference for someone with my sticks. Doing so was a pleasure, and one I would do again. In fact, I am already planning to. I enjoyed this day, make no mistake about it, but the most pleasing thing to me was not the golf, fantastic as that was, instead, it was helping families who really could use some help. I have been in their shoes, and I know how they must feel. I would do almost anything to help, even if it is just a wee little bit. I know I did exactly that on Monday. Those sore muscles surely felt good.
Maybe next time we can have the golf marathon in May, one where the days are longer and we can play more holes. That way, I can play at least 100 holes. Maybe even six full rounds, or 108 holes. Or seven. I think I have 126 holes in me. If you're game, I would love to have you join me in the next golf marathon. It's well worth your time and effort.
(note: I endorse Ajinomoto products solely based on my opinion of their merit. I am not compensated by Ajinomoto in any way for this opinion.)
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