Between my first few shots, I was thinking about war, depressed financial markets, canceled sporting events and people who might have wanted to play golf on a fine, hot Florida morning, but who could no longer do anything.
After a hole or two, I was thinking about keeping a constant spine angle, starting with my hips, and staying with the shot.
Shortly after that, I wasnt thinking.
And therein lay the beauty and the redemption. Half a round of golf enabled me to get away for a while, to reset lifes meter. The air smelled warm and sweet. The birdsong lilted and the breeze caressed. It cooled one of 200 million fevered heads.
It was not a decision I took lightly, the decision to play golf Thursday morning. I had appeared on Viewer's Forum the night before with noted golf writer Tim Rosaforte, who said that in the days after terrorists invaded our lives, it felt strange even to hit a few balls.
But time was passing, and shock was giving way to anger. I felt the need for some normalcy, some athletic comfort food. Not that there wasnt an odd sense of survivor guilt. Some people who probably would have loved a round of golf perished in the attacks.
But I was still alive, and I wanted nothing more than nine holes before work. So off I went.
It helped immensely. Good shots and bad, it felt marvelous.
I hope many other people do the same thing in the weeks to come. We need it. A few hours on the golf course doesnt make us less patriotic. In a way, it enables us to say, Ill be damned if some terrorist is going to mess with my short game.
As professional sports resume, so should recreational sports. Yes, its natural to feel as if play is inappropriate. But the road ahead will be hard. We have a new national life to adjust to. There are jobs to do, many of them difficult, some of them odious. We need whatever soul-stirring release sports may offer as we go about the business of reinventing the world.
It may be that the golf business will suffer in the next few years. People may delay new equipment purchases until the economic picture looks prettier. Travel plans will be subjected to second and third thoughts, and in many cases, shelved.
But lets not stop playing. Golf ' or tennis, or soccer, or basketball, or fly fishing, or (insert sport name here) ' will be our chance to recharge the batteries, to re-energize for the tasks at hand.
All I know is, since this morning, I feel better. Not great, not as if Sept. 11 never happened. But if a little relief comes from hammering a great drive (I did), standing over a testy 4-iron shot and laughing like a hyena upon yanking it left of left (ditto) or making a downhill ten-footer for par (yep) ' well, Im all for it.