Fore a par and birdie, with a slice of mini

By Holly Vanorse | Apr 18, 2011

It's kind of odd that I was asked if I happened to have a column in me this week, one that was sports related, when I was daydreaming about wailing on golf balls at a driving range. Even though it was thundering and pouring out, I still had an itch to see just how far I could drive a ball.

My upcoming wedding, the rising prices of everything, not enough hours in any given day and a garden full of a million iris bulbs that for some reason can't seem to "un-plant" themselves has put a lot of unnecessary stress on even the simplest of things. So, standing in the downpour, smacking balls around just seemed extremely appealing in the early morning hours of a dreary Monday.

Does that mean I want to play golf? No. Does that mean I even know how to play golf? Absolutely not. My putting game is quite despicable, actually.

Yet, I rule the course on the miniature golf circuit.

I've been mini golfing since I was a toddler, my family taking small summer road trips here and there just to get out of town and have a little fun. As I got older, we made an almost annual trip to Pirates Cove in Bar Harbor. It never failed that I would always take one hole and make the attempt to hit the ball into the waterfall, a little river or the pond that sits at both the end and the beginning of the course.

Needless to say, my father was never impressed.

At least I didn't do the infamous, drag-the-ball-via-the-putter-to-the-hole that my younger sister was so well known for in her young age.

My father took the time to, as patiently as any man with three daughters could, show us all the ins-and-outs of proper putting. Lining the ball up here, angling it a little over there, so that when we did hit the ball, it would smoothly glide either all the way to the hole or pretty dang close.

He forgot to mention that artificial turf was quite a bit different than the grass found at the real golf courses.

Up until I was about 19 years old, golf courses had only held memories of sledding. My parents live near Goose River Golf Course and when we were little, we'd gear up with our sleds and venture off to sled the greens.

My love for smacking a golf ball all started with the driving range. A group of friends and I took a few hours out of a hot summer day after swimming in a quarry in St. George to stop at the driving range on Route 131. A friend handed me a club and told me to swing my heart out.

After using that club to create a good 10-foot sized crater by my feet, I finally drove the ball far into the field. Everyone stopped, turned and stared at me in disbelief. Then they started questioning whether I was telling the truth, had I really never done more than mini golf?

Holding up the club in my hand, I made the comment that left me standing true to my blonde hair color.

"Is this like a nine iron?" I asked seriously.

Once the laughter stopped, I was informed that no, it was not a nine iron, it was a driver.

I was given a handful of golf balls and told to do it again. Second time around, my crater was only added to by about a foot before I successfully hit the ball. This one landed about 50 yards short of one of the longer marker signs far from the tee area.

"Again," I was told. Second swing success put me hundreds of yards out again. Looking back at that day, I realized that was pretty good considering I was just swinging at the ball. No one had thought to teach me how to properly hold the club, how to stand or how to even swing a driving shot.

My next foray into golf came a few years ago, and with a bit more experience with hitting a golf ball.

I still didn't have a clue which club was what or what any other term except 'fore' meant. Then again, who doesn't know what 'fore' means?

A few co-workers and some friends all set off to the Rockland Golf Course. Right away we decided that since more than half of the group had either zero or little golfing skill under their glove, a nine-hole course would be best.

It was a long — very long — nine holes.

Once again I had the drive down. I was getting very close to some of the putting greens, but it was taking six or more tries to get the ball into the hole. The ball would either make a complete loop and head off in the opposite direction I was hitting it, or it would skirt the edge of the hole and keep going.

When we'd reached the fourth hole, I was almost dead last. I was one stroke up from one of my good friends who was experiencing golfing for the first time.

On the sixth hole, I started to channel Adam Sandler's character in "Happy Gilmore." I lay flat on my stomach and shot the ball like a pool ball into the hole.

By the time we were piling into our carts and heading back to the club house, we all agreed we needed much more practice if we were going to ever play golf again. A six-hour, nine-hole round of play should have been the biggest sign we basically were hideous golfers.

I haven't been golfing since that day. It's been about two years since I've even been to a driving range. I managed to kick my fiance, Justin's, butt at a game of mini golf a year ago with a couple of smooth hole-in-ones, but that's about it for accomplishments.

For now, I think I'll stick to just taking photos of golfing events for the VillageSoup newspapers and websites.

VillagesSoup Sports Assistant Holly Vanorse can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at hvanorse@villagesoup.com.

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