Getting Ready for Golf Again

By: Bob Spiwak

This being the day before February, it is time to write about golf. As it is estimated that 10 percent of Americans chase the little ball, this may not be of much interest to the three of you who have nothing better to do than read this. If, however, 33 percent of you are interested, pay heed.

To begin, as the melt continued I decided to shovel off a putting green still maintained here at Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf and Flubbers Club (in Winthrop, Wash.). I did so yesterday, in mostly sunshine and worked up a goodly sweat. This morning I decided to finish the job. This turned out in the same manner as washing the car in order to bring on the rain. In this instance it is snow, coming down like silver dollars.

I quit golf about four years ago. After a run of 50 years at it, while golfing at Bridgeport with Mary Rea, it struck me that it sure was a waste of time. I needed a break. Figuring I could hack my way around a golf course at any age, I thought of my canoes lying idle as I burned daylight on the course. Quit right there.

Having written and photographed for golf magazines for a dozen or more years along with having been rabid about golf, it was hard to lose interest completely. Every January as the Tour began the season at courses I had played in Hawaii, then Palm Springs, I would begin to twitch. Last year, three years after the layoff, I determined to begin again. Open-heart surgery and other cutting-edge activities put the kibosh on that idea. This year is another matter. I have been invading Ebay gathering up goodies to completely remake my game and, despite my age and lugubrious nature, becoming a real threat on the course.

Conditioning is important to play golf. For example, I take my putter into the bathtub and practice putting the ball on fast greens. I was very good about having the ball end on the drain hole, even with my wife shouting at me to take off my spikes. Right on my back swing she did that, can you imagine?

To aid in putting as well as full swings, I came up with a routine to build up my hand and wrist muscles. This consists of holding the channel changer in a proper grip and pushing the channel change button several times at commercial times during the golf tournaments. For my back muscles, I make it a point to lie down on the couch and then get up, flex knees and then stand erect as I walk to the fridge and grab a beer. Practicing for playing in bright sunlight, I have developed a routine whereby I close my eyes while watching the match, and keeping them closed for half an hour or so each of the four days. My wife, Ms. Gloria, is a non-golfer and insists I am sleeping. But she just does not get it. This is a practice session.

Exercising the legs is of paramount importance, especially when driving a motorized cart. One has to have stamina to push on that accelerator, especially the brake pedal. For these vital muscles and ligaments I try to conscientiously cross my legs every five minutes as I lie there watching the television.

Having followed this regimen for a month (17 days on the couch) it was imperative to get all this conditioning coordinated. Thus it was that I was motivated to shovel the green yesterday and this morning. Pausing every now and then and properly gripping the shovel, I took full swings and could envision the ball sailing on a frozen rope down the fairway.

Watching the snow fall in a disillusioning whiteout right now, it is obvious that actual putting on the green will have to wait. But for a true athlete, as many know me to be, there can be neither rest nor wavering from an exercise routine. I believe it is time to pick up a golf magazine and turn the pages. Makes for excellent hand-eye coordination, you know.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, heís back to being a fanatical golfer. Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world, although few have been published (not true). Bobís most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.