On the first day of summer, I went to the driving range with my husband and one of our sons. I started off with my driver and did poorly, but, when I switched to my No. 3 iron, I hit some lovely shots. Even my husband was impressed. I enjoyed watching my son try his hand at golf. It was quality time with family under a glorious sunny sky, rather than staring at our smartphones and ignoring each other.
I consider myself to be the world’s worst golfer. Unlike 11-year-old Lucy Li, who recently made history as the youngest female in the U.S. Open, I can barely make contact with the ball. And, when I do, you’d better duck and cover. Years ago at the driving range, my ball bounced off the canopy and travelled about 50 metres horizontally, bypassing several people and hitting my sister-in-law in the head. Though unintentional, it was quite a remarkable shot.
In my early-30s, when I started working in a large high-tech company, I thought taking up golf would provide a good opportunity for networking. I took a couple of lessons and played a few rounds. Then I participated in several corporate golf tournaments. After my team performed miserably in the first tournament, I realized such incompetency deserves recognition. I suggested that, in addition to awards for longest drive, ball closest to the pin and best team score, there should be an award for the worst team score. The organizing committee adopted my suggestion. In subsequent tournaments, my team won what was called “Most Honest Team.” And I was so proud!
It can be frustrating to watch others hit amazing shots while I’m scaring Canada geese with my divots or inhaling sand as I desperately try to chip my ball out of a bunker. On the rare occasion when I manage to hit the sweet spot, it’s like hitting the jackpot. That euphoric feeling doesn’t happen often, but, when it does, it reminds me I mustn’t give up golf just because I don’t excel at it. In fact, being mediocre (or worse) at something shouldn’t deter any of us from participating, as long as we’re enjoying ourselves.
Sometimes, a change in our schedule or our environment acts as an incentive for us to use sports equipment that’s been gathering dust. By late June, the cost of a litre of regular unleaded gas in Ottawa was $1.39. My vehicle uses a midgrade gas, which was as high as $1.49! The school year was over and my sons were off to camp, so I was emancipated from the role of chauffeur. I decided to start using my bicycle for transportation, at least a few times per week, to save on gas and increase my cardiorespiratory fitness.
One day, I hopped on my bike and rode to the Soloway JCC. It’s a leisurely 6 km from my house, but the overpass on Woodroffe gave my legs a good workout. The downside was that I arrived sweaty and with helmet hair, not too attractive. But I felt more invigorated than when I travel by car.
Cycling as a mode of transportation requires a bit of planning. First, you must ensure that your bicycle is properly tuned-up so it’s safe and in good working order. Even for short distances, I travel with a water bottle. It may not seem that hot when you start out, but, within a few minutes, you’ll be sweating and you must stay hydrated. A basket or pannier is more comfortable than a backpack for transporting a change of clothes.
If you ride your bike just a few times per week, you’ll notice within a few weeks how much stronger you feel. You’ll also save money and perhaps lose some weight. The only thing I haven’t yet figured out is how to carry my golf bag!
Safety tip reminder: Bicycle helmets are a must for all ages, even if they’re not legally required for adults. Inline-skaters and skateboarders should wear helmets, too. One fall is all it takes for a tragedy to occur. Helmets save lives. Be a positive role model and have conversations with your children about safety, helmet-wearing rules and consequences.
Gloria Schwartz is a personal trainer at the Soloway JCC and author of Personal Best: Train Your Brain and Transform Your Body for Life.