Like most people with kids, I’m used to playing Putt-Putt — where the deceptively simple green is only made more infuriating by the presence of jolly hippos or out-of-place pirates. I’m NOT used to stepping on a putting green without fluorescent rails, or the sounds of children screaming.
But here I was, on Thistle Dhu, an iconic and historical feature of the Pinehurst Resort. The weather was perfect, and a global pandemic seemed far away — only the one-per-golf-cart rule and extra sanitation measures served as a reminder.
Plenty of people were taking advantage of the opportunity for social distancing in the fresh air. Still, there was an overwhelming sense of peace and quiet — broken only when my child asked very loudly if the number of strokes she should record after hole No. 2 was, in fact, 9.
I should’ve known what I was in for when a woman who, unlike me, was appropriately dressed for the course (I was wearing jeans, of course) told me to be prepared. “It’s hard, so don’t be surprised if the ball doesn’t go where you think.”
The first hole? Easy. The second? The hills get to you. Especially when you have a daughter who thinks she’s an expert after one session of The First Tee. She brought her own bag. I was armed with a putter rented from The Cradle’s starter house, right next door.
My game went something like this: I overshot the hole. Then overshot, again. Then I just sort of dragged the ball along until it went, reluctantly, into its home. I did not beat the putter on the green like Happy Gilmore, a level of restraint for which I should be congratulated. My kid, who won a sportsmanship award from The First Tee, told me I was doing a great job.
After hole no. 3, we seemed to hit a groove — that is, both of our balls landed in pretty much the same spot. We were equally bad, which all you ever want out of anyone you’re competing against. It was nice, for the first time in days, to be playing something other than a decades-old game of Battleship at our kitchen table.
By hole no. 7, we let a more skilled group play through. Then we took a moment to look around.
All of the new homeschool struggles, work-from-home deadlines, excess screen time and overall lack of normalcy was absorbed — for a few moments — by a sense of peace. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. And everything, except my golf game, was going to be OK.
If you’re keeping score, I finished with 75. Yes, I won — by 6 strokes. Will I be back? Of course. I have to give my kid another chance to win.
Want to play Thistle Dhu? See how here.