The joys of being "paired up" or How I Learned to Love Golf with Strangers
This may sound odd to some people, I know: I like to golf alone. There is nothing as peaceful as being the first golfer on the course, leaving the first solitary footprints in the dew on the greens, the only sounds being your shots and the birds and, quite likely, the grounds crew.
There was a time when I practically wouldn’t golf if I couldn’t go out as a single. My biggest fear was getting paired up with, gulp!, strangers.
Of course, part of the aversion to golfing with new people was the fact that I was really, really bad. I could hit the ball a long way, but it was invariably the wrong way. And I was ashamed.
Although my game has improved, my initial reaction to the words, “You’ll be paired up with…” wasn’t completely overcome until just last month, during a golf-writing junket to Southern California. It was there where I was paired up with the most fascinating collection of golfers I could imagine.
First, at Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita, I went out with James Hull and his charming wife Ellie. James is a business consultant who is also an accomplished water color painter
and sells his paintings online, including paintings of golf courses.
“The golf course paintings sell really well,” said James as we were teeing off on the 15th hole of Robinson Ranch, the only one on the course that he had painted (so far).
Next stop was Temecula Creek Inn in Temecula. There I was paired with Randy Goodrich from Portland, Oregon, who had golfed all over the world, and Steve Flores, a pitching scout for the Texas Rangers who was the club champ at Temecula in 2004 and 2005.
Oh man, is it something to see a big guy who’s also a natural athlete and an excellent golfer hit the ball. I mean I drilled my drive several times, and except for once or twice, Steve was past me. And according to him, there were some major and minor league players that could have left us both in the dust.
Finally, on to Barona Creek Golf Club in Lakeside, where I met Chuck and Karen Hoffman and Matt Anderson. Karen operates a poker dealer school, and Chuck, appropriately enough, is a poker dealer at the Barona Casino. I learned from them that the biggest mistake most poker players make is playing too many hands.
Matt is one of the handlers for the famed Budweiser Clydesdales. He taught me all sorts of things about the signature steeds, for example, that there are eight teams of them across the country, including in San Diego, where he’s based.
After meeting this esteemed and engaging collection of fellow golfers, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to my next time as a single. I actually hope to be paired up.
James Hull’s “Mountain 15 – Robinson Ranch”
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They understand that I'm a pretty good golfer and even try to help me find people of my own skill level so that I can be competitive without having to help the newbies all the time (to find their golf balls, etc, although I don't mind doing that on occasion).
only a-----e she's ever been paired with
on a golf course is me.