Swing and a miss launch love affair

It was a bright June day. Prior to that moment, I had never wielded a golf club in my 31 years of life. It was my turn to tee off, and I stepped up to the golf ball, took my first swing - and missed the ball.

Everyone gave me an encouraging nod to try again. I swung again and missed a second time. I could feel the tension growing, and so I hastily swung a third time. I missed yet again. I quickly swung again, and I finally hit the golf ball, which traveled about 10 feet along the ground.

"Alright," I said, clapping my hands. "Let's go!" The rest of the round was downhill from there. I had a blast (and very high golf score), and my foursome companions were very gracious.

A few weeks later, I attended a hospital golf outing. My golf score was also quite high. The hospital CEO looked at it and said nothing.

"Oh no, you don't understand," I told him. "I was going for the 'Most Honest Golfer' award!" He had a hearty laugh. Perhaps out of pity, that night I was awarded The Most Honest Golfer award and given $50 cash. Ever since those first few challenging rounds of golf, I was hooked on the game forever.

You name it, I've done it on a golf course.

Hit a golf ball under a bridge over water? I've done it. Hit a golf ball on a tree and have it land in front of the green? I've done that, too. Hit eight golf balls into the water from the drop zone only to shank the ninth shot around the water? Yup, that was me. Yet, despite all of that tragedy, I keep coming back for more.

I just love being out on the golf course. I so enjoy the nature (I am frequently shooting my second shot from underneath a tree) and fresh air, and golfing lets me escape the stresses and strains of our world. As an ICU physician having cared for hundreds of COVID-19 patients, golfing is one of those thing I do for self-care, and I absolutely love it, my poor skills notwithstanding.

Now, my 9-year-old son has taken an interest in golfing, and it is so amazing. Of course, I've done it right by him, and he takes lessons with a local golf professional. He and I frequently go golfing together, and we have such a great time. He is already leagues better than I am, and it is a beautiful thing to see. One day, I hope to see him win multiple golf awards, and these awards will have nothing to do with honesty in scoring.

- Hesham Hassaballa of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].