I had six weeks to learn how to play golf well enough to not embarrass myself in front of family and friends. I know it's sounds stupid because it's golf but I think we all forget how uncomfortable and awkward those first few rounds on a golf course feel, especially if we're not prepared.
I did a search on the internet for golf forums and found The Sand Trap. I stalked it for a few days and then decided to register. At the time, the site was pretty heavy into Stack and Tilt but overall even as a newbie I could tell the core membership had a great wealth of knowledge about golf and it was much better moderated than many of the other sites I checked out. Most of the advice I saw for new golfers was to take lessons, so I started a search for a local golf instructor.
My business partner and family were supportive of me taking lessons but urged me to get rid of the Knight clubs as none of them wanted to play a round of golf with me if they were in my bag. My cousins dad was a lefty and he lent me a set of Callaway X-12's and Warbird 3 and 5 woods to use until I was sure I wanted to stick with golf this time. My business partner gave me a Nike Sumo driver for my birthday so I was pretty well set equipment wise, I just needed to find someone to give me lessons. I called up an instructor close to my house and set up a lesson.
The instructor, Bill was really laid back and I gave him some background on my golf experience and the date of the charity event I was going to play in. He told me to hit some balls so he could gauge where to start the lessons. After I warmed up and hit about five hacks he said we needed to start from scratch (the grip) and work on my swing from there. Bill had made enough adjustments to my horrible swing that I could actually hit a ball somewhat decently. He had walked away and I was just hitting balls into the range when it hit me that this was pretty fun. The longer and higher I hit the ball, the longer and higher I wanted to hit the next one. I was bitten by the golf bug and at that point I knew I wanted to become a good golfer.
Bill came back and suggested a five lesson package that would take me right up to the week of the charity event. In addition to the lessons he wanted me to practice 2- 3 times per week. The five lessons were going to cost me $400 for 5 hours of lessons and free range balls. I signed up and went home to tell me wife as that was a pretty substantial amount of money to spend. I wouldn't say she flipped out but she wasn't real happy either.
I think what bothered her most is that I had given up golf the entire time we lived on a golf course in Virginia and all my friends there were golfers and now that we were back in NY, I was taking up golf. I told her it was because of the charity event and that it was for a good cause. After some eye rolling and sarcastic banter I got the words of encouragement I was looking for, "Do what you want". It wasn't a no, and I wanted to learn how to play, so that makes it a yes.
I spent the next five weeks working with Bill and spending time at the range. I was hooked on golf bad, between lessons, practice, reading golf books, watching golf on television and spending time here on the Sand Trap I barely had time to sleep. My golf swing was improving but it was still really inconsistent. My last lesson was on chipping and putting and I might as well have not taken that one because you can't learn how to chip, pitch, read putts and putt in an hour.
I realize I put Bill in a tough spot having to teach me how to play golf in five weeks but overall I learned that most of what he taught me was how to patch up my horrible golf swing. He didn't teach me how to make a good golf swing, he showed me how to take my swing and make it good enough to get through the golf outing. I hit a lot of slices so to fix that he had me use a very strong grip. He used the analogy of comparing a strong grip to salt, so he'd tell me whenever I sliced the ball, just add some more salt to my grip. Looking back maybe my expectations weren't realistic but while I made some progress those five weeks I also engrained a lot of bad habits and a pretty horrible golf swing.
I had five hours of lessons, probably 30 hours of range time and tomorrow was the golf outing. I had everything laid out and I was ready to go.