This is the time of year where we all develop a need to fly south. Wintering in Williston Park means snow on the sidewalks and darkness by 5 p.m. Ugh!
Lucky for me I found an excuse to fly out of here.
PGA Expo was coming to the Orlando Convention Center and I decided to go. I’ve attended the show in the past and emboldened by fantasies of landing a big clothing, golf club or writing contract I rushed to purchase my Jet Blue ticket and made my reservations at the Hyatt Regency.
I think traveling may be like pregnancy.
The idea sounds great in theory but the experience tends to be a nightmare.
First there is the getting up at 3:30 a.m. to catch my 6 a.m. flight out of LaGuardia. Then there’s the anguish of carrying luggage and books and your ticket with the hope that you don’t drop it all.
Then the shock of buying chewing gum in the airport and hearing the girl tell you “That will be $4.95.”
Then there is the fun of waiting on line, taking off your shoes and your jacket and your belt and trying to get it all into a little box.
Then you go through the check in and are told you must empty all things from your pockets because all the alarms are going off. Then you get a pat down which is about the time I think about how lucky Captain Kirk was because all he had to do was say “Beam me up Scotty.”
And the flight has not even started yet.
On the flight you will also witness screaming 3-year olds and coughing adults who always seem to sit right behind me. I don’t know why this is, maybe some sort of bad karma from a past life.
Let’s say you do make it to Orlando. You still must work through your disorientation and haze and interact with the rental car clerk who mumbles many things in rapid succession about extra insurance, gas refills and GPS machines.
You pray to God you are not being ripped off too badly, sign the computer screen and stumble your way to the parking lot where you must find the car of your choice.
Now you must get into this car and attempt to figure out how the lights work, how the emergency brake works, how the key works and how the stick shift works.
I was not trained in how to do these things in graduate school.
You try to remember what the parking attendant says about how to get to the hotel. “Just take the north exit out and find 528 West. Merge left right away and then keep right at the toll because you do not have EZPass do you? “He said many more things but I do not recall them. Now you are flying down Route 528 in a state of heightened anxiety knowing full well you will miss the exit and get lost.
It begins to rain but it is no easy matter to get the wipers turned on.
So the question that must be asked is this. Is a trip to a faraway place worth all this turmoil, money and anxiety?
I will tell you about just one experience as an answer.
I visited my old friend, the well-known and well-loved golf instructor Won Park who brings some of his best young players all the way from Korea in the months of January and February to practice at the Grand Cypress Golf Club.
When I arrived I saw all these young girls lined up along the range hitting perfect shot after perfect shot.
It was as if they had solved the riddle of physics, gravity and geometry all at once. In the first stall was In Gee Chun, winner of the 2015 U.S. Open.
Next to her were Eun Hee Ji winner of the 2009 U.S. Open.
Then came Babe Lui, the next LPGA super star, then 20 year old Hui Mang Kim and finally the 13-year-old bespectacled Rachel Yeon.
All with swings that displayed grace and ease and fluidity.
And when I got to chat with them their remarks were equally stunning.
As a sport psychologist we worry about how our athletes cope with anxiety and despair.
Yet all these young talents talked about embracing pressure with an air of nonchalance.
On the way back to my hotel I thought about one of the great essays by one of our greatest writers, E B White. The essay was called “The Ring of Time” and he wrote about a shabby gloomy circus act he once visited in Florida.
First he watched a middle-aged woman lead a circus horse around a ring.
But then the woman’s daughter entered, jumped on the horses back and did a few casual stunts as the horse moved in a circle round and round the ring.
The essay is a masterpiece because White made an effort to witness and to write about the ease and confidence of youth in command of movement.
He described it as the ring of ambition and happiness.
What I witnessed on that golf range that morning was exactly the same thing.
I was witness to the exuberance, the splendor, the talent and finally the beauty of youth.
And if you were to ask me if just that one hour was worth the trip to Florida I would have to say yes it was.
I managed to visit the magic kingdom right there on the golf range. Bravo to Won Park and all that young talent in his care.