On May 10, 2023

Driving Into the darkness

I got out of work the other night and had nothing to do, so I decided to walk nine holes. Luckily, it was the perfect scenario: spring was in full bloom, the temperature was stable, and the course appeared empty. 

I walked up to the first tee and did a few stretches and then proceeded to hammer a drive up the middle of the fairway. I then tossed my bag onto my shoulder, selected a playlist on my Spotify account, and wandered off into the horizon, happily alone.

I love golfing alone. I find it a meditative, relaxing  experience. But, interestingly, I don’t see a lot of other people doing it. I also go to the theater alone quite often and I don’t see a lot of people doing that either. 

In both cases, people have questioned my motives for preferring independence inside of two rather social activities. They insinuate that, perhaps, the act of playing golf or going to the movies alone constitutes desperation, possibly even depression.

I’ve certainly never looked at it that way. 

Honestly, I don’t mind if people join me at the theater or on the golf course. I find the social aspects of both experiences to be pleasant. However, I do prefer the solitary nature of being alone when I’m trying to focus. 

At the theater, it’s easy to get distracted when you’re with other people. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s being ripped out of the dream-like trance when you’re fully immersed in a good film. (Of course, the opposite is true when you’re at a horrible film. In those cases, I welcome a distraction.)

On the golf course, I prefer to lose myself in nature, my music, and my round. I’ve played enough golf to know that my timing and rhythm are much improved when I have the advantage of full concentration. When I’m with other players, I get caught up in conversations or the competitiveness and before I know it, my game is unraveling. 

Regardless of the reasons, my recent solo, after-work round was pure bliss. I played a solid nine holes and never had another golfer impeded my progress. While driving home, I replayed each golf swing, imagining the trajectories of the better shots and thinking of ways I could have improved the mediocre shots. 

I vowed that I would revisit the golf course as soon as possible since everything seemed to gel. 

As it happened, my revisit would occur two days later on Saturday afternoon. The same scenario looked to be in place for this next round, but since it was the weekend, I figured I’d show up early and visit the range to really tighten up my swing. 

I arrived one hour before my tee time and made a beeline for the range where I proceed to pound balls for a good half hour. Unfortunately, about halfway through my bucket, I mishit a shot. It caught me by surprise since I had been hitting everything flush up until that swing. My next shot was just as bad and so was the shot after that. 

That’s when I started to panic.

I’ve played golf long enough to know that one bad shot can simply mean one bad shot. But it can also mean the beginning of a terrible trend. In this case, it was the latter. 

From that one horrible swing, everything changed. I tried to correct, but for every correction I attempted, something else went awry. I begrudgingly walked up to the first tee and and blasted a so-so drive up the left edge of the fairway. From there, it was a mediocre mix of acceptable shots and something in the realm of mildly-athletic chaos. 

I left the course in the worst mood I’ve experienced in months. Part of me wanted to go back early the next morning to rectify what went wrong, while the other part of me wanted saw my clubs in half as soon as I arrived home.

I did neither. Instead, I sat in my chair in a sour mood for the rest of the night watching PGA professional golfers make it look easy (which just infuriated me more).

This week’s film, “A Man Called Otto” starring Tom Hanks, features another gentleman in a bad mood. Unfortunately, this character’s bad mood has him contemplating some life-altering decisions.

You can always expect a top-tier performance from Tom Hanks and this film is no exception. Hanks portrays a man who has lost all hope, but luckily, the world around him won’t let him abandon his self-worth. It’s the age-old story of Scrooge finally seeing the light. 

Check this one out if you are looking for a solid drama with some dark humor. It’s not Hanks’ best, but it’s still better than most.

A stern “B” for “A Man Called Otto,” now available to stream on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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