Not Our Type of Club: Learning to Golf in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Woodrow Wilson once said, “Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose.” He wasn’t kidding. Add a couple of golf virgins that are less than coordinated into the mix, and the golf course becomes a substitute for the set of Comedy Central.
It’s not really fair to say that Vanessa is uncoordinated—she can belly dance with the best of them. But belly dancing doesn’t require connecting a club to a ball. With me, uncoordinated is putting it mildly. I once bowled a six—in a full 10 frames. ‘Nuf said.
However, neither Vanessa nor I have ever turned down the chance to showcase our lack of skills, so when our host and friend, Jo, suggested we take a golf lesson while visiting Old Kinderhook Resort at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri, we were all in.
My biggest concern was for the golf pro who would be assigned the impossible task of teaching us how to connect a golf club with that tiny little ball to send it somewhere near the green. It is called the green, right?
Prior to this fateful morning, my experience with golfing had been a series of badly botched miniature golf games. Oh, and I had driven a golf cart. Beyond that, nothing…zip…zero. Vanessa, impressively, had even less experience. But Jo, well, she was experienced—a REAL golfer. She has fancy golf clubs and even plays in tournaments. She was our inspiration, and we were counting on her guidance.
We arrived at the golf shop anxious to meet our personal golf pro, a British chap named Rob. He was very happy to meet us—for about 15 minutes. About as long as it took us to leave the shop and hit the greens. (Seriously—are they called greens? Still wondering.)
He started working with Vanessa. It didn’t go well.
Rob: Stop using a softball swing. You’re playing golf.
Vanessa: My swing isn’t the problem. The ball’s too small.
Rob: The ball is just fine.
Vanessa: No one can hit something that small.
Rob: You want me to bring out a beach ball?
When Vanessa did finally hit the ball, she nailed it…right into the lawn equipment.
Vanessa: That stuff is in my way
Rob: God help the other golfers.
Meanwhile, I kept practicing and losing balls. Like, all of them.
Terri: I don’t have any balls.
Rob: I think that’s probably a good thing?
Vanessa: I still have some. They just won’t come out of the bag.
Terri: That’s because they’re hiding in shame.
Luckily for us, that was about the time the booze cart came around. Bloody Mary time! We dropped our clubs and headed straight for the cart, assuring Rob that alcohol would improve our game. It didn’t.
Having given up on us ever making progress on the practice range, Rob suggested that we drive our carts over to the golf course and play at least one hole.
Terri: We get to play on the real golf course?
Rob: I wouldn’t call it playing.
We jumped into the cart and Vanessa even let me drive. She did scream when I pulled out directly in front of a car, but that was just her being a drama queen. I thought golf carts had the right of way. They should.
We pulled up to perfectly manicured greens, and admired the small streams that wound through the course, not realizing that they were just waiting to drown unsuspecting golf balls. And there were sand traps where our balls could burrow so as not to be embarrassed any further.
On the course, Rob asked us to choose a colored golf ball. I chose pink—you know, for princess. Vanessa chose a bright red ball so that she could see where it went. It didn’t help.
GPS wouldn’t have helped.
When Vanessa raised her club for her power swing, she actually connected with the ball. It went right off the course and into someone’s yard. The second one went…somewhere. Another one went into a puddle. And sank in defeat.
Vanessa: I don’t think golf is my game. I’m going to go back to the cart and work on my mimosa.
Terri: Stick with your strengths.
Despite her fancy golf clubs, Jo couldn’t hit anything. She kept saying the course was too wet and the grass was too high. She said a lot of other things too—things that convinced us she had developed a sudden case of Tourette’s.
Rob gave up on us hitting from the green. He decided we should try putting—you know, into an actual hole. He went first to show us how it’s done…and missed the hole.
Terri (laughing): What kind of professional golfer are you?
Rob (adamantly): I am a golf pro, not a professional golfer. There’s a big difference.
Terri: You want me to show you how it’s done?
Terri: Easy, mate.
At this point, Rob gave up and started doing tricks with the ball and putter. While he didn’t exactly run off the course when our lesson was over, he did seem awfully cheerful when we arrived back at the hotel. We saw him again the next morning when we walked by the pro shop.
Vanessa and Terri: Good morning, Rob!
Rob: Oh, god.
Terri: You can tell he misses us.
Vanessa: Almost as much as we missed those balls.
If You Go
Old Kinderhook Resort is a wonderful place to learn to play golf (don’t tell Rob we sent you)—even better if you can actually hit the ball.
The Tom Weiskopf signature golf course is the centerpiece of the more than 700-acre Old Kinderhook master-planned community. Nestled in the Ozark Hills, it includes valleys, waterfalls, hills, trees, water hazards and elevation changes, and provides breathtaking views, should you choose to focus on that instead of the impossibility of hitting a teeny, tiny ball. (No, I’m not bitter.)
Seasoned golfers will appreciate the challenge of the course, and those new to the sport will be grateful for what have got to be the sport’s most patient instructors.
The Lodge at Old Kinderhook overlooks the course, and makes an ideal base for exploring the Lake of the Ozarks region, where you can take advantage of a wealth of other outdoor activities including boating, fishing, hiking and caving. And after a full day, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a fantastic meal in the resort’s restaurant, The Trophy Room, which overlooks the course. While everything that Executive Chef Thomas Robinett makes is wonderful, make sure you try the Old Kinderhook salad with parmesan tulle and their own house-made dressing; there’s a reason that it’s one of their signature menu items.
For more information on the Old Kinderhook Resort visit www.oldkinderhook.com.
For more information on things to do while visiting the Lake of the Ozarks visit www.funlake.com.