Another school year is behind us, and with it, the high school sports season is on hiatus for the next two-and-a-half months.
You would think after nine months of following the exploits of local prep athletes and traveling all over the state, I would be celebrating the opportunity to take a deep breath and relax until football season begins Aug. 19.
This past school year marked my 10th year of covering high school sports. Every summer, I am faced with the same dilemma — what do I do now?
Far too often, the answer has been watching entirely too much golf and reruns of “Deadliest Catch,” eating way too much unhealthy ballpark food and generally remaining sedentary until I’m back on the sidelines of a football game somewhere, clipboard in hand.
But this summer is going to be different.
This year, I’m going to see what it’s like to be active. You know, put myself in the shoes of the athletes I write about.
To an extent, anyway.
I’m not going to suit up and play 7-on-7 with the Tooele football team. Nor am I going to attempt to run alongside the Stansbury cross-country squad or go head-to-head against the Grantsville girls tennis team.
Instead, I’m going to dust off the golf clubs.
I recently recovered my ancient set of hand-me-down clubs from my parents’ garage in Moab, where they’ve sat for the better part of 15 years. Until the other day, I hadn’t picked up my trusty 7-iron since the summer after my junior year of high school.
That was a long time and many pounds ago. But I had never figured out exactly why I gave the game up all those years ago. Granted, I wasn’t ever going to become the next Tiger Woods. Nor do I expect to rival Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy in my return to the links. I was terrible the last time I played, and I’ll probably still be awful.
But as I took my clubs out of the back of the car and hit the driving range the other day, something just felt right, even as I barely made contact with the ball on my first swing.
It seemed like I should have been spending more time on the course all along. If you don’t take yourself too seriously — always a struggle for a competitive person like me — there is no place more relaxing and peaceful than a golf course.
I was able to appreciate that more now that I’m in my early 30s than I did as a teenager. And, guess what? After laughing off the huge divot that I took with my first swing, I actually started hitting the ball well.
There are few things as satisfying as watching a golf ball sail straight down the middle, right where you wanted to hit it. I can only compare it to the swishing sound of a perfect basketball shot or that certain sound that a baseball or softball bat makes on a home run swing.
I’m under no illusion that I’m suddenly going to start playing like a PGA Tour pro. I’d settle for breaking 100 — and that’s just on the front nine.
So, I’ll be out there on a course near you in the not-too-distant future. And now you know who will be slowing down the pace of play as he searches for lost ball after lost ball.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. The only hole he’s never bogeyed is the 19th — because you can’t possibly go wrong with a double cheeseburger. Email him with snack-bar suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.