The perils of morning exercise.

Planting her feet firmly in a solid stance Mrs. Willoughby took the golf club in her hand, weighed it for heft and balance and took a practice swing. She found the flex and path of her drive to her satisfaction and then placed a ball on the tee she’d pressed into the sandy soil.

She stretched her arms wide and twisted first to the left, and then the right to loosen her muscles, tight from the sleep she’d so recently risen from. The early morning light glinted from the surface of English bay, and the sound of wind moving through the trees helped her relax in preparation for her morning exercise.

She squinted into the early morning light, and satisfied that she could easy reach the target she’d set her mind on addressed the ball. As you likely know, a correctly struck golf ball doesn’t merely arch its way from tee to green. The spin derived from being struck by any large and fast moving object such as a club, set up a rotation which the dimples of the ball’s surface respond to in a manner that gives the trajectory of the ball extra reach and glide. The aerodynamics of the process are at once graceful, fascinating and uniquely satisfying to the golfer.

When struck cleanly a golf ball leaves the tee at a velocity of around 180 kph or 110 mph. As her ball sailed off into the distance with a pleasant thrumbing sound she felt a sense of exhilaration. To come out in the early morning and send her ball on it’s way was both her secret pleasure and delight.

Meanwhile some eighty yards distant her husband was in a world of his own, paddling his high end kayak along the shoreline of English Bay, nearby Spanish Banks. Lost in an almost reverential meditation as he paddled across the surface of the water he drifted in the comfort of his own thoughts. It was his pleasure to leave the confines of the house early in the morning and launch his kayak for an hour of paddling exercise and to allow his mind to find a place of peace. On this still BC morning, with hardly a ripple on the surface on the bay it might be reasonable to say that there were few worries going through Mr. Willoughby’s mind. That, however was soon to change in the most literal way.

As he placed his new carbon fibre paddle in the water and drew it back, the hull sliding silently forward a light wind seemed to breath itself against his cheek, and a streak of white passed within inches of his head. Dumbstruck Mr. Willoughby watched as a golf ball flew by, skipped once on the mirror like surface of the water, and then plopped ignominiously beneath the waves.

It might be reasonable to say that most kayakers, when faced with such an experience might turn and start shouting at the person driving golf balls in their direction. Not so Mr. Willoughby. He immediately put his head down to present as limited a target as possible, and then began paddling for all he was worth to put some distance between himself and the shore. With powerful strokes he moved swiftly forward, only to find he’d paddled directly into the path of a second well placed drive. This one bounce off the bow of the kayak, sending a whack reverberating though the tiny hull.

Shouting at the top of his voice, Mr. Willoughby turned and swore viciously at the source of the projectiles.

“You bastard! I’m going find you, you bloody idiot. You’re going to kill someone!”

In reply another ball soared out of the distance closing fast on the hapless form of Mr. Willoughby, who ducked as the ball narrowly missed his head.

“I’m calling the police,” he shouted at the wooded coastline. In reply another ball flew from the dark interior of the wooded shore. If only he could see who this swine was.

Mr. Willoughby paddled as fast as his 59 year old arms would propel him, knowing that beneath this barrage of golf balls he would never be able to manage a call to the police. Instead he drove the kayak into the waves attempting to put as much distance as possible between himself and the shore. Two hundred and fifty yards should do it, he thought as he paddled frantically.

Who could possibly be so monumentally stupid, he wondered. And this was the third time this month. Usually this only happened once a month, or twice at most. Strangely, none of the other paddlers he’d talked to had been exposed to such shoreline abuse. Worse still, his antagonist seemed to be improving in their aim.

By the time Mr. Willoughby returned home his wife would be arising from her bed, and putting on the coffee. He would tell her of his unusual experience, and she would say — as she always did — that he was probably imagining it. No one would waste expensive golf balls on such a cavalier exercise.

Unknown to Mr. Willoughby his wife’s morning exercise had been not only satisfying but was showing a marked improvement in her placing of the ball. She’d bought several hundred of the cheap driving range balls from a range that was cycling the old ones out. So far they’d given her satisfaction beyond her expectations. At this rate her husband had better start building his paddling speed up pretty smartly.

We all have our own ways of letting off steam. Some we share with our partners and others we wisely don’t. In the years I worked in the field of therapy I was surprised how many different ways people found to exercise and how much it helped them. In this particular case I worked with the wife some years ago, to improve her golf swing. We recorded a marked improvement over several sessions. She only let out the reason for her desire to improve late in the course of her therapy. Not entirely surprisingly the husband came to see me several years later on his wife’s suggestion, for his feelings of persecution and anxiety.

I suggested he might think of paddling in a less wooded area. Sometimes we have to leave the shoreline after all. The years have taken both my clients, and out of respect I have changed their names. However, I am pretty sure the wife took her secret to the grave with her.

Stay safe,

Rob Hadley

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