Ed Puskas: See you on the course

The Vindicator sponsors the Greatest Golfer of the Valley championships, but that’s where my association with “greatest” and “golfer” begins and ends.

Simply put, I’m not great at golf.

I’m not even good at it.

But as is typical of most duffers, I somehow manage to hit enough good shots in every round to convince myself I’m close to a breakthrough.

It doesn’t take much for me to buy into the notion that the next bucket of balls at the range or the next 18 will provide that moment of clarity when everything changes as I address the ball in the tee box or stand over a 12-foot putt.

Similarly, it doesn’t take much to convince me the Cleveland Browns are about to play the game that changes everything. I’ve been saying that since 1999, but I’m always ready to buy into what they’re selling, even though I usually feel like I just got talked into buying a 1976 AMC Gremlin by 4 p.m. on most fall Sundays.

But this really could be the Browns’ year.

Back to my other masochistic pursuit.

I’ve been playing golf since I was 15. I started out with mismatched clubs from someone’s old set and used-club bins at various pro shops, but eventually graduated to irons and woods fitted just for me. That led to lessons and those resulted in some quick results. Back in the 1990s, I was routinely shooting in the mid-40s for nine holes when the layout wasn’t too challenging.

But then along came fatherhood and more work responsibilities and soon the clubs were relegated to a closet, where they mostly collected dust instead of bad shots between the odd outings.

For about four years, I didn’t touch them at all after convincing myself that my chronically sore right shoulder — torn rotator cuff? — wouldn’t cooperate.

And then I was invited to play a round at Trumbull Country Club last summer. (Thanks again, Dr. James LaPolla.)

I dusted off the clubs, bought a pair of golf shoes and quickly discovered ... I was still terrible.

But I also realized I still love the game, perhaps now more than ever.

I’m still not good, but there has been progress. Not as many drives find woods, water or distant fairways. My short game has improved a lot and some of those putts are starting to drop.

Like most hackers, I still struggle to string together good shots, but I’m more of a student of the game now. When I’m not playing, I’ve found myself watching and rewatching cable TV golf shows and scouring the internet for pointers.

Just the other night I spent two hours watching former PGA Tour players Doug Tewell and Arron Oberholser touting the benefits of Tewell’s “Square to Square” method. It was 4:30 a.m., but I was ready to hit some balls.

Is there a 24-hour driving range in the Valley?

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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