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A much needed ‘fore!’

POSTED November 6, 2009 10:55 p.m.
I was standing about 50 yards from the tee of the second hole and imagining, just for a second, what it’d feel like to get smacked by a speeding golf ball. It wasn’t a wish. It was just a thought.
It was Monday, a day of clear skies and no wind. I woke up about three hours earlier to drive up to Stockton for an unusual assignment: I intended to shadow Stephanie Hammell, the captain and face of this season’s Turlock High girls golf team, for her last round as a high school golfer.
Stephanie and I had a quick talk before the golfers in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament took their first swing. One of the rules a reporter/photographer needs to obey during competition is to stay behind the ropes. Do not get in the way of a golfer, as any one at a country club will tell you. I did this but still suffered an unfortunate fate.
Again, I was 50 yards from the tee. This was the first hole for Stephanie and her two playing partners. She swung first, and the ball went about 150 yards. This was when I had the thought.
Whenever I’m at a sporting event, I tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios. I imagine stumbling into the pool during swim meets or water polo matches. I picture myself getting blasted in the face by an ill-advised basketball pass. I think about a volleyball player smashing a kill straight into my body, leaving me crying like a little kid. They’re all just thoughts.
Before Monday, the closest thing to a sporting disaster I experienced happened in the summer. I was shooting the Modesto Nuts game when a line-drive foul ball turned into a laser beam down the third-base line. I was sitting in the nearby seats, anticipating a decent shot. The ball was blazing my way and I didn’t move.
At this point, I was in shock. I had imagined being in a situation like this, and thinking I can catch it with my hand, which, in turn, would receive an ovation from the spectators. But when you’re in a dangerous situation, you freeze and you hope it doesn’t kill you. The ball, luckily, breezed inches to the right of my face.
“Man,” the guy seated nearby said, “that almost got you.”
But this time, I had no idea I was in danger. I was looking at the fairway, thinking about the different angles I could use for the next shot. And bam! The ball smacked me on the right side of my hip. I was stunned. The girl, supposedly one of the best players in the section (and no, it wasn’t Stephanie) contorted into a standup fetus position, as she hide her face and parts of her body. She was in shock, so this wasn’t intentional. She apologized about 10 times throughout the day.
I told her I was fine.
She never stopped apologizing.
And I did the most logical thing after the fact: I stayed behind the group, allowing all of them to swing freely without consequences.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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