Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pasta and Par

You've probably noticed the long lapse between posts here lately.

Normally, I would blame that on my job and my business and personal travel schedule but that just isn't the case this time around. You see, I've been bit by a bug; the golf bug.

Clubs and Balls before Practice

I used to play quite a bit in my late 20's. I was never any good. I'd write "10" on the scorecard for each hole and be on my way, hacking and slashing my way through nine or eighteen holes. It wasn't that I couldn't putt the ball into the hole, I just couldn't drive the ball off the tee.

It would take me six or eight shots to get the green. Once I got to the green, I could normally get the ball into the hole in two, must have been all that putt-putt growing up. My score didn't matter because I enjoyed getting out and walking the course.

When I was home in Michigan two weeks ago, my dad and I played nine holes and all the fun I used to have when I played came rushing back. I couldn't wait to get home and start playing again. Once home, I scoured Craigslist for a set of woman's clubs and found a barely used set of Square Two ladies clubs less than two years old

My New Golf Clubs

and promptly hit the driving range.

Driving Range at Belmont's Golf in Ridgefield, CT

I've decided to take lessons with a pro to get help with my swing, grip and generally not develop any bad habits. That way maybe, just maybe, I can hit the ball further than ten feet off the tee.

I somehow suspect that is going to take lots and lots of practice with quite a few balls.

XL Basket of Range Balls

Last night, after work, I played nine holes at a local public links course. I was paired with two other single players, both pretty good golfers, one who had a 12 handicap. I warned them both that I was just learning and if they wanted, I'd drive, pick up my ball, take two strokes, and play long ball.

They said not to worry. That everyone had started out "hacking" their way around a course and since we were the last group starting that unless I got really frustrated, to just play my game. They were patient when I shanked the ball at the first tee, helped me find my ball when I put it in the deep rough, and applauded me when I two putted the par 4 third hole.

I only had to play long ball on one hole and even had some pretty decent drives. When we ended up at the clubhouse after nine holes, I bought them both a beer while we tallied our cards. Much to my surprise, I broke 70!

I had a 69 on the nine holes. I even had two pars, the 4th hole where I made a great putt and the 7th hole where I drove the ball over 80 yards straight down the fairway. Both the guys were great and even said that they'd play with me again. I left the course with a smile a mile wide. It was the best round of golf I've ever played.

I got home after dark, and even though it was a bit late, I decided to celebrate my great nine holes with a pasta dish made with five simple ingredients: penne, turkey Italian sausage, pasta sauce, cheese, and fresh basil from my garden.

Par 5 Pantry Pasta

I washed it down with a nice red wine from Spain.

Sitting down to watch a reply of last year's US Open on Golf Channel while I ate my dinner, I realized that while I may never break 100 on eighteen holes of golf, I was glad I had picked the game up again.

Mark Twain just might be wrong about golf being a good walk spoiled...

Par Five Pasta

1 cup penne or ziti
1 1/2 links of Turkey Italian Sausage, sweet
1/3 cup prepared pasta sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Bring to boil 2 cups of salted water in a 2 quart sauce pan. Add penne and cook for 12 - 14 minutes or until al dente.

Remove sausage from its casing and while pasta is cooking, in a non stick skillet, break up and cook sausage throughly.

Drain pasta, reserving about 1 oz of the pasta water. Return pasta to the sauce pan, add pasta sauce, cooked sausage, and enough reserved pasta water to thoroughly coat the pasta with sauce.

Place pasta and sausage in a pasta bowl, toss with chopped basil and top with shredded cheese.