The Greatest Game
So I went golfing yesterday. Why not, the weather was perfect, 39 degrees, light rain until it became heavy rain, and a 40 mph wind. The course was in good shape, just a little remnant snow in the sand traps that only made them more of a challenge, which is exactly what they were meant for. At least when I was down in them, the wind seemed less noticeable and the sand had absorbed the standing water.
If you are one of the rare breed of golfers who understand this, you might even be wishing you had been there. If you are not a golfer, you are wondering what in the world I was doing out there. So let me explain.
It would be easy to say it’s just a man thing, but that wouldn’t be true as there were several women out there as well. To think that only men are crazy enough to do this would be sexist. Women golfers can be just as crazy as their counterparts. There’s more to it than just being crazy. True golfers have a passion for the ssport that surpasses sanity. What other explanation would there be for driving out to your favorite course in a downpour, surrounded by lightening, saying I’m sure there will be a window and I can get in a quick 18. Quick 18, that’s another strange description of a round of golf, unless you feel four and a half hours to be quick. And why would these same golfers venture onto a course at midday, with temperatures just below the boiling point and a humidity index nearing the century mark on one day and then golf with the temperature nearing zero and winds gusting at cat one hurricane force the next day? In the case of the later, at least the humidity was down.
The answer lies in the rewards of a good round of golf. There’s the obvious exercise one gets driving that golf cart. Don’t be shaming me, I still had to get in and out ninety to a hundred times, okay a hundred to a hundred and ten times. And then there’s all that shoulder exercise I get. And don’t forget the local flora knowledge I gain as I search through the underbrush and tree thickets, searching for the final resting spot of my drive. In this last case, proper identification of the poisonous plants versus the just plain irritating ones might determine a retrievable shot from a small contribution to the golf industry as I open another sleeve of balls.
So why do golfers seem to ignore the elements, no matter how cruel, to go hit that tiny white ball through eighteen holes, avoiding deep sand traps, ponds full of water, and deep dark woods? It’s the walk. I became a golfer the day I took a servers position in a local private country club. As one of the perks, I was allowed to play the course every Monday morning from 6:00 to 8:00 AM. All I had in my possession was an old wood shafted 2 iron, a sand wedge, and a novelty putter, but they were enough to get me around the course, or at least through a few holes. That experience was enough to hook me on a sport, that at 72, I still play even though I still don’t score much better than when I began. But it’s the walk. Every course is laid out different from the next, but they all have two prime objectives, the first is to challenge you with long holes, short holes, doglegs, sand traps, water and trees. The second objective is to accentuate the beauty of the location with long undulating fairways, so lush and green, followed up by a tabletop, tiered green set into a grove of evergreens or maybe stately oaks. The course begs you to walk it, to take in the views and the smell of new mown grass. This is what brings me back time and time again and begs me to not miss the opportunity to play a new course. The challenges forgive my occasional bad shot or even bad hole and the beauty rewards my willingness to play and allows me to forget the three or four golf balls I donated to the next golfer who finds them.
Golf is not for the faint at heart. It will punish your score almost as often as it rewards it. It will bring you out in days too hot to do anything else or so cold you have so many layers on that it’s difficult to even swing the club. It can wear you out or it can refresh your spirit. The true golfer finds the joy in the challenge and the beauty in the game.
I just noticed the clouds breaking up, temperatures up to 45, and the course is open. Time for a quick eighteen holes.
God, I love golf!