I just came in from playing my first round of golf since Thanksgiving.
The last couple springs and summers, I played a lot of golf. This is worth noting because I. Am. AWFUL. Golf is an expensive habit, but there is a public “club” with two courses that is about a 10-15 minute drive from both home and work. If you go after 3:00 p.m., there is a discounted rate; plus, you can buy a discount card at the beginning of the season that shaves another five bucks off the greens fee, and earns you free rounds the more you play, essentially paying for itself if you play with any regularity at all.
A couple buddies and I would go pretty much whenever we had an mid-week off day that coincided, plus either a Saturday or Sunday almost every weekend. Seriously, a lot of golf. You’d think I would improve. And I do, but at some point, you are what you are. And what I am is a bad golfer.
Even better, though, is the fact that despite being so atrocious, we like to gamble while we golf. In addition to the simple “whoever has the fewest strokes” thing that is, like, the point of the game, we also track match play results, a putting contest, and a game that awards points for being the first one on the green, the closest to the pin, and the first to hole out.
In English: we have a problem.
But if you think about it, it makes sense. How can you possibly feel good about going out and shooting a 124? Well, when you walk away with 30 extra bucks, essentially getting a free round of golf out of the day, it certainly eases the pain.
Most people don’t like doing things they’re not good at. But golf is one of those things where once the bug bites you, it’s terminal. When I walk up to the first tee, I bring my 3-hybrid, not my driver. Why? Because if I take my driver, the ball is going about 50 yards before careening into the nearest forest, regardless of what side of the fairway it’s situated on (I’m an equal opportunity ball-donater). But with the hybrid, there’s a 50/50 shot that the ball actually lands relatively close to where I want it to go. This sequence plays itself out on every hole, 18 times a day, every weekend, all summer.
I always describe my personal opinion like this: despite the fact that I just swung out of my shoes, drove my club into the ground, and chunked the ball about eight yards down the fairway, the next shot could be the best shot I ever hit.
And that’s the thing: when you’re as bad as I am, you don’t know when you might hit a fantastic shot. But if you don’t pick up the club, you’ll never know.
In some ways, golf is a metaphor for life, isn’t it?
(For the record, I shot a 134. Worst score I’ve posted in a while. Early rust. Good putts lipping out. Great tee shots that hit an invisible wall and plummeted from the sky.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)