June 22, 2003

Golf. GOLF!!!!

I'm an avid golfer, which is to say I thrive on huge doses of disappointment, irritation and frustration.

I can hit a long drive, sometimes as far as 280-300 yards, I can put approach shots on or very near the green and I can sink tremendously long putts. But, I don't do any of the above very often and never all on the same hole.

It's ridiculous, really, that a game so simple in theory (you just hit a ball in a hole, right?) can result in a string of profanity unheard of in the civilized world. All this from one of the most civilized of modern sports.

And yet, almost every summer weekend, I find myself with my father or a few friends trying to overcome all my golf shortcomings in the offbeat chance of parring the course. It hasn't happened yet.

I think I first took back the blade at the age of seven when my parents, in what I now perceive to be a cruel joke, bought me my first set of starter clubs.

At that early age I was entranced by the shimmering metal shafts and peculiarly shaped club heads. I wanted to try them out right away.

But, as I recall, at the age of seven I also entertained friends by swallowing dimes, which points to a definite flaw in my judgement.

I should also have seen the warning signs when I first heard my father muttering under his breath after his every shot.
But, no, he didn't want to discourage my tender enthusiasm for this new sport so he conveniently forgot to tell me about subtle golf rules like "out of bounds," "lost balls" and "keeping score."

As I skittered around the course, jabbering away and swiping at the little white ball, he no doubt smiled to himself, knowing I was sowing the seeds for what would become a lifelong love/hate relationship for a sport that hates everyone.

But what about Tiger Woods and, um, all those other big name golfers? Surely the game loves them. No, it doesn't; they've just managed to get the sport in a tough submission hold from which it can't wiggle free.

I showed an early glimmering of talent for the irritating game, and my first varsity letter came in golf my eighth grade year. But, although I would eventually letter in football and wrestling, I would quickly lose the puny hold I had on golf and never hit the varsity ranks again.

The game still holds some mystique for me, however. There's a definite beauty to walking along the finely manicured fairways and greens of a well-maintained golf course. And, despite my lamentations, I do occasionally have a pretty decent round.

But, perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of golf is the chance to share some time with my father and friends. A round of golf provides a much-needed time-out from everyday life and lets me give others a little bit of ribbing when a shot dribbles two feet ahead after a powerful swing.

And, if I can jockey between vast amounts of cursing, groans and muttering, I might even find time to engage in a conversation.

Golf also provides an outlet for immense creativity. After all, it takes a great deal of skill and stealth to cheat without anyone noticing.

I had to give a friend of mine an "A" for creativity after he tried explaining how the yellow ball he hit off the tee into tall grass had actually gone 400 yards into the middle of the fairway and also turned white.

In addition, I've heard my father come up with some inventive curses rather than deal directly with expletives. I remember when he missed a five foot putt by the slimmest of margins and yelled, "Well, you big chicken crap-head!"
I'm not sure what a "chicken crap-head" is, but it sure sounds like a distasteful off-shoot of the Chicken McNuggett.
That's not to say I've never taken part in golf-induced profanity. Anyone who has ever shared the same course with me no doubt heard my mournful wailing bouncing off the trees like so many golf balls.

Such is the game of golf. When you're not admiring a powerful tee off sailing through the air, you're knee deep in water searching for the ball.

So it was when my father said to me this year, "Golf is a game you can enjoy throughout your life," I could only nod in agreement.

Despite my stoic outward appearance, somewhere deep down inside, where a small fortune in dimes is forever lodged, a tiny voice yelled, "Noooooooooooooo!"

Posted by Ryan at June 22, 2003 10:46 PM
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