i often mention i’m playing golf.
i play golf twice a week nearly every week. Often, i play three times a week. i have been known to play six times a week.
i like golf.
i don’t know why.
First off, nearly everyone seems to be better than me.
Second, when i start improving, i think i can make my goal of being a ten handicap. i have gotten as close as a 14. Then i back slide. i default to all of my bad habits. i play much better on the driving range, chipping area, and putting green than i do on the course. i am a mental wreck.
Thirdly, the game teases me. i used to think i was a decent athlete, not top tier, but pretty good in the sports i undertook: football, baseball, basketball, tennis, racquetball, bowling. Not really good mind you, but somewhat of a shade over decent. i now believe i was a figment of my imagination because of golf. The good shots, the lower scores, all are just pure luck: the golf gods teasing me. i know, know i’m not a good golfer.
My example? i was down to a 14 handicap at the end of last year. i was getting better. i was hitting the purest shots i’ve ever hit. i had found what i thought was the best grip, stance, etc. to putting. i had learned to chip better. Matt Brumbaugh, the pro at Sea ‘n Air, the North Island Naval Air Station course, had helped me immensely. Talking about the game with Pete Toennies, who unfortunately plays a lot like me, only a bit better, helped my mental attitude.
i was going to get to at least a 12 handicap, perhaps even lower.
It all went south. Big time. i’m back up to an 18, pretty much where i have been all of my life.
And then Friday, i proved it.
Sea ‘n Air. Perfect weather. Beautiful vistas. Great friends. By the third hole, i almost quit and walked off. “Why i am playing this game?” i asked, “Why put myself in such depression?” A couple of bogies, along with doubles and triples, no pars through seven holes. Depressing. Then i birdie eight and nine.
i think, “Oh man, it came back in spades. i’m going to tear up the back.” Nope. A couple of bogies, one triple, no pars. Oh yes, i birdied fifteen and seventeen. Four great holes amidst disaster, chaos.
So i keep telling myself i’ve played golf for almost sixty years. I’ve only played in a foursome with someone i did not like two or three times max. If i don’t think about my game, it’s damn enjoyable.
About twenty-five years ago, we were in the lobby of our time-share in Park City, waiting for transportation back home after week of skiing. Several others were also waiting, and two men, both just past middle age, began talking.
“Where you from,” one asked.
“San Diego,” was the reply.
“San Diego,” the other mused, “You must play golf.”
“Yep,” the San Diegan confirmed.
“What’s your handicap?”
“Fourteen; what’s yours?”
“Eight! Wow,” the San Diegan admired, “I’d give anything to be an eight. If I were an eight, I would be perfectly happy.”
“No you wouldn’t,” the other golfer answered.
He’s right, and that is why golf is the most frustrating sport in the world.
And why this post is labeled “jewell in the Rough.” That’s where i spend most of my time.