Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nine iron over the starboard side

I consider myself to be somewhat athletic. I try and go running at least two or three times a week, I've played on several slow-pitch softball teams over the years, I've bowled my share of 200+ games, etc. I enjoy sports, whether watching or participating. And I feel that with time and practice I've been able to become at least decent at every sport I've tried.

Every sport that is, except one.

An old joke says, "Golf is a four-letter word." Another says, "Golf can best be described as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle."

Truer words have never been spoken. I took up golf several years ago and found it to be by far the most difficult sport I've ever tried to learn. It has, in a sense, become my white whale.

When I was golfing, I measured my progress less by scorecard and more by the number of balls I lost per round. When I began, losing six balls a round in the water, woods, or across the street in someone's front yard was commonplace. By the time I stopped playing, I was finishing most rounds with all my balls present and accounted for.

I haven't been golfing in six or seven years. My clubs, of which I never broke a single one, sit in one corner of my office. Some days they seem to taunt me, reminding me that I never conquered this game.

Also, for some odd reason, I've had an abnormal number of dreams about golf over the years. Even though I was never very good, and never even played that much, I would dream about it. And I would wake up wanting to go golfing. Why? I suck at it. So why do I enjoy it so much? What is the allure of golf?

I may not be able to answer that question, but the simple fact is that for whatever reason, men love golf. Golf and cars. Think about when man walked on the moon. What are two of the things you remember most about that? They hit a golf ball and they drove around in that little car.

I have a feeling the golf thing wasn't even approved by NASA. It probably went something like this:

Buzz: "Dude, you're bringing golf clubs on the space capsule?"
Neil: "Yeah, you know, in case we get bored. Have you seen those moon pictures? It's so barren and gray. Don't mention this to anyone, but honestly, it looks kinda lame."

And that US flag they brought? That wasn't some stake of claim. That was a flagstick so Neil would know where the hole was.

(Yes, I'm aware Alan Shepard is the astronaut who golfed on the moon, but I workshopped this using Alan. Not as funny as Buzz and Neil.)

So this past weekend, I loaded my harpoons in the back of the Pequod and went to the driving range in pursuit yet again of my white whale. After spending roughly an hour spraying a bucketful of dimpled projectiles in a variety of directions and distances, one thing became crystal clear. I suck.

But also, I've got the fever again. I'm back on the wagon, or golf cart, as the case may be. And no water hazard is safe.

Standing there after I shanked my first shot off the tee Sunday, those immortal words from 38 years ago wafted through my mind. Slightly altered, of course.

One small swing for man, one giant slice for Bone.

"Swing, swing, swing, from the tangles of, my heart is crushed by a former love. Can you help me find a way to carry on again?"


  1. When I was golfing, I measured my progress less by scorecard and more by the number of balls I lost per round. When I began, losing six balls a round in the water, woods, or across the street in someone's front yard was commonplace. By the time I stopped playing, I was finishing most rounds with all my balls present and accounted for.

    I laughed really hard at this paragraph. It brings a good visual, I guess, of how we all measure success differently. :)

    I don't understand the allure of golf for men, and I somehow think I never will. I'm OK with that. Most men I know are horrible at it, and yet, there they go, off to do it again and then whine about their scores. Why???

    I guess it's one of life's mysteries that shall never be solved for me.

  2. LOL! I've never played the real stuff but I'm not half bad at Put-put...normally. But this last time we went I got my ball stuck in the first hole...(somehow it landed just perfect into the pvc pipe that was in there) and on the second hole I shot my ball into the water hazzard. The owner teased me when I had to go back for another ball.

    DD won the round! She got 3 hole in ones.

  3. Hilarious!

    Did you ever think that perhaps the allure of golf is that it is one of the few things you have yet to master? I believe that challenges offer the biggest draw of anything. This is something you want to do just to prove to yourself you can. And because, as you said, men have a thing for golf and cars.

    I, personally, will stick with George Carlin's view on golf; pardon the cussing - his words, not mine: Have you ever watched golf on television? It's like watching flies fuck. I can't think of anything more boring. Possibly watching paint dry.

    I would, however, be willing to go out and actually play. :)

  4. Glad you can keep track of your balls. I hear those puppies are important!

  5. TC: Thanks. It was quite an accomplishment for me when I stopped losing so many balls. And I'm not sure what the allure is, either. But it's there, no doubt.

    Renee: Ugh, I hate those putt-putt water hazards. 3 holes in one, way to go DD!

    Avery: Yes, but it is alluring to people far more skilled at it than I.

    Blondie: And can be expensive! :)

  6. I concur. Golf is a lot harder than it looks on TV, or that Tiger Woods PS2 video game. LOL

    Last summer Shane was in town and we went to Re-par on Danville Rd... it was the first time I'd ever hit golf balls. It was not pretty.

    I live right on the golf course you know. Next time you're coming over, bring the clubs!

    A lot of guys in my office play golf, and they are always taking off at lunch to "play a benefit game" it seems. Not, that I need an excuse to leave the office during the day... but it might be more legit. what?

  7. t has, in a sense, become my white whale.
    Love this sentence. Love this post

    Can feel the honesty and the passion for something not yet mastered

    I do get thrown out of golf courses more than many people go to them. Something about not being walking paths when they're always the best places

    But enough about me.

    There's a beauty to this post that goes beyond what you have been writing

    I think because I find beauty in things people attempt to master, might someday but haven't yet

    The NASA part was funny--Alan Shepard too but didn't find this a particularly funny post

    Just a perfect pitch one

  8. I still have the clubs my dad bought for me when I was 14. They are waaaay to small. But they work for when I play once a year or so. But I don't keep score...I just open another beer.

  9. I read on a snapple cap that Americans spend more than $600 million per year on golf balls, I guess a lot of people lose a lot of balls while playing.

  10. Java Boo Boo: You should invest in some clubs. I hope you're not too close to the course. My balls have been known to cross the street a time or two.

    Pia: Thanks. Maybe it's because we all have a white whale, or two :)

    I remember wandering onto a golf course from a park when I was little. I enjoyed the neatness of it, the grass so close cut and freshly mowed.

    Lass: I've had mine for probably about ten or twelve years. I'm considering getting some new ones, though right now I don't see a ton of sense in it, since I could probably play about as well with a log.

    GirlFPS: Wow, cool Snapple stat :)

  11. The beauty of riding dressage, my sport, is that it is so international. I've learned to curse at my failings (and my horses' stubbornness) in a multitude of languages. There's something intensely satisfying about that that I could never quite equal when I was still trying my hand at golf...

  12. Your "white whale"? Wow! So were you all-pro in college? Does it get under your skin that much? I've tried golf (from the range), but I didn't find it that stimulating. And I'm quite the athlete myself (crew, soccer, basketball, and even bowling!) But now my game is comedy, as you already know!

  13. I had to print this off for my boss. They "network" on the green frequently. I decided earlier this year that I needed to take up golf. After being on the green in June, I rethought that decision. It is just too hot to chase a ball around for 5 hours.

  14. I golf consistently at 85 - give or take a few feet. And I do mean feet. 85 feet is about how far I can drive the ball on a good day.

    I prefer frisbee golf or putt putt.

  15. Gay: So am I to deduce you could only curse at golf in one language? :) I've definitely heard some colorful language on the golf course.

    Lucy: No, I'm sure I narrowly missed being all-pro though :) Being on the course is much more fun than the driving range, in my opinion. You should try it at least once.

    Melanie: It is hot! Best time to go is early morning or late evening.

    Charlottalove: You had me for a second there :) I've been wanting to get into frisbee golf for awhile. I received one disc for my birthday, but haven't seen any others to purchase.

  16. You crack me up - I play golf, more like play a hole or part of one and then walk awhile. The key is to not care how many balls you lose, in fact, see if you can't break your record, I bet you play better.

  17. If you wanna feel better about your golf game, take my charge putt-putt golfing. Last time we went, she lost 11 balls in a 30 minute game.

  18. I think golfing is probably fun. I've never been anything but mini-golfing. I've don't think I've ever been to a driving range either. I would like to try it. Though I will not go with anyone that knows how to golf so they can't yell at me. I'm better manning the cart and drinking beer. That IS part of the game you know.

  19. Marcia: So what you're saying is, I'm so concerned with not losing my ball that it's causing me to stress and tense up, thus not making a good shot, and doing the one thing I was trying to avoid all along?

    I think you may have something there.

    Jen: Lost eleven balls at putt-putt? That's gotta be some kind of record :)

    Carnealian: No one yells at you. They yell at themselves, the ball, the course, the sand, the trees, the clubs. But never at other people :)

  20. I love golfing, it is one of my new favorite things to do... although its been a few weeks since I have gone.

    I love throwing a club at least once a game. Where else can one have a temper tantrum without repercussions?

    I never realized until this afternoon that your answer machine was taken from George's.

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