As you may already know, this past Friday I competed in a golf tournament despite the fact that I don’t play golf.
(OK, now that I’ve completed that opening sentence I realize “competed” is way too strong a word for what I did – at best I “participated.”)
Friday morning I posted a piece about the golf tournament because I figured it would be a “learning experience” which is what we call events that are actually humiliating. Calling them learning experiences puts a positive spin on some embarrassing shit.
The picture above is a golf ball I used, so you’ve got a pretty good idea of how my day went.
After a few practice swings at a driving range in preparation for my day of embarrassment I concluded that golf sucks because there is no one forcing you to make bad shots which means you have no one to blame but yourself when things go south.
That was “Why golf sucks, Part I.”
Now that I’ve had time to think about it, let me expand on that thesis.
(Like most of us I have no problem playing amateur psychiatrist and am quite willing to tell you why complete strangers do what they do even though I have no clue why I do what I do. But if I start being rational and logical at this late date in life, I’d kinda fuck up my track record.)
The fact that there is no one to blame for what you do, might explain why golfers decide to take out their frustration on golf clubs, caddies, wind, sun, grass and the Scottish people who were so depressed by a steady diet of mutton that they invented golf to take their minds off their next heaping helping of haggis.
If you hit a bad shot, clearly you can’t be at fault – that would be admitting you sometimes suck – so it must have been something else that caused you to hit the ball into what appears to be the kind of terrain that Lewis & Clark had to fight their way through to discover that America is really fucking big.
(BTW: I’ve just noticed that I appear to be using more profanity than usual, but it’s understandable – I played golf yesterday and it will take me awhile to get out of extreme-profanity mode. So bear the fuck with me.)
Timeout for a Lewis & Clark anecdote
My favorite Lewis & Clark story goes like this: when they decided to strike out into the American Wilderness, they were told to watch out for bears. L&C said, oh yeah, we know about bears, we have them back East.
But they were thinking black bears, so the first time the saw a grizzly bear they said: “What the fuck is that?” (Clearly, Lewis & Clark were golfers and would say “fuck” at the drop of a coonskin cap.)
Little known fact about Lewis & Clark:
Historians have incorrectly concluded that President Thomas Jefferson sent them out to explore the Louisiana Purchase because after spending $15 million Jefferson wanted to know what the hell he just bought.
That’s the kind of shit that happens when you’re spending someone else’s money.
But in fact, Lewis was a golfer and Clark was serving as his caddie. Lewis hit a ball into the rough on a golf course just outside St. Louis and refused to take a drop because while the Purchase cost $15 million, in the early 1800s a good Titleist Pro V1 golf ball cost $16 million because they were more rare than a bunch of wilderness overpopulated by grizzly bears.
Lewis was determined to find that golf ball worth $16 million.
America actually got explored because Lewis kept mishitting shots and chasing that golf ball until they reached the Pacific Ocean.
The picture above depicts Sacagawea showing Lewis where his last shot went.
Fortunately, Sacagawea was keeping score and didn’t mind bending the rules, so when they returned to St. Louis after two years, four months and ten days, instead of turning in a scorecard with the correct number of strokes – 10,672,384,258 – Lewis claimed he double-bogeyed the hole and took a 78 for the entire 18 holes although he was penalized for slow play.
Back to present day events
On my first shot of the day I walked up to the tee, swung like I knew what I was doing and hit a drive down the middle of the fairway. Second shot, same thing.
After just one hole I figured I had this golf thing licked.
And then for the next 11 holes I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat. I topped balls, took out divots large enough to hold a picnic on and hit balls sideways – and that was when I actually made contact.
My only contribution to our foursome was making everybody else feel better about their shots.
Then the tide began to turn and I think I have an explanation, which of course includes a baseball reference because everything in Life relates to baseball.
When a ballplayer gets the throwing yips it’s called “The Thing.” If a teammate has the “The Thing” nobody wants to play catch with him because after he throws a couple balls into the stands you’ll start thinking about what it takes to throw a baseball correctly and now you have “The Thing” too.
There are some things best done without conscious thought which explains much about baseball, golf and having a third margarita with lunch.
My golfing companions – Jason Kendall, his wife Trish and their friend Whitney – were trying to be helpful and giving me advice whenever they could catch their breath after laughing their asses off at my most recent shot.
But by telling me what I was doing wrong, it made them start thinking about all the things you have to do to hit a golf ball correctly and they started topping balls, hitting them into the woods and swinging and missing entirely.
Having the hand-eye coordination that allowed him to play big league baseball for 15 years, Jason never did any of those things, but while he could hit the holy hell out of a golf ball he didn’t always know where it was going and that problem seemed to get worse the more he played with me.
Jason hit one prodigious drive that wound up just short of the green which would have been a beautiful shot had that been the hole we were actually playing.
Meanwhile, at the same time the group was deteriorating, I was getting better. I still couldn’t putt for shit, but I was hitting my woods and irons like Jack Nicklaus…or maybe it was Jack Nicholson…I get those two confused.
Either way, I played the last six holes like I knew what I was doing and that’s when I discovered “Why golf sucks, Part II.”
Not only does the lack of someone else to blame make you crazy, golf is a goddamn tease.
If you played 18 holes and never hit a good shot you’d probably throw your clubs into the nearest water hazard and quit. But golf allows you hit to hit enough random good shots to make you believe you might actually learn to play the game and that keeps you coming back for more humiliation.
Golf is like Lucy holding the football, assuring Charlie Brown that this time she won’t pull it away when he tries to kick it.
But I’m too smart for Lucy and golf.
There’s no way I’m getting sucked into this con game of thinking I could actually become a good golfer just because I hit a handful of good shots. At this stage of life there’s no way I could become good enough to consistently hit good shots down the middle of the fairway and would probably continue to slice and hook shots off into the wilderness.
On the other hand…
Bad golf is a good way to see America.
Just ask Lewis & Clark.