Updated: Oct 14
Since returning from our summer travels, I have embarked on a great quest. No, nothing noble like running for the local school board or self-improvement related like curbing my intake of non-alcohol related carbohydrates; rather it’s something infinitely more difficult. I’m trying to learn how to play golf.
Or, to be more precise, I’m trying to suck at it just a little bit less.
Why am I writing about golf in a travel blog? Hard to say. Maybe because this blog is also about life. Golf is about life too. Or is life about golf?
Maybe the better question is why would I give up the life of an International Man of Mystery and Rogue RV Pilot for golf? A game for whose devoted practitioners the word bore was invented.
Add to this, golf is supremely difficult. Not just for me, even for professionals. Win a couple of majors and then watch while your putting disintegrates into shooting pool on an ice rink.
Winston Churchill did not back down easily from a challenge. In England’s darkest hour he inspired a nation to keep their chin up and carry on. But as regards to golf, he merely said this:
"Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."
Michael Jordan has this to say about it:
“From a competitive standpoint to me, it is the hardest game on the planet. I can always respond to an opponent, defensive guy, offensive guy, whatever. But in golf, it's like playing in a mirror and you are battling yourself consistently to try to get perfection.”
Hardest game on the planet... says MJ. This puts the enormity of my quest in perspective.
I have additional concerns beyond the sheer difficulty of the game. For one, there is a risk that my heart is not sufficiently pure. By this I mean that I seek a result (let’s call it shooting under 100, occasionally, and maybe hitting some fairways, sometimes). In return for this, I will faithfully go to the driving range and the golf course several times per week (time permitting). In my mind, this sacrifice should then be met with the desired outcome. In other words, I am bargaining with the universe.
But I feel as though I may be the Inca farmer who selects her leanest chicken for the ritual sacrifice to the rain gods. They know, and they don’t suffer such hubris or insults from mortals. I suspect that the Gods of Golf will accept nothing less than maniacal devotion. To wit: more time with the sticks to be sure, but also watching the Golf Channel, buying an online subscription to Golf Digest, installing a small putting green in my office, and buying all manner of new clubs that promise to be the magic elixir to unlock my heretofore untapped talent. Even then, these offerings must be offered up to Olympus without a trace of barter. I must be willing to do all of this and not gain a single stroke, because that’s how much I love the game of golf.
I don’t really like golf that much. It takes too long and costs too much. I get tired walking up the hills when I’m walking. I get tired of getting in and out of the cart when I’m riding. I don’t like hitting out of a bunker and having it go flying over the far side of the green while my foursome is lining up their putts. I do like the rare sticking of the green on a par 3 (or I would do, if it ever happened), and I particularly enjoy the clubhouse, which always has draft beer and fried food to drown one’s Saturday sorrows in. Add to this, I'm mostly of Scottish descent (though evidentially from a bag-piping clan and not so much a golfing clan), so it just goes with the look.
For these things at least, I’m looking for that quick fix to my game: that YouTube instructional video that unlocks Rory and Phil’s secret, or the beach ball-sized driver that turns me into John Daley on a boozy day.
I'm looking for the one thing that will get me the other thing. But as Judge Smails suggests, I'll likely get nothing and like it.
Stay in your lane Tom. You're already a travel bore. No need to become a golf bore.