I’VE started playing golf again.
Don’t ask me why because I really don’t know. Maybe my life was too calm and I needed something to get me frustrated.
If that was the case, then I am on the right track because golf can be the most frustrating game known to man.
Golf is not new to me. Forty years ago, I played two or three times a week in a futile attempt to improve my game. But, like many hackers, I could never take my game to the level I wanted. So I gradually shifted my focus to tennis.
Tennis is wonderful. You get plenty of exercise and all you need is a racquet and a $3 can of balls.
But the best part of tennis is that you can make one bad shot and forget it. Every bad shot you make in golf not only must be displayed on your scorecard, but one flub generally leads to another. Then you start writing down big numbers.
Golf is not good for your self-esteem. You slice a drive deep into the woods and you think you are the worst golfer that ever played the game. But when you walk deep into the woods looking for your ball, you find a dozen of others and for a fleeting moment you feel better, as you think, “Man! Everybody must be as bad as I am!”
That may be true. On a recent Monday, while playing behind some really slow hackers, I decided to do a little ball hawking to kill time.
On one wooded dogleg hillside I found 49 balls, most of them almost brand new. Did anyone stay on the fairway during the previous weekend? I suddenly felt a little satisfaction because my ball was just barely in the rough and still playable.
The sad part is that had I looked a little longer, I probably could have found two or three dozen more balls. But 49 balls in 10 minutes isn’t bad. So, my pockets and hands full, I just gave up. By this time, the guys ahead of me were finally leaving the green.
I had to smile while watching this slow foursome make its way around the course. There was one guy who must have hit 10 shots on every hole. He would drive into one rough and then pound his next shot into the weeds on the opposite side of the fairway.
It always seemed to take him about eight shots to get onto the green, but once there he would kneel down and study his putt for what seemed to be five minutes, I suppose because that’s what the pros on TV do.
That’s another frustrating aspect of golf—watching those professional golfers on television. They make it look so easy. They just walk up to the tee and whack that ball 300 yards down the middle. Every hacker thinks he is going to do that on every hole and yet the woods are full of new golf balls.
I always marvel at how the gallery crowds up close to edges of the fairway when those pros tee off. If they got that close when I was teeing off, there might be five dead people on every hole.
I began my golf “comeback” last summer and on one occasion I played with a couple of guys who snickered a bit when I pulled my old wooden driver out of my bag.
“You need to upgrade,” one man said. He pulled his metal driver out and showed it to me. “The technology has improved over the years.”
I just smiled.
“I’ll show you modern technology,” I said as I reached into my bag and pulled out the putter that I had bought from a friend for $1 when I was in the eighth grade. I showed him the handle covered with 1962 black electrical tape. “Now this is high technology!” I added.
By the way, I out-drove the guy by 20 yards with my wooden driver. He was not impressed.
I did upgrade to a metal driver this year and it has improved my game. But on some holes I still use my old wooden driver, which gives me less distance but more control.
Golf is a game of highs and lows. Unless you play, you can’t understand how frustrating it is to hit your driver 250 yards straight down the middle and then dig a foxhole with a 7-iron on what should be an easy approach shot.
You can hit a 6-iron 150 yards on every shot in the fairway, but you always drop it in the water when trying to hit the ball 140 yards over a pond.
There are only two things that are certain when it comes to golf. First, if you wash your ball, you will lose it on the next hole.
Second, no matter how badly you play the first 17 holes, you will always do well on the 18th. That allows you to leave with hope and brings you back again.
Golf is a frustrating game.