A 19th Hole Confession

“Golf: A plague invented by the Calvinistic Scots as a punishment for man’s sins.”

― James Barrett Reston

Played golf recently with my eldest son. An added bonus was my two oldest grandsons caddying for us, which made the day all that more enjoyable, even if I did shoot my worst score in a year. 

And it’s on bad score days like that that I fully agree with the above quote. I can imagine the following scenario:

“Hi, guys.”

“Hi, Bill!” (exclaimed the congregated group at the nineteenth hole, there in communion to partake in libations, either asking the golf gods for a blessing before playing or merely seeking company among others whose earlier play amounted to mortal sin. One fellow, noticing my slumped shoulders as I entered that sanctuary asked me if I’d already played and how my round went.)

“Golf is just another word for self-abuse!” I confessed.

(I was encouraged to go on.)

“I try, God knows I try, but I can’t stop flailing away,” (I admitted, my head hung low).

(The assembled group called out, to a man, “Amen, Brother, but you’re preaching to the choir! What’s your problem?”)

“My shaft is too stiff and I grip it too hard. My up-stroke is slow enough, but my down-stroke is too fast. I’ve got too much wrist action – it throws my tempo off and my balls are all over the place. When I play just with myself I couldn’t care less, I don’t worry about technique, I just enjoy it and look foreward to the finish. I prefer playing with my wife – I tend to take my time and always score well. Maybe because I obsess less on finishing and concentrate more on making sure she enjoys our stroke play.”

“Shaft stiffness isn’t everything. I’ve got a senior shaft – much less stiff, more flex, and at my age it just takes more strokes to hole out,” one older guy observed.

“So, you didn’t play with your wife today?” (another guy asked.)

“No,” (I blushed). “There were three other guys. I could tell right off they must play with each other all the time, and they kept trying to get me into their game, but I just tried to ignore them and keep to myself. Still, it was embarrassing, I felt like they were watching and silently critiquing my every stroke. Made me too anxious – I can’t perform well with an audience. And it’s especially embarrassing when I have my son and grandsons there!”

“That’s a problem for most people. You should play more with your wife and only by yourself if she’s otherwise unavailable or unwilling. I suppose an alternative is with your best buddy, who isn’t likely to judge how you do it, but that’s your call. Still, I know what you mean, golf can become an addiction, but if you have to play sometimes you’ve just gotta do your own thing and hope no one is watching. I could give you some lessons so you can demonstrate good technique to the boys,” the senior pro offered.

“Thanks, but I think they need to learn on their own – I’ll let their father worry about that. Still, you’ve all given me something to think about,” I confessed. “Next time I’ll ask the wife to play, just her and me.”

– Bill

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