I love playing golf. I love warming up on the range; being outside in all types of weather; the fact that every course has its own personality; the ball toss to determine the day’s pairings; finding out what my friends have been doing lately; winning a hole for my team with an up-and-down par; looking at the latest and greatest new clubs in the pro shop; trying to hit a new shot under pressure; reading about the game; playing a round without making a double bogey, which happens every so often, and the 19th hole -- reviewing the round, settling up the bets and having a drink.
And I love looking forward to the next round.
Of course, my wife, Nancy, uses a few other words -- “addiction,” “obsession”-- when describing my “love” for the game. And when I leave for the course on not-so-perfect days (41 degrees, a little sleet and wind gusts up to 15 mph), she simply says, “Crazy.” As I am heading out, I kiss her good-bye and repeat the line my friend, Chuck Hunter, taught me, “It really isn’t that bad out.”
I am still not sure how I got hooked on the game. I didn’t start playing until the summer of 1974 after I finished college. And it wasn’t as if I was a natural. I struggled mightily to learn the basics with a new set of Golden Bear irons and woods that my dad bought at Sears for me.
Little by little I fell for the game. I began going to the driving range and hitting off the mat. Then I graduated to going to public courses by myself. I still pity the men who were paired with me by the starter. Eventually I got a little better and I convinced a few friends to join me. Now, over 40 years later, I belong to a club that is near my home, I have lots of friends who play golf and I have made a lot of friends because of golf.
Of course, even though I play most weekends, my game is still very middling. Right now my home-course handicap is 13. It might go up or down during the course of a year, but my game really doesn’t change that much. My one claim to fame is that I have broken 80 at least twice a year for the last 18 years.
I know that streak will come to end sooner rather than later. During a lesson last year, our club’s head pro, Andy Fisher, said, “Allan, you aren’t getting any younger.” Evidently that is code for “Forget about hitting it long; be happy with straight.”
But that’s okay. I have come to accept the fact that my love of the game far exceeds my ability to play it.