I really do understand that I am a little bit nutty on the subject of golf. Golf is my go-to escape. I know most men have several interests such as traveling, hunting, cooking, wine collecting, fishing, bridge, gin, gourmet cooking, art and antiques, dining at highly rated restaurants, photography, woodworking, gardening, grilling, skiing, hiking, running, motor cycling and sailing.
Now that I think about it, I am not totally one dimensional. I do like to drink wine and I certainly enjoy going to a friend’s house for a just-off-the grill steak. However, when it is all said and done, golf is my primary pastime or as my wife, Nancy, says, “You are rather focused on golf.”
While I admit to occasionally second guessing my one-track mind, those moments don’t last long because golf itself offers such a great variety of experiences.
Yes, golf is a sport and like any sport in that it requires a reasonable amount of commitment. The checklist to become and then remain a somewhat decent player includes the following:
- Buying the right equipment. While I am not buying new clubs as often as a few of my friends, I do enjoy reading about equipment, talking about the latest innovations in clubs and testing new clubs.
- Learning. I trust a few of my friends when it comes to helping me with my swing, but lessons from Andy always prove to be beneficial.
- Practice. If you want to keep your game at the present level, you should spend time practicing. If you want to get better, you must spend time practicing.
- Playing. Every round is a test, but that’s why it’s fun.
And while I truly enjoy the mental and physical challenges of the game, golf has become my GREAT ESCAPE because of the friends I have made over the last 42 years. I will always be thankful to Bob Southall, a fellow teacher at the Loomis-Chaffee School (Windsor, CT), who knew I didn’t play, but one day handed me a bag of clubs and said, “Let’s go play. I don’t like playing alone. Just pick up when I tell you to.” That was in the school year 1974-75. Golf and I have been great friends ever since because golf is a game designed to be played with friends.
Golf has the ability to bring people together because a scratch golfer can enjoy playing with or against a 20-handicapper and the tradition of the 19th hole. I feel blessed to have such a wide variety of friends because of golf. I have friends who are quite conservative politically and others who believe in a single-payer national health insurance system. There are pokers and there are jokers. Some friends are very competitive on the course, while others are very mellow regardless. Some guys play at a light-speed pace and others are “more deliberate.” There are my friends who are outspoken regardless of the topic; others are listeners. There are my University of Missouri friends, University of Kansas friends, Kansas State friends and Ivy League friends. There are my older golf friends who can chip and putt and the younger ones who can hit it 300 yards.
Now you know why golf is my GREAT ESCAPE. It is all about the variety – the variety of shots and conditions a golfer faces every round and the wonderful variety of friends I have made.
This past Thanksgiving weekend reminded me of just how lucky I was to have so many great friends because of golf. To each of my golf buddies, thank you for another year of memories remembered and made, good fun, keen competition, drinks shared and always lively conversation!
Allan (I will remain a 12 handicapper until the spring.)