I didn’t start playing golf until the year I graduated from college. It’s almost impossible to believe, but that was 47 years ago. Even though I got a later start than many of my friends, I have played my fair share of golf over the years. My wife, Nancy, the mother of my two beautiful daughters, Cate and Ruth, will verify that claim.
Even though I have never been a single-digit handicapper, I feel that I am qualified to write about the game that is both fascinating and frustrating. Below you will find in descending order of importance my current list of Golf Truths. I am sure your own list will differ from mine, but No. 1 should be on everybody’s!
- Tension kills distance. This is a golf truth that applies to both the young and the old. As two-time Major winner Johnny Miller said, “Only one golfer in a thousand grips the club lightly enough.”
- I don’t keep a round-by-round count, but if I had to be honest with myself, I would say that my career bad-bounce number and my good-bounce number are about the same. Bottom line, I’ve learned to take both the good and the bad bounces, although I tend to remember the bad ones with greater clarity. I guess I have come to accept that the GOLF GODS aren’t out to get me.
- 8. Age does matter. It doesn’t seem that long ago – maybe 20 years – that more often than not my group of friends played the red tees (6,556 yds., par 70). Gradually, we began splitting time between the reds and the silvers (6,293 yds.). Then the move to the silvers became permanent. Well, permanent until about two years ago when a few of the guys started playing the gold tees (5,637 yds.) This movement forward is the result of one thing: age. Yes, you can keep Father Time at bay a bit by eating healthy and working out, but eventually everyone loses his fastball. Play It Forward – If You Want.
- Man up! Bad weather -- rain, wind, cold – happens. Rather than complaining about the elements or letting them beat you up mentally, embrace the challenge. Get a great rain suit and rain gloves or layer up on a frosty day. It’s fun seeing what you can do when you have to fight the course, Mother Nature and your opponent.
- Never let a betting opportunity pass you by. Golf is a betting game, but it’s not about the money. To me, it’s about it’s the ceremony – one friend handing over $5 to another friend in the Men’s Grill. Golf bets should be settled up in public while having a drink, not while walking off of 18 or in the parking lot! And, as actor Bill Murray says, “There is money you earn as salary, bonuses, investments, interest, theft; and then there’s money that you win playing golf. Now that’s real money.”
- There are two types of tournament golf – match play and medal play. I much prefer match play because as a 16-handicapper one or two blow-up holes a round is pretty much a given. Those big numbers – 7, 8, 9 and 10 – have dashed the tournament hopes of many “average” golfers.
- The most-important must-remember word in golf is “attitude.” Hey, I am going to have my fair share of clunky shots every round. I know that. The trick is to move on as quickly as possible after the pulled-hook second shot, the skulled chip or the putt that simply waved bye-bye as it passed the hole. I am doing my best to become a next-shot thinker.
- If you want to get better – or at least maintain – you must do two things: 1) Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. The best way to do that is to take a lesson – or two or three. 2) Then practice. As Kansas City Country Club head professional Andy Fisher says, “Be sure you are practicing the right things and, to be honest, that means taking lessons. Even low handicappers should take check-up lessons. Practice should be reinforcing the fundamentals. Practice should be a dress rehearsal for the real thing. When the heat is on, you want to have the confidence that you own your swing, not renting it.”
- Not so long ago, if somebody asked me how I played, my answer would have been based almost entirely on my score. That’s just not the case now. Sure I love playing well, which for me is 82 to 86. However, I have now come to realize that playing well is good thing, but playing with my friends is a GREAT THING! I feel very lucky – blessed even – to have a big group of men who enjoy wonderful, give-and-take conversation as much as hitting a towering drive. Drives & Smiles!
- Mother’s Day is NOT a golf day – unless you have gone BIG, REALLY BIG on the present. And even then, you had better get a handwritten permission slip to play at a time of HER choosing. Of course, this rule does not apply if you wife or mother wants to play with you. Extra Credit: If you play on Mother’s Day with both your wife and mother, you get double Brownie Points!
Mother’s Day Is Her Day!