By Jim Hunt
I’ve had a tenuous relationship with golf for over 50 years and I often wonder how the attraction has lasted this long. During every round of golf I play, I am convinced that it is the most frustrating game ever invented. There are 18 opportunities to stand in front of your friends and anyone else waiting to tee off and possibly embarrass yourself, like a fifth grader asked to read in front of the class. And in addition to the embarrassment, you sometimes must spend time walking through the woods and brush to find a $1.98 golf ball, before giving up and pulling a ball from your pocket and slyly dropping it and yelling, “I got it!”
Water is another part of golf that can turn a lovely afternoon into a tragic battle with the rain or the various ponds, rivers, and streams, that dot most every course. I have some hard and fast rules when it comes to rain. My rule is, “I don’t play in the rain!” A lot of my friends and business colleagues have elaborate rain gear and umbrellas that can cover a large Buick. When I feel the first drop of moisture, I am heading to the car and packing my golf bag into the trunk and heading to Applebee’s. When it comes to the water hazards on the golf course, I line up my shots to go opposite to the water. Unfortunately, more often than not, the ball finds its way directly into the water. On occasion, the ball will land in the soft soil, just a foot or two from the edge of the water. After taking a mighty hit at the ball, I end up covered from head to toe, with a thin layer of mud.
If the water wasn’t bad enough, sand is the next evil awaiting you on the golf course. As a young kid, I used to love going to the beach and building sandcastles and getting buried up to my neck with sand. On the golf course, sand is placed in things called bunkers and are designed to lure you into thinking you can easily loft the ball out with a club called the sand wedge. The reality is that you can hit the ball as hard as you can and move it about six inches. After several six-inch hits, you finally connect on one and the ball sails out of the bunker and lands 100 yards from the hole. This generally results in throwing your club into the nearest water hazard, thus completing the cycle of life!
Another psychological drama that plays out on the golf course is the ups and downs during the 18 holes. I’ve hit booming drives at the beginning of the round, only to shank the next six holes in a row. After using all the curse words in my vocabulary, my drive suddenly comes back and I apologize to the golf gods, only to lose it on the last hole of the round. If this were just happening to me, I would think that golf just isn’t my game, but it seems that everyone who plays the game has these same experiences. Even on the PGA, professional golfers will crumble in front of an international television audience and thousands of fans, as they drop a million dollars on a missed three-foot putt.
With all this in mind, I recently played my first round of the year, and as I breathed in the fresh spring air and the beautiful green grass, I boldly stuck my tee in the ground. A season full of hope laid before me and I hit a slight hook that curved around a massive oak tree and sat in the middle of the fairway. My playing partners fist bumped me, and my next shot landed six feet from the hole. A solid putt and I had my first birdie of the year! As I walked off the green, I said to myself, “I love this game!”