Each year, I play anywhere between 4-8 rounds of golf. The infrequency of my play is presumably a key contributor to the lack of improvement of my game.
I have over my life taken golf shots that defy the laws of physics. Balls careening in directions and angles that I could not replicate if I tried (including once where the ball went backwards.) I have hit trees, water and even golf carts with an almost impressive frequency.
But they are not the only hazards involved in my game. I have on multiple occasions nearly hit playing partners, strangers and at one point years ago, almost decapitated my friend’s mom with an errant tee shot. It is far more likely that if you hear me say four on a golf course, I am not referring to my score but issuing a warning.
With that wind up, one might ask why I still play at all. Well there are two simple answers.
As inconsistent and at times objectively awful my game can be, golf is still a game of shots. Both literally and figuratively. Each swing offers a chance to right the wrongs of the previous one and hit a ball clean and true. If you string together enough of these shots, you can get a decent score on a hole, maybe even a round.
So there I was on Friday. Amidst a round of balls scattered into the woods, where my putts consistently were left short, I strung together four of the best shots of my life for a birdie on a par five. It was on the second hardest hole on the course and was the only birdie my foursome had for the round – even though they all played better than me on this day.
A reminder for us all that no matter how frustrated or overmatched we may be, if we keep taking shots eventually something good can come out of it.
While this first reason is outcome based – a good shot, a good score – the primary reason I continue to play is about the process. For me, despite the frustration, golf is always time well spent. Four plus hours catching up with friends outdoors, sharing stories, laughs and a history is hard to beat. Long after the scores are tabulated and the cards are tossed, we remember with a knowing smile how much we enjoyed each other’s company.
You see, struggling – whether in golf or any endeavor – is eased when done in the company of others who help us maintain a decent disposition and perspective. We learn, or are reminded of, what is really important.
Maybe that’s why they call the place where this game is played a course.