Crooked Sticks and Windshear. (or, Polo sans Horse.)
Golf is either the most wonderful or the most demented sport ever invented. I can’t over-estimate how difficult it is to successfully play the game. Well, play the game may be too strong a word. Make no mistakes about it: golf is work.
That’s probably why my grandfather–who golfs three times a week–doesn’t consider himself ‘retired.’ He’ll tell people “I work three times a week–I play golf on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.” He’s right. “Work” in the traditional sense involves for most people sitting at a desk, performing tasks. Or perhaps it is walking from desk-to-desk, delivering, helping, or otherwise fixing things. For an elite group, it involves flying from place to place–sitting on a plane. But then there is golf.
Golf seems so nice and leisurely. You walk up to a mundane little ball, hit it with what looks like a mini-polo stick, and then get in the cart. Watch it on TV and you’d wonder why these guys are so unsure about raising their hands. Why do they even break a sweat?
But look at the *courses*.
Those are trees. Hills, rivers, rocky rock beds, woods, desert.
And right at the end, the ‘Green’.
Green, as in pastoral. Calm. Sweet. Right there. Flat. The green green grass of home, the green of the payout.
The green of envy when you’re ball misses it, short by twenty yards.
The green with sickness as the perfect shot doesn’t ‘bite’ and bounces twenty yards past the ‘green’. Yes the green. Complete with a little hole.
Now we’ll digress here for a minute. Golf is a sport definitely invented by a man. After all, we are to use our ‘club’ to get our ‘ball’ (which is ironically white), into the ‘hole.’ Eighteen times. But like sex, men rarely get the ball in the hole eighteen times in a row without the help of alcohol. Thus the ‘club house.’ Ah, the Mt. Olympus of the Course. Set back, right at the first tee, the 9th Green, and 18th green. Now ask yourself this: how butch is a sport where you are expected to take a break *before* you play, during your play, and *after* your play?
The little hole. That thing that is guarded by a placid pond and a desert. Barren. Dry. Unpromising and unforgiving. And then, just when you think it’s falling apart, that the world has tilted off its axis and that your entire existence is going to end, you hit it…the perfect shot. Straight, not too long and not to short, right at the pin. You know that this is it. You raise your arms, unashamed in your glory to show your sweat-stained shirt. The ball soars higher, then it archs, and the descent begins. Still on line. Your heart has stopped and you know that, in that one perfect second before the ball lands, the entire universe is aligned in your favor.
And then the ball lands…on the divot left by the dick who walked onto the course from his back yard…and bounces. Hard. Left. And into the water.