And I can’t tell you why.
It is intensely frustrating, and I am not particularly good at it.
Some call golf “a good walk spoiled,” but there are few places I’d rather be than on a course.
My first memories of golf involve my grandfather. He had stopped playing before I could see him out on the course, but his clubs in the basement of my grandparents’ Philadelphia townhouse, the 1960s-era novelty golf figurines his friends had given him as gifts, and weekends spent together watching Arnie, Jack, Lee Trevino and Chi-Chi remind me of him.
All that led me to ask for the birthday gift in my teens that changed my life — golf clubs and lessons. I made the caveat that my parents had to join me. My dad plays to this day and we try to get out together a few times a year.
My mom was a little different. She did it because her only son asked, and to share something my dad enjoyed. That was the type of person she was, and why we were both pretty lucky guys.
As the years rolled by, some of my best friends picked up the game as well, and though we live in different states, we manage to get together for a few reunions a year to chase the white ball, catch up and swap stories.
One buddy has played St. Andrews and Pebble Beach and so, vicariously, so have I. Once I was able to watch a friend drop a hole-in-one and write about it, even if it was just for a column.
As a journalist, I was never part of the country club crowd, but I have been able to play some beautiful private clubs. I’ve gotten to report on the Senior PGA, LPGA and Mike Schmidt’s celebrity golf tournament. I’ve seen the U.S. Open at Merion and Oakmont and a PGA event at Congressional.
And one thing journalists do get, rather than country club-level pay, is the benefit of favorable hours — at least so far as golf is concerned. Working evenings and into the wee hours of the morning have freed up a lot of daytime hours, ideal for taking the sticks out before heading to the office.
And these days, working in journalism as a contractor, I try to play nine holes every single week. I’ve long been an advocate for playing nine, rather than a full 18. Playing in the early morning hours, I often have the course to myself, and can play nine in just over an hour and be back at my home office with plenty of time for work.
In today’s world, where so much of our work is done tied to a desk, bathed in the false light of a computer screen, an hour on the golf course is therapeutic. Like most sports, the world surrounding golf can seem intimidating, but you don’t have to be rich to play, and you don’t have to hit like Tiger Woods to enjoy the game.
The United States Golf Association’s PLAY9 program, established in 2014, introduces players to the game in an affordable way.