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GOLF 303
By George Schissler
George Schissler

Golf.  What is about the game that keeps us coming back for more?

Is it the enjoyment of the out-of-doors, the companionship of fellow golfers, the competition, the challenge, or the hope of attaining success in performing better than the previous time?  Or, is it the pure joy of playing the game in the hope of finally posting a respectable score? 

Maybe what really keeps us coming back is that we shoot a number close to par and foolishly entertain the thought that we now see the light at the end of the tunnel; then to be hit by the train the following day.  We did well on Tuesday, but suffered discouragement big time on Wednesday.

So much for the challenge, competition and success on the golf course.  You no longer enjoy the scenic hole locations, the clear blue skies the chirping of the birds and the constant well intentioned advice from golf partners who had recently asked for your help in improving their game. Let them solve their own problems.   You have troubles of your own.

After playing the game for almost 50 years I have finally achieved a goal I set for myself way back then. The goal was to be consistent. It has taken me all these years to attain consistency.  I also take solace in the fact that millions of players my age must have reached that point.  I can now count on being consistently inconsistent.   

I can almost predict what my total score for a round will be merely by adding a dozen strokes to what it once was, but I still cannot predict on when or which hole that number may pop up.  (Hopefully, it will be somewhere on the back nine). But there is still hope. If I live and play long enough I might be able to shoot my age. That would be nice, but I do not think that life expectancy will be extended long enough to accommodate me.

But I do have something else going for me—the revolutionary new equipment such as hybrid clubs.  I live in a southern state which has plenty of sunshine (not to mention moonshine) and when you mention hybrid you are talking about mules and not golf clubs.  Another improvement is the technologically designed oversized drivers.  Between only $400 and $700 you can purchase a club which (for me) guarantees 200 yard drives--I remember when that used to be a 4 iron--but it does not come with a guarantee of keeping the ball in the fairway.  I know that I am growing old when the purchase of a couple of “first line” clubs cost as much as my first car—a brand new 1955 Mercury Montclair—which came with a guarantee that you could drive it straight.

In golf the rules generally do not change.  They've been the same for decades, but I know for a fact that the courses do change.  They are more beautiful, but it is also true that they are getting longer.  I know this to be true because my home course gets longer every year.  The tees and the greens are still in the same places but they must have added yardage somewhere in between.  What used to be a drive and a mid iron is now a drive and a fairway wood.   Pretty soon I’ll be back trying to hit the ball into the clown’s mouth, through the tunnel and into the hole in an attempt to fill my card out with a good score.

One good thing going for me is that everyone in my group is in the same age bracket, therefore in the same boat. We all play to pretty much identical handicaps (that’s numerical not physical), even though the physical conditions cover a great and varied array of maladies. Everything from arthritis to weak bladders seems every bit as challenging as the game itself. Pit stops make the length of time it takes to play a round a bit longer. We cannot remember what we ate for breakfast (we usually stop for breakfast at McDonald’s, eat and visit the restroom before heading to the course), but we can quickly recall that great shot or low score (hole by hole) we experienced 20-30 years ago. Of course we have not known each other that long--as we play the ball on the course there are also no bad lies recounting the stories.

We also play the game to get in our exercise. This  require us to get out of our carts, walk from the cart path to the tee with our drivers and back to the cart and  do it again to and from the  green carrying our putters--which still do not work the way they used to.  I can still remember that 30 foot (or was it a 40 foot) birdie I made to tie for the club championship on the 18th hole in the C Flight back in 1972, but  then lost the championship and a spot in the winners circle by missing a 3 footer on the first playoff hole. Not much has changed in that respect.  I still feel more comfortable standing over a 20-30 footer because no one expects me to make it but I tremble when faced with a knee-knocking 4-5 foot attempt.

The game of golf is a great game, but it is also one of the greatest teachers in that it demands truthfulness, patience and perseverance.  If nothing else the game should make all players appreciative of the fact they are still healthy and able to participate in such an activity.

Somewhere along the line between when we first began playing and today many of us have forgotten that golf is still only a game. We take the sport too seriously.  Golf was meant to be relaxing and fun. So the next time you play and things do not go just as you wish remind yourself how fortunate you are to be healthy enough to be on the course, taking any number of swings, enjoying friendly competition, telling a few tall tales and listening to many more that golf is played for relaxation. Have fun and if things do not go your way remember why they named the sport G O L F—because all the other four lettered words were already taken.

Go out tomorrow and have a great day.  Right now I have to concentrate on a downhill, side hill four foot putt.

GOLF TIP:  If you want to improve your game it has been suggested that you play with someone better than yourself.  So far it hasn't worked for me because everyone I play with is better—every day.  And they are easy to find.



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