Why We Play This Game

by Jeff Skinner

Anyone who plays golf regularly realizes what a crazy game it is.  With an unaccommodating spring here, I just recently was able to get out for only my second full round of the season.  Most of the courses here in the Northeast are still growing in and show the signs of a difficult winter.  But the “die-hards” are out there making their way around soggy fairways and scarred greens.  Such was the case yesterday when my brother and I teed off early for our regular weekly game.

The course was wet from another overnight rain and the streams were overflowing into places that aren’t normally under water, but we both were thrilled just to be back on the course together again.  Soon enough the sun was warming us and my game was in mid-season form.  Back were the slices, the skulls, the fatties, the pulls, the hooks and there was even a really good shank thrown in there for good measure.  Yes, my game was back, and I was wondering aloud why I even try and play this exceedingly difficult game.

There were hints of hope tossed about through portions of the morning.  A putt that dropped, a chip in close and maybe a chance at a birdie or two are the things that keep the hope alive, the hope that someday I’ll actually hit the ball where I want it to go.

After I got home I set about reviewing my card as I surfed the web and my favorite golf sites.  Geoff Shackelford is an accomplished writer and author.  His blog on Golfdigest.com, Geoffshackelford.com, is one of the better ones anywhere in the blogosphere.   Each day he posts an interesting quote concerning golf and his posted quote that day seemed to sum up why most of us continue to torture ourselves with this game.

Golf is 20 percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humour, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation. GRANTLAND RICE

That’s why Rice was one of the greatest sportswriters ever. He was able to eloquently describe why golf has this hold over us.  Certainly there is some measure of mechanics and technique required but I would debate if any of my technique was of any real value.  But the rest of his assessment is spot on.  Philosophy: our beliefs and values are on display every time we tee it up.  Humor: if you can’t laugh at yourself on the course, there is no hope for you.  Tragedy: we all have more than our fair share most days.  Romance: there is plenty of love and affection on the links whether you like to admit it or not.  Melodrama: the eternal struggle between “old man par” and all those that try to challenge him.  Companionship: sometimes golf is just an excuse to be with people you love.  Camaraderie: I think Rice would understand the term “bromance” if he were alive today.  Cussedness: oh yes, big time.  Conversation: if you want to get to know someone, play 18 holes with them.  You’ll see every side of them, and also show them yours.

After reading Rice’s quote I once again know why I play, for all those reasons above and maybe a few more.  I’ll stop thinking about trading my clubs for a bowling ball and revel in my time on the course.  The score matters only briefly.  It’s the experience that lasts.  I can’t wait to get back out there.

Thanks to Grantland Rice and his wisdom and a tip of the hat to Geoff Schackelford for keeping us connected to it.





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