Originally posted on “Is It Sports?” by Ryan. I think this might be the last post on golf too…
Here’s an interesting little statistic. We’ve been operating this site since January, a sports site, and this sentence is the first mention of Tiger Woods. Really. Use the search engine and see for yourself. But I didn’t want to use the Tiger just for the sake of saying Tiger. After the first round of golf of the year, played with my father, whom we shall call “Dad” and my brother, whom we shall call “Kyle”, I am unduly impressed that someone could make a career out of a ridiculous game such as this, much less consistently dominate. My round, which ended up in the low 140s, was a testament to the game’s absurd popularity.
Every time I take a practice swing, more knowledgeable persons, such as Dad or other members of a well-versed foursome comment on my excellent form. Then I promptly do one of the following things: a) hit the ball of the heel of my club, into the woods b) Find the nearest pond and put it in there c) top the ball and roll it to the women’s tees, or d) launch it about 200 yards landing in the middle of the fairway. On the adjacent (probably to the right) hole. It got to the point where I preferred hitting out of the rough, because when I was in the fairway, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. The grass was just too darn short.
The other particularly frustrating thing, aside from looking good but playing bad (think Anna Kournikova playing tennis), was the short game. It was always an adventure when I pulled out the pitching wedge. Would I launch it over the green? Would I bump it a mere two feet forward, and not yet to the green? Or would I mercifully hit it on the green and have it roll across to the fringe where I could take out the putter, finally? To say my chipping skills are inadequate is a wild, dangerous understatement.
Now, I have a history of being quite the geographer, having been to two state Geography Bees in middle school, and being well known as the walking atlas of St. Hubert’s School in Chanhassen, Minnesota. This made it more painful when my exemplary spatial skills still would not allow me to successfully read a green’s topography. The phrase of the day was “Ryan four-putted.”
Making matters worse was the weather. It was cold. It was raining. It had clearly been raining for some time, as mud permeated everything. Also, we went on a day where they were aerating the greens and topping them with sand, so while the wet greens suggested a slow roll, they were actually moving quite quickly and accumulating an inch of wet sand every putt. And keep in mind, there were four every hole for me. If I had decided to only putt for the day, I would have shot an even par, but instead I decided to play the whole course.
So why do we play this game? Why do we pay people to play this game? These soggy hills in Belle Plaine could have just as easily been used to grow wheat and feed another Nicaraguan village, and I would have stayed warm, clean and mostly unaggravated. I think it has something to do with the human ego. The margin for error in golf is very small. We play the game because any shot could be the shot of our life, any hole can be the hole of our life, and every round has the potential to be some of the best four hours of our lives. We pay people to play the game because we want to see someone succeed at the game, and a small part of us wants to see the professional do something we could do at Deer Run Country Club.
Make no mistake about it, there is something to be said for the game, even for me. I only go when I’m with Dad and Kyle, and it’s a chance to gauge how grown up we’ve become, or how childish we remain. It’s something I can usually say I’m better than Kyle at, on most days, and something Dad still has over us. It’s a chance to spend some time outdoors, though today was one I would have rather spent indoors. It’s something we can always get better at.
I’m beginning to think though, that Tiger has it all figured out. Even though he’s the best golfer in the world, he’s not a perfect golfer. The answer Tiger Woods has given me? Well, I’m now in the market for a Swedish supermodel. – Ryan