Monday, April 21, 2014

Loving The End Days Of Golf

Oh Noes, Not That
So there was a story in the NY Times last weekend about how people are taking steps, including but not limited to just ditching the rules and making Frisbee sized holes that make putting and chipping an anything goes experience. The reason why this might happen is because the demographic playing the game is graying strongly, and the young'uns just aren't playing the game. So if something isn't done, and done fast, it will all go sideways.

Now, I play. Badly, pretty much a 30 handicap, with a desperate need for lessons and all of the failings of the hack golfer. Inconsistent yardage, poor striking consistency, erratic wedge work, emotional instability that makes the game harder than it should be, etc., etc. I didn't play for a good 10-plus years after my kids were born, mostly because kids just require that much freaking work and money, and when I lived in California and the cost of a round was always 2X more than what I thought it should be, and I'm pretty cheap. But in the past couple of years, now that I'm back on the East Coast where mediocre golf courses are prevalent and not cost-prohibitive, I get out.

And you know what's awesome, when you are playing golf? Not having other golfers on the course.

Other golfers make you wait, or hit up on you. Other golfers make you hurry your shot after you've already hit a crappy one, and maybe aid and abet your round being more expensive from the lost ball kick in the pants that happens when you hook or slice your ball into Parts Unknown. Other golfers keep the cart girl occupied and are in the fairway you wind up using, which is to say, the one you are not supposed to be playing. If there were no other golfers, and Mr. Ranger is also so Not Busy as to just go the hell home early in the day, you can just keep playing after 18 holes are up for fun and for free, because, um, who the hell cares and it's scramble golf bonus time. Some of the best times I've ever had on a golf course have occurred when the sun was setting, no one's around, and I'm just tired / loose, knowing that I've dragged every good moment of the day out of a course.

None of that happens on a crowded and prosperous course. Nor does the post 3pm discount, the emailed coupons to get you to come back, the free balls at the driving range or the ranger not giving you grief for maybe driving the cart at something other than 90-degree angles.

The best golfing run I ever had was in the fall of 1999, when a job in Oregon didn't work out the way I was expecting, and I found myself with an untold amount of free time in a part of the world with 5-star golf courses, and not enough people to play on them. I'd go out for peanuts as the rest of the world spent the day hunting, play 36 holes, and even got borderline good, with rounds in the mid '90s and best-of-life iron play.

So, if golf is going through a tough time, and might not survive for my kids to not play it?

Well, don't expect the world's current golfers to shed too many tears over it. There's a lot of play in the end game... and in the long run, we're all going to wind up hitting into a green screen as soon as someone gets the technology down just right anyway. Because when I hit into the green screen, I don't ever have to worry about Other Golfers...

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