Although golf can be played by people of all ages, most of them are older and retired men. They are men desperate to get out of the house. Their wives have explained to them that they are married for better or worse, but not for lunch. So golf is a natural choice. It’s not too strenuous, takes most of the day, and is a good time for male bonding. When a newly retired guy takes up golf, it’s fun to watch the progression from hacker to serious golfer.
There seems to be an inbred progression in the development of a golfer that follows a rigid pattern. The starting point usually seems to be a man who, if he drinks at all, drinks moderately. His language is normally quite clean, and his disposition is usually nice and polite. At first, though he plays horribly, he enjoys the game. Then one day he hits the perfect shot. The smooth feel, the beautiful flight of the ball, watching it land on the green are indeed special moments.
Now he is hooked, and the personality change is dramatic, and to an outsider, shocking. He has experienced Nirvana, that perfect moment where the whole universe becomes perfect for just an instant. It is now an addiction as severe and debilitating as hard drugs. The problem is that he now expects every shot to be that perfect. If you’ve ever played you know that to have that happen once in every round is exceptionally lucky. So you are left with about 100 ugly shots and maybe, just maybe, one good one. Now, the man who used to be cheerful and fun to play with becomes an ass. He complains bitterly about every shot. All of a sudden the golf course is in terrible shape, the wind is unfair, and the sand in the bunkers is a mess, and on and on.
The standard solution to this problem is new clubs. After a couple of thousand dollars with no noticeable improvement, the new clubs are deemed to be defective. Never in this process is any thought given to taking lessons. Watching golf on TV, and taking advice from golfers who are worse than he is are the standard solutions. Practicing is not a viable solution either. Just grab the clubs and head out on the course, expecting that today is the day that it will all come together. A rational observer could see that no improvement is happening and that another approach is necessary. However, if he were a rational observer, he would not be playing this stupid game in the first place.
The insanity of it all is that every time he heads out to the course, he expects to do better, and every time that doesn’t happen. This can go on for years and he never stops to ask what is wrong with this picture. It is classic addictive behavior and it begins to show in his habits.
The first symptom is language. It deteriorates. A formerly polite man turns to the foulest words in the English language. The swearing permeates every sentence. This is not just casual cursing. This is violent swearing. The kind that embarrasses even sailors. “Whoa, where did that come from?” is the stunned response of old friends. The second symptom is drinking. I’m a good example of that.
For 27 years I didn’t have a single drink of any kind of alcohol. I retired, took up golf, and started drinking. I don’t think that humans are capable of tolerating the stress of golf without drinking, at a minimum after the round, and on some days, even during the round. This, of course, does nothing to improve the quality of the game, and just increases the frustration level. But nothing rational is occurring here. There is just something about the game that disables any logical thinking parts of the brain.
So now we have a golfer. A foul mouthed, drunk, who still believes that the next time he plays it will be better. And it never is.