Golf. Never before has a little, four-letter word betrayed such an enormous, black-hole-like time sucking endeavor as is golf.
I admit I once set aside my deep belief that elitist golf was a symbol of everything wrong with capitalism, free time, patriarchy and sportswear when, during a sportswriting trip to The Masters, I secretly but with some anguish admired the course at Augusta National, where every flower petal on the azaleas and every blade of grass on the putting greens look as if they were hand-placed there, like sesame seeds on the bun in a McDonald's commercial.
I admit I may have once rooted for Phil to win a major, or Tiger to make a comeback. But to play golf? Over and over and over again? I understand the first, heady tug of the allure, but then what?
In 1996, as part of the Seattle sportswriting contingent covering the Seattle Sonics in the NBA playoffs, I got an invite from some of the guys to go play golf. It was an off day between NBA games and the fellas had snagged a tee time at some big, fancy course in Houston. Having played golf maybe once before in my life -- a duffer's delight party prior to my brother's wedding in Peoria, Illinois -- I was truly the odd man out, mostly because I was the only woman and a truly novice golfer among a gaggle of guys who, while all possessing great humor and sense of adventure, really liked to play and were pretty good at it. But they asked me to come along, so I went.
I borrowed shoes an clubs from the pro shop, and laid it bare for the three guys in the foursome that I was more than prepared to pick up my ball and just ride along, once my truly horrific skills were on record. They nodded and proceeded to send me out to tee off first, since they were letting me use the forward tee box (ladies) while they waited in back. I took a practice swing or 8, and finally got my ball to stop teetering on the little head of the wood tee. I stood straight up, set my hips, let loose a good, high backswing and let 'er rip.
And what happened at that moment is the stuff of how delusions of golfing grandeur strike. It was instantaneous -- an almost otherworldly and out-of-body experience in which, for that instance, you get the feeling you have just achieved greatness and it's the kind of greatness that never, ever leaves you. My followthrough with the driver was a huge, loping arc; the kind of swing you'd see on the LPGA. It felt perfect, and from behind me, I could hear the guys let loose a few words of commendation. My ball was still lifting, lifting into the blue, Texas sky. It was the flight of a Golf Channel fairway drive. Time stood still. The white ball remained in orbit for what seemed like hours, days. In my mind, it's still flying right now, only that is not the reality of things, because, as my three sportswriting companions as my witnesses, my drive landed about 220 feet away. Like, right in the middle of the fairway. With a soft little bounce and roll before it stopped, shining there as if it was the moon. The biggest shot of my life. Bigger and longer than anything the fellas hit off that first tee, a feat for which they congratulated me and called me a sandbagger and generally made good sport of it ....
Until I tried to take the 5-iron to the approach shot on this par 4 hole. At which point the head of the club drilled itself into the grass, producing a leaden spray of dirt, topped with a tuft of private golf course fairway grass. The ball, I recall, may have gone backwards, or sliced severely about 7 feet, toward a sand trap.
What's the point of this story? The point is: I realized that the soaring sense of self-worth that came with the grand drive off the first tee was a false flag. It was a ruse. It was an aberration. I really sucked at golf. And I hated myself and the game for it. I knew I could find myriad other ways to kill four hours without having to put myself or anyone else through such a dispiriting and spirit-breaking task ever again. It made me fast realize:
Golf is a pursuit in which the pursuant -- in order to keep pursuing golf -- must have the following characteristics: 1) Too much time 2) Too much money 3) Too much self-esteem 4) A desire to escape reality for eternally long stretches of time 5) A willingness to stand around aimlessly for hours while other people try and impress them or not embarrass themselves 6) Have mastered the art of getting away with murder because how else do they account for being at the golf course for hours and hours during THE DAY and ...
I could go on, but I'll stop. Which is exactly what I wish Donald Trump would do.
I want him to stop being president, but since that won't happen until Bobby Mueller finishes the Big Dig of Russia et al, I just wish Trump would stop playing golf.
Likewise, I wish Obama had not played so much golf, even if Trump has played more golf in 7 months as *president than Obama did in the eight (short) years he was president. I wish that even this very week, we did not have to see pictures of Obama playing golf on Martha's Vineyard.
A president playing golf has come to represent not just a president playing golf, but a pissing match about who plays more golf? Who does more work? Who takes more vacations? Who is a bigger jerk? More divisive? More stupid or idiotic or weak or sad?
If we are lucky enough to get another presidential election, let alone another American president, I think part of my decision on who gets my vote will be based on whether or not the candidate does not play golf.
Golf is a private matter. It is an affliction as much as it is a pastime. Those who have the time or patience or cash to pursue it with the vigor that these past presidents have done so ... they are a little suspect in my book. In fact, why can't Trump just read a book? I know where he can find a good four hours. Then again, in his case, golf does keep him from starting WWIII. Or at least delay it.
I used to write politics, news and sports for newspapers in cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. Now I take a lot of Instagram photos, check Facebook, swim, read about T$$$p and cook dinner for people I really like. New York native, living in Port Washington and Greenfield Center (that's near Saratoga Springs FYI).