I’ve never decided which type of round of golf I enjoy the most. Much of my golf is played with my regular group and the chatter often reminds me of hilarious rounds at Ponkaquogue Municipal Golf Links and Deli with Cementhead, Thud, and Chunkin’ Charlie. If you don’t know the crew at Ponky, I highly recommend Missing Links by Rick Reilly to you. After that you can go on to Shanks For Nothing.
I typically play with The Chipping Lizard, Gallon, and The Cowboys, and the golf itself is frequently only a part of the fun. Instead, golf is the stage for running gags, good-natured ridicule, and side bets. These rounds are often the most fun I have in any given week.
Today I had a different type of round. Most of the regulars couldn’t make it and one of The Cowboys and I were paired with two other guys in the tournament. We all knew each other and got along well, but the conversation was much more sedate and there were no side bets. Golf took center stage and I really enjoyed myself, albeit in a totally different way.
I shoot about the same score in both types of rounds. Today I turned an easy 76 or 77 into an 80 with a few stupid shots and a three putt from two feet on one pin placement that needed a windmill and clown’s mouth for truth in advertising. That’s consistent with my average for the last few months.
When I think back over my years of golf, I remember two categories of things. First, I remember my playing partners. They form a rogue’s gallery of my best friends over the years. Second, I remember the feel of a golf course when everything is right. It’s a Zen-like feel when I’m absorbed by the golf and the course. When that well struck shot rises against the darkening evening sky I can be the only person on earth, and that’s fine.
What I don’t remember for long are my scores. I suspect that’s a good thing, because my score probably won’t be what keeps me playing golf when I’m that 90 year old shuffling across the green. (Don’t worry – I’ll wear spikeless shoes.)
I wonder what type of rounds other people prefer. If you could have your choice between a game with a group you love to kid around with or a round where you are really into your own game and the course, which would it be?
I hope I’ll keep playing, and loving, both.