I got to the end of The Game Before The Game a few days ago. It’s a book by Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson about golf practice strategies, and it ends by claiming that knowing what you love about golf is crucial in maximizing your performance. If you don’t know why you love to play, you can’t play at your best.
That set me to wondering why I like the game so much, and I still don’t have what feels like a really good answer. But then I was watching the Golf Channel during yesterday’s wind delay at the Humana Challenge. They showed excerpts from their interviews with Bill Clinton and the announcers chatted about a variety of topics while they waited for Slugger White to cancel play for the day. As fate would have it, one of the topics was why why they liked golf.
One of the suggestions was that it was a lot like life. We’ve all heard that, and I guess there’s some truth to it. Golf and life are both full of undeserved good and bad breaks, you need to deal with the situation as you find it in both, you have to develop a plan and routine for all eventualities, etc., etc.
But I have trouble seeing golf being like life as the reason I love golf. I get plenty of real life in real life without going out and searching for more. If I want bad breaks I don’t have to go pay greens fees to get them. They show up at my door for free.
Another suggestion was the handicap system in golf, and how it allows anyone to compete against anyone else. I like the way the system makes competition possible, but I can’t see it as why I love the game. It also seems to contradict the “it’s like real life” reason. If I need surgery I don’t want my surgeon thinking he can make a bogey on me and it’ll be good enough because he gets a pop on cases as tough as me. I want a scratch surgeon, maybe even one with a plus handicap.
Anyway, I think Marriott and Nilsson may be right about needing to identify why I love golf. I just need to give it some more thought.