Bill Russell was the guest on Feherty a few nights ago and was discussing his golf game. Russell said he used to carry a 6 or 7 handicap but was around a 10 now, and he was having more fun as a 10. He said he quit enjoying the game as much when he was a better player, apparently because he was so concerned about how well he was playing that he lost the fun of just playing.
That got me to comparing the quality of my game to the fun I have. As I’ve said before, my game went dramatically downhill last fall and I went from a 6 to 7 index to an 11. For a long time, my play resembled the left front tire of my truck that you see in the image to the left. At my worst, I had about as much fun hitting the ball as I did trying to keep my truck on the road when that tire blew. I finished each round feeling frustrated and exhausted, wondering what had gone wrong. Every part of my game blew up. In contrast to Bill Russell, I was having a lot less fun as a 10 or 11 than I did as a 6 or 7.
On the other hand, when I was playing poorly I was still having the same amount of fun with my golf buddies as when I was playing well. The jokes and byplay were about the same, although my deterioration added a new option to the array of available insults. (You can’t have a thin skin and play with my group.) I continued to look forward to playing and had a good time (mostly). But I was often simultaneously cursing and laughing.
My game is getting back together after a major rebuilding process and I’m having more fun playing golf again. I was always having fun out on the course with the guys, but I wasn’t having much fun playing golf. When I’m playing well, I have two kinds of fun. When I’m not playing well, golf is the thing I do while I have another kind of fun.
Of course, I never was a world champion at anything like Bill Russell. Maybe the better Russell got, the more he felt that need for championship level play, and he certainly knew he was never going to win a major. I’m not afflicted with memories of greatness.
I just want to keep it on the road with no major explosions.