A Bear Of A Handicap

Marathon Man and I were standing on the tenth tee last Friday, talking about how our games had gone downhill. We had both been 6-7 handicaps a year or so ago, and were both now 9-10, with no explanation for what had happened.  It was like we had been possessed by a game-eating demon, and no exorcism program seemed to work.

The problem wasn’t specific to the two of us. I had been first up in the wolf game, and hit a decent drive down the right side on number 1. It’s an “ease into the round” opening hole, a par 5 with a good shot at birdie and a comfortable par. Cowboy Roy matched my drive so I waited for something better to pick. The rest of the group was the Chipping Lizard, Potatoes, and Marathon Man – all good players – and I figured one, if not all, of them would hit a very good drive, especially with the wind at our back. All three hit it out of bounds right. I had to wolf it, hacked it around for a double, and Cowboy Roy limped home to a winning bogey. It was stunningly bad play from all concerned.

All this got me thinking about realistic expectations for this maddening game, and how to enjoy it in the face of disaster. I’ve never been happy with the “I’m never going on the tour so I’m happy to stink at golf” philosophy. It sounds a little too much like “I won’t live forever, nothing makes any difference, so I’ll just have fun,” and nihilism or hedonism has never seemed a good solution to the existential dilemma. There needs to be some intermediate solution, where good play matters but it isn’t all there is.

The University of Chicago, the birthplace of the Chicago School of Economics. It looks like you could get in some practice on that lawn, don’t you think?

Life is better with money, but it isn’t better if you forget why money helps and you just try to pile it up. It also isn’t better if you try to convince yourself money doesn’t matter. Eventually, you’ll run into reality. Life is undeniably more fun with money, when it is wisely spent and kept in it’s proper place.

It’s the same with a golf score. Golf is better with good play, but not if you forget why you really play and you get mad at every bad shot. Golf also isn’t better if you act like you don’t care about your score. Eventually, you’ll tire of hitting it O.B., making snowmen, and picking up while you see others get better. Golf is more fun with good play, but the score is only a part of why we play.

I know I enjoy life a lot more if I don’t track economic indicators, but I can’t totally ignore them. Maybe I need to treat my golf score the same way.

They don’t call economics “the dismal science” for nothing. I don’t want to play “the dismal game,” even if my handicap’s in the midst of a bear market.

(Image via Wikipedia. In the public domain.)

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