Sunday, June 12, 2011

"S_ _ _ Happens"

There are a variety of reasons that I enjoy my Saturday golf game with my almost 60 year old's version of a posse: it keeps me in weekly contact with people who might otherwise fade from sight; it gets me out in the fresh air and away from the computer and it allows me the chance to show off whatever remaining skills linger on the fringes of my game.

The one thing that our version of this sport does not do, at least unless we voluntarily subject ourselves to it, is put our aging twitching muscles to ultimate scrutiny. I become distressed and discouraged even contemplating standing over a 2 foot putt. For me, the most important words in my weekend game may well be "that's good".

The "gimme" is our concession that we no longer possess (if we ever did) the control over our reflexes to steady our stroke and our nerve and hit those teeniest of putts into a hole that appears to be moving as we stand over our ball. I hear my friends (and myself) pleadingly ask whether the short journey to hell they are about to embark upon can be "conceded". I well know that if I draw the wrong line in the sand (more precisely, on the green), my next request will likely meet a similar horrible fate.

Golfers of our diminished skill level think of all kinds of clever fictions to avoid the reality of their shortcomings. We decide that anything "inside the leather" is good; that "you already made double bogey" and thus some fictional ceiling on a score has been reached; or, the worst of them all, "that I can't allow you to four putt a green". There are as many rationales for not allowing the indignity of missing an 18 incher, as there are golfers in this modified universe.

Sometimes we even come up with the creative "good,good" which means if you give me that 4 foot, big breaking putt, then you can pick up your similar disaster before it happens. There is never a short putt that didn't stir the creative capacity of the mind to maneuver around.

Yesterday I played well, at least within the confines of my game. Most of the shots were within reasonable distance of the intended target and the ball with which I began the round was never in serious jeopardy of becoming an offering to the golfing gods. There were however a host of 4 to 6 foot putts that came to rest far from their desired resting place. Thus, as always, it was a round that "could have been" instead of that "was".

I recently wrote a piece criticizing the Polara ball for threatening to take away the skill level that separates good from better. I suggested that it is only with the knowledge that one has truly accomplished something on his or her own merit, that the full depth of joy can be attained.Yet, as I think about all the 2 and 3 foot putts I have not taken, and wonder what golf would be like if they made the hole just that little bit larger, I must admit that I am a golfing fraud. I demand excellence in those parts of the sport where I have a chance to excel, but take every opportunity to bend and break the rules when excellence is beyond my reach.

There are well known jokes that all start with the premise that golf is a 4 letter word and that it was not called some other, more descriptive term of the same length only because those other words were already taken. This Saturday I told my friends that what we were playing should merely be called "S--- happens". If we were forced to try to make all those "gimmes" that we gratefully reach down and put in our pockets, the name would be immeasurably worse.

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