Every Golfer Should Love…
BY DAVID DESMITH
HANDICAPS – Of all the sports we can play, golf is the only one that levels the playing field. Handicaps lead to great debates when the last putt is holed; their accuracy (or lack thereof) is a constant topic for discussion at the 19th hole.
CUT GRASS – I don’t care if it’s bent, rye, kikuyu or zoysia, when you step out of your car to the smell of fresh-cut grass, you’re home. Golf is a game that caters to all the senses (even taste, which is why clubs have dress codes). The smell of mown grass is your reminder that you’re communing with nature – and breathing air that hasn’t been conditioned.
SHORT PAR 4s – They’re golf’s great equalizers, even though they may be nigh over 300 yards. The well-designed short par 4 offers options and requires thought. Birdie is always in the back of your mind, but the risk tends to be high and making bogey or worse is equally possible. Are you man enough to hit iron off the tee?
CADDIES – Every great adventurer, from Ulysses and Aeneas to Candide and Indiana Jones, had a wingman. In golf we call them caddies. Golf is at its best when that caddie speaks English with an accent, be it a Scottish brogue, an Irish lilt, or a Chinese ni hao ma. Having a foreign caddie means that you’re playing in a foreign country – that you’re on a quest yourself.
PUTTERS – If you don’t own at least five putters, then you’re one of two kinds of people. Either you haven’t been playing the game very long, or you’re so good with the flatstick that you don’t need to experiment. Buying a new putter is like being reborn. It’s a cold-hearted player who can resist this temptation for long.
ACCURATE YARDAGE – Tradition is great, but golf is more fun when you’re hitting greens in regulation and occasionally knocking iron shots stiff. Hunting for sprinkler heads is a drag. Guessing based on the location of 150-yard markers is tedious. If you want to play golf without any yardage guides at all – play by good old-fashioned dead reckoning alone – that’s fine. But otherwise, give me a Leupold laser rangefinder any day.
COMPETITION – Ultimately, the results don’t matter a wit, but is there anything in life that makes you more nervous than prom night, your first speeding ticket, a job interview, a letter from the IRS, well, you get the point. While they all tend to work out, you do learn exactly what adrenaline is and the involuntary things it makes you say and do. And pretty much only in golf can players 50 years apart get the same competitive rush.
THE LINKSLAND – It’s not fair, it’s sometimes not pretty, it’s hardly immaculate and the weather, for the most part, sucks. But for anyone with the slightest reverence for the game, it’s love at first sight. Only until you go nine out and nine in, hard by the sea, do you understand that there is an entire other world of golf beyond our shores.