Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hobbies – Part the First

Golf is a good walk spoiled. ~Mark Twain

I've had a variety of hobbies over the years. Currently, I have two. One is blogging (which is kind of a pathetic excuse for a hobby). The other is converting my large collection of vinyl records to CD's a) before my record player dies, b) before I die, and c) before the RIAA bribes Congress into making it illegal to even hum a song without paying a royalty.

Oh, there's the computer stuff, but that's my job, and one's job should never be one's hobby. One couldn't tell whether one was working or relaxing.

One of the things I used to do was play golf. For twenty freaking years, I played golf. That's twenty years that I could have spent getting semi-annual root canals, taming tarantulas, walking on hot coals, or some other more relaxing activity. Why, you ask, did I keep playing the game? You didn't ask? Listen, it's my blog, and I'll decide who's asking things around here.

It was my father's fault.

Golf was our father-son activity. We couldn't do car maintenance because of our mechanical deficiencies I have described in an earlier piece. Getting injured together is not a good shared activity. We couldn't share my athletic experiences because I was a complete lox in any sport, which I'm sure depressed Dad who had been a pretty fair soccer player in his youth. He was also a dirty soccer player, but that's another story. But golf was another matter.

He took up the game because it was a way to make business contacts. All businessmen play golf; my dad wanted to be a businessman. Therefore, he played golf. And he was lousy. So, I'm sure he figured that even if I was as lousy as him, we'd have fun because we'd be wandering through the woods together looking for our tee shots.

Well, he was right about the woods.

To be fair, I did enjoy the time with Dad. Eventually, the game became a habit. Then I went to work, and everyone at work played golf, so to be sociable, I played golf. Fortunately, there was always someone in the group as bad as I was (there was almost no one who was worse), so I didn't feel like a total fool.

The problem with golf is that failure is always imminent. If I hit a beautiful tee shot, the next one was shanked into the woods. If I got to the green in good order, my putt would fly past the hole and roll into a sand trap. In golf terms, par is the number of strokes it should take you to successfully complete the hole. A birdie is one stroke less than par, which is good. A bogey is one stroke more than par, which isn't bad. Two over par is a double-bogey, which isn't good. Five over par is a reason to give up the game. I had a lot of reasons to give up the game.

I did have one great moment in my golf career. A friend and I were out one Saturday and decided to make our round interesting by playing for big stakes: Ten cents a hole. After 8 holes, I was 70 cents down, which was about right for me. As I was watching Larry take his practice swings on the ninth hole, I noticed that he had a distinct pause in his swing. I swear that it was in all innocence that I asked him, “How long have you had that funny hitch in your swing?”

I ended up a dime up on the round. And Larry didn't say a word to me over the last three holes. Or for two weeks afterwards, either.

Hey, golf ain't for sissies, you know?

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