Why is Golf Important?

I shot a 104 on Saturday. It was one of the best rounds I’ve played this year. No, it was not my best score. It was just a really good day. My golf partner was my brother, who I rarely get to play with. The venue, Stow Acres, is one of the toughest courses in Massachusetts. I put two balls into water hazards, one in the woods, and lost the annual “Brother Bowl” by one stroke. It was awesome.

Playing well is more than just scoring well. Golf is a game of class and dignity. We have rules and etiquette and everyone is an equal out there. We’re not actually competing against each other. Every stroke is an attempt to overcome the obstacles of the course itself. Water hazards. Tight fairways. Downhill lies. Bunkers. We faced them all on Saturday. There are shots I’d like back, but I’m glad I took them.

I took a ten on a par-four, but hit a long putt to end the hole. I shanked a drive on the tenth, yet came back with a nice hybrid shot to save par. My front nine was a disastrous 55. I shot a 49 on the back to make my day somewhat respectable. That’s what I love about the game. You can be down, but you’re never truly out. Golf teaches me to always get back up and try again.

Eighteen holes. Five hours. No phones. No emails. Life doesn’t get any better than that. The two guys who rounded out our foursome were laid back and played the game correctly. There was no arguing, vocal criticism, or impatience when one of us struggled, which we all did at one point or another. We each encouraged one another, celebrating together on the good shots, empathizing with the bad.

It’s likely I’ll never see either of those gentlemen again, but they are a part of my personal golf history now. There’s a spirit shared among all true golfers that makes us one. Names don’t matter. Neither does where we come from, our race, our religion, or the color of our skin. It’s the love and respect for the game that unites us. Those who have never played the game could learn a lesson from that.

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