I’ve always thought of The Masters as the unofficial start to golf season. The “tradition unlike any other” is full of slightly overweight, middle-aged white guys competing in the sport’s most prestigious tournament, with an ugly green jacket awarded to the victor. Doesn’t that get you pumped?
It seems anticlimactic to hold such a respected major so early, especially when half the country is still in the winter doldrums and most courses remain more brown than green. Though it may make the rest of the PGA Tour schedule seem a little underwhelming, The Masters at least ignites the annual golf passion of wannabes like me.
I shook the dust off my clubs over spring break and, knowing I wanted to write a golf-related column before The Masters, had my angle all ready to go. I was anticipating a round full of shanks and cuss words, then I would write something witty and self-deprecating to get you to laugh and smile.
But that didn’t happen. Looking back, I would now describe my two rounds of golf over break as semi-decent. That’s a total win! Never mind that my first tee shot was a nasty left hook that I failed to recover, or that I blasted one into water a day later, or that I three-putted a handful of times. The rest was great!
Of course, the best parts had nothing to do with my performance. I could have spent all day slicing shots into the woods and missing little gimme putts, but I still would have jumped at the next opportunity to play.
No matter how bad a round may get, all I want to do once it’s finished is play again. No matter how good a round may get, that same response still holds true. Nothing is ever perfect. There’s always one shot that screams for a mulligan, one agonizing miss or tiny error that leaves you wanting more. It’s sport’s most addicting drug.
Trying to explain the allure of golf to someone who has never played is nearly impossible. The sport isn’t exciting, it takes a few hours to play 18 holes and the frustration of missing easy shots can make you physically angry. It can be boring and monotonous as you continually wallop a little white ball toward a tiny cup hundreds of yards away.
Maybe I’m just the odd one out, because it can be hard to find other people my age who enjoy golf as much as I do. Maybe my idea of fun just aligns more with that of a 60-year-old than a 20-year-old (which, I’ve been told repeatedly, it does).
But it’s hard to beat a round of golf with my dad or my friends during the summer. Even if a course is surrounded by bustling city blocks, the calm expanse of green acts as a haven in an urban landscape. It’s a chance for me to enjoy the warm weather while also subsidizing the sunscreen industry.
Though I know my talent level prevents me from playing on much more than a public course or a cheap private one, I’ll still spend as many summer days out there as possible. I’ll revel in the emotional journey of shanking one into the woods followed by a beautiful save on the next shot, going from anger and self-pity to an inflated perception of my own ability.
Once that happens, I start furiously checking my scorecard to see if I can set a personal best. Because even though I golf mainly for fun, it still remains competitive. I’ve got my own version of an ugly green jacket to win.