The Game I Love To Hate

Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun. – Jim Bishop

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I don’t think I have the temperament for golf. The pace of the game is too slow except when it’s your shot. Then everyone else seems to become impatient. Take my annual game at Glen Abbey this past month. I was the guest of my friend, Tom. We were on the fairway of the eleventh hole, not far from each other. To make par, the next shot would have to clear Sixteen Mile Creek which carves the fairway into two parts. The green looked tiny from where we were standing. Tom used a 7-iron and made a perfect shot to the back of the green, just short of a row of tall red maple trees behind the hole. I pull out my 7-iron out of his bag. Tom did warn me “You’re going to be short and land in the water.”

I ignored him. I wanted to make the same perfect shot and sure enough, the ball didn’t carry far enough. It hit the bank on the far side of the creek and bounced back into the murky water. I just stood there staring at the creek with a pained look on my face. If only that damn greedy creek would spit my ball onto the green. Tom tried to console me and patted me on the shoulder. “Just drop your ball on the green.” I ignored him again and dropped a new ball on the fairway, right in front of the creek. I decided to use my 9-iron and chip it over the water. Unfortunately, I swung too hard and the ball sailed past the green. I could hear it make a rustling sound as it passed through the dense group of maple trees and then it disappeared for good. I slammed my club on the ground. It bounced off the spongy turf, pulled out of my hands and landed in the creek. I stared in disbelief at the hideous brown water that had swallowed my $130 custom-fitted club.

My frustration continued. On the thirteenth, I overshoot the green and my ball landed right next to the green on the sixteenth hole. I drove the cart over to the ball and got to make my next shot. I glanced behind me and saw only an empty fairway and blue sky. As I begun my back swing, I heard a thunk as a ball bounces off my cart. I turned around and yelled. “Hey asshole! You’re supposed to yell fore!”

A middle-aged man pulled up in a cart. “I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t see you there. Are you alright?”

“You almost hit me. You probably drive your car as bad as you drive golf balls.” Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said it but I was pissed.

“I beg your pardon? You know you are a jerk.”

The other golfer approached me with an iron in his hand. His face was as red as a rare piece of meat. 

I had to defend myself so I grabbed my oversized driver for protection. “Horseshit. What do you know about being Canadian? My family’s been in Canada for over a hundred years.” Both of us were eyeing the other and waving our clubs in the air.

Fortunately, Tom arrived just in time to prevent a modern version of jousting from breaking out. He pulled us apart and dragged me back to the cart. 

By the eighteenth hole, I was a broken man. The hole was a short par five and I was tempted to try to get on the green in two shots but there was a water hazard the size of a lake in front of the green and large bunkers behind it. As I lined up my second shot, I remembered how in the 2000 Canadian Open, Tiger Woods had made an incredible 218-yard, 6-iron shot from a fairway bunker over the water and onto the back fringe of the green. I sighed. I’m no Tiger. I took aim for the front of the water acknowledging that making par would at least allow me to finish the day with some dignity.

Tom finished the day with a respectable eighty-eight on what is a challenging course. I finished with a score over a hundred, and a bag that was considerably lighter with a 9-iron at the bottom of the creek, a bent driver left at the fourteenth and eleven balls sucked up by the water hazards and the trees.

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