Because I’m a blogger and not necessarily a “journalist” I’m giving myself the artistic permission to contradict myself. Two posts ago I wrote about the great people I’ve met through this blog, and also said that what keeps me in golf is the great friends I enjoy the game with. The power of those friendships is stronger than my frustration with not getting better. But what if I got worse?
While chopping cucumbers for last night’s dinner a thought popped into my cranium. I thought it a high possibility that I would quit the game if I could not play at a certain level. That level is either where I am now, or perhaps just a little better. If I were to fall to a higher handicap, I doubt I’d be excited about playing. I would not be enjoying the feel of those great shots, at least not as often. I liken it to my old days of being a high roller in Vegas. I used to play $25 minimum blackjack, with some of my bets exceeding $1000 on one hand. The thrill and adrenaline at that level is crazy. Going back down to say a $5 or $2 bet is downright boring and not exciting at all. Playing scratch is like playing those big and exciting bets in Vegas. Playing to a 12 handicap would be like the $2 bet, not thrilling and no excitement. I might even say it would feel like a waste of time.
As it sits now I’m golfing three times per week, with a short practice session before each round. Through the course of the summer I’ve managed to knock my handicap down from the spring blowup 5.7 to a 2.8. I’ve hovered around a 2 for many years. I shoot about half my rounds in the low 70’s and few times per year might break into the 60’s. The other 45% is the “other” category, where the scores are higher and do not count against the handicap.
Statistically I’m an above average amateur golfer. Like most, I want to improve my game and I try to get better. I doubt I can improve very much though, because I’m not on the course enough or logging enough practice time to make a difference. When I was a scratch player years ago I was playing five times per week, or even more.
I realize that every golfer who plays long enough will face the reality that their abilities will decrease with age. I’m not old enough to use that as an excuse, yet. I have a family, a day job, night job, do web programming on the side, and have taken up a new hobby which I hope to turn into a business (unmanned aerial vehicles for photography/videography). All of those demand quite a bit of time. If I’m on the golf course feeling like I’m wasting time I could spend doing those other things, that’s not good. I’m afraid that’s what playing a lower level of golf would be to me. Even now I’m frustrated with golf’s “time” factor.
Tiger Woods has said that he will quit playing golf when he feels like he can’t win or is not competitive. No Champions Tour for him. I totally understand that and feel the same way with my own game, albeit a much lower level than his. I’m very competitive and hold myself to high standards with regards to the quality of my play. I’m not sure I can enjoy golfing while hitting poor quality shots or shooting bad scores. Many tell me to forget the numbers and enjoy being in the outdoors with friends. I totally get that. But I can enjoy the outdoors by taking a hike or visiting the mountains, all without the frustration of a crappy short game, having to hit out of someone else’s divot, five hour rounds, or choking away a great score. Add the considerable expense of playing golf to the mix too.
I think I just figured out why the game of golf and the golf industry is struggling.