Addiction Or Just Good Clean Fun?
The 2015 Masters is over, and as usual, it was a heart-thumping event – that is, if you’re into that sort of thing. I am, but I often wonder, when meeting people who just don’t see the attraction in golf, what it is that’s missing. What aren’t they getting – what isn’t tickling the same primeval urge as it does with the rest of us? Can golf really be an addiction?
I suppose that anything can be an addiction, if we feel powerless to resist it, and crave it to our detriment. But frankly, I’ve never pushed golf that far. I’ve played thirty-six holes in a day, and gone out to do it again for the next three, but I still can’t identify the way in which it injured me, outside of some sore feet. If that’s an addiction, big deal.
What does the non-addict fail to feel? Is it the morning air that can’t be duplicated at any other hour of the day, or in any other location? Is it pulling into the parking lot, or walking to the first tee with the sense that absolutely anything is possible today? Is it being with friends, knowing that no matter how badly you play, they’ll probably still be your friends by the afternoon? Do they fail to grasp the beauty of movement as you draw a club back, imagining that your swing resembles that of Ben Hogan, when it’s just as likely similar to that of Charles Barkely? Is it the buffet of smells on the course, most of them pleasant? Is it the visual of a beautifully curving drive, or one that rockets out about a hundred yards, then suddenly rises? And the actual sensation in your hands and arms when the ball is struck perfectly? It’s winning the lottery, falling in love with “I Dream of Jeanie” and winning the Open, all at once. So what’s wrong with everyone? Is our precious and total rejection of reality an addiction, or is it just good practice for the imagination, the very thing they used to tell us was so healthy when we were children?
There are lists on the internet that neatly separate the addict from the non-addict. The ones I noticed right away were having the clubs in the car at all times, “just in case,” and being willing to play in Arctic or monsoon weather. Few who have played the game a lot seem to be in the middle on such a question, but the degree of one’s devotion, healthy or otherwise, can be seen when you sit down to watch a tournament, such as the Masters. The adrenalin starts to rush before the players ever get there. When Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player hit their ceremonial shots, still better than yours, you are transported to a magical land in the distant past, reminiscent of Barrie’s Peter Pan. The other person or persons in your living room ask, “Who are those old guys, and why are they doing that?” Makes you want to cry, just cry. You wish that they could share your addiction, but it’s useless.
Then comes the next wave of youth. As the eras have slipped away, you search for someone through which to live vicariously, pretending that you know them. We have an abundance of riches in that department, with Lydia Ko and Jordan Spieth cleaning out the place on a regular basis. Wonderful – I spent the first half of my life addicted to them, and I’ll spend the last half addicted to you, and you’ll be with me every time I swing a club.
I’m not blind to the world, one in which all manner of self-destruction is available. Golf, however, just doesn’t light my “personality adjustment” fire. I don’t want to be cured. Walter Mitty is alive and well on the golf course, and this is just one addiction that shouldn’t be managed.