Violence – It’s a Natural

Violence On The Golf Course Increasing

Etiquette Only Scratches the Surface

The list of behaviors required in golf is so well known to us all that it almost sounds cliched. We had every one of them drummed into our heads as kids during our junior membership years, but we got mad anyway, just the same as when we were later taught the rules of the road, the sobriety of chess competition, getting the part in the school play, or coming out on top in a beauty pageant. It didn’t matter – we still got mad, and took it out on putters, tree limbs, and grass, and each other. The etiquette of golf is not an eroded case of what we really are, but rather n artifician albeit noble attempt to curb what we are, to protect us from ourselves.. That was sorely needed, because when all is said and done, an angry person holding a golf club is potentially holding  weapon as well. Violence has been part of human existence from the get-go, and the bonds of etiquette that once held most of us in check have been caught up in the revolution against political correctness and stoicism. If the world decides to be overtly self-expressed in everything else, golf is not going to survive as an exception.

rage 2Violence on the course is not new, but it is increasing. Just as it on the roadway, a mistake is interpreted as a personal offense. It defies logic, as everyone knows how hard it is to hit a golf ball well on a consistent basis. We should be in empathy with each other, but instead, it’s “you hit MY cart with that ball,” “you picked up MY ball,” and “you walked on MY line.” And, worst of all, “your slow play wasted MY time – you took up minutes of my life without permission.”
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There are reports of stabbings and clubbings on the golf course because of slow play, incuding a recent “slow play” attack in Utah with a weapon that shouldn’t have been there. Slow play often means the man or woman in front of you doesn’t play well enough to stay out of your hair. Either that, or the ones ahead of them don’t. We often forget the time when we played that way. Slow play has expanded in the brain as a personal affront, one on one, and depending on where one sits on the macho index, the crime is answered far more often than it once was. It can be exacerbated by a bad shot, a ruined overall score from a four-putt on the last hole, or an appointment that requires a surprise-free round to meet in time. We have spent a fortune preparing for the shot, and nothing on the way in which we view the aftermath. The game has been sped up so that we won’t lose interest, and as a result, we are losing our Zen, one of the reasons we played in the first place.

Maybe it isn’t just golf that is so aggravating to those who can’t get into its meditative qualities. Maybe it comes down to conflicts off the course that erupt when we invite the antagonist to play a round with us. Regardless, our perspective is lost when a golf shot or slow play becomes a physical attack. I’m all for continuing to teach the points of etiquette to children, but we should go beyond that. Some good conversations on why we like the game so much, and how helpful it is to good emotional health might be in order. Until we discover some magical solution, violence will always be with us, but the true underpinnings of emotional discipline can be explained, and required. This is our time to get together an relax – why bring an anxious and angry world with us?
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