Golf Passion…and Occasional Stupidity

Where’s the Line of Insanity When It Comes to Finishing the Round No Matter What?

In the golfer’s Book of Legends, stories of extreme passion to the game abound. It’s a badge of courage to love the game you’re playing, and to show that you’re playing this one because you love it more than any other. However, golf can also become a reflection of unresolved adolescent acts that ring of “You poke the hornet’s nest! No, you poke it!” Don’t think for a second that hornets’ nests represent mere metaphors. Grown men (women considerably less often) actually do this sort of thing on the golf course, just because that’s where the ball lies, or because”grown” is a misnomer.

Most of the categories of exceeding the bounds of passion are well known to us. One large one is the “animal act.” I watched a video yesterday of a Swedish golfer under attack by what was described as an elk. Actually, it was a moose calf who started to go ballistic on the golf bag as the golfer nonchalantly looked on. Then, the animal chased him around the tree nine or ten times. I’m not sure what the poor man should have done, but striking a James Bond pose a few feet away probably wasn’t the best choice. We’ve watched people “people play it where it lies” almost on top of alligators. There are black bears just playing through, and taking the flag with them, but these hardy folks keep going. There aren’t too many bear attacks, but isn’t one enough?

Playing in the wind is a particular challenge to the Viking-minded golfer, I’ll confess to that one, the more blustery, the better. One fellow from Wellington, New Zealand, which he claims to be the windiest city in the world, has played in 75 plus mile per hour winds, and loves to tell about it, scorning the 30 mph gusts of others. I’ve stood in a 90 mph wind, but I don’t think I could have lifted a golf club. I was too busy hanging on to things.

Then, there are the other adolescent customs that sometimes sweep through the golf world. A famous meme asks if we would run over our golf partners with the cart for a million dollars – and people are doing it, right and left! Unsuspecting members of foursomes are being smashed into ponds, through the rough, under wheels and up against trees. I want to assure anyone with that on their mind that I would make sure their hospital bills use up all of that money. Blindly obeying the terrain can be fairly dangerous, such as playing a ball from a vertical wall of a wet sand trap. How about hitting from a cactus or a berry patch? How about a field of large rocks, and getting the whimma-whammas for the rest of the day?
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There’s a special place on the walls of the Stupid Golfers Hall of Fame for people who ignore lightning. Most of us know this, but just as a gentle reminder, our numbered irons, wedge through 1 or 2, are transformed into a neat little bundle of lightning rods. Lightning can even occur on a mostly cloudless day, and we are also conductors, sometimes with spiked shoes. The advice, once again, is stay away from lone trees, the cart, the clubs, and each other by fifteen feet. And, with all due respect to Lee Trevino, don’t hold up a one-iron. God can, indeed, hit a one-iron.

Here’s the latest one in my experience. In the last month, British Columbia and the U.S. west coast have experienced literally hundreds of major fires. In Bonneville, Washington, a group of golfers insisted on finishing their round as 37,000 acres of forest blazed right behind them. “But it was a mile and a half away!” they said. This, at a time when firefighters were measuring the blaze by miles per hour, not feet or yards. Get cut off from your car or civilization and see what happens. The obituary will at least read that you played a sizzling round. The course actually congratulated these guys as being extremely passionate about golf, but when they’d had a moment to think about it, there was some back-tracking on the praise. I can almost understand it if one is in the middle of the first sub-par round of one’s life. But still, come back next month, and if the course is still there, start scoring from the hole where you left off. You may be able to salvage that score and your life.
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And so, the madness continues. Deep inside many of us, there is a golf maniac struggling to get out. But when it comes to predators, hurricanes, fires, lightning, and moose, I hope we’ll all try to manage a little restraint – passion, not stupidity.

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