Getting More Serious About Golf Has Been One of the Great Pleasures in My Life
“Find a good teacher that will keep the game fun. Work hard and don’t be afraid to have success or disappointment. That is what golf is all about.” – Paula Creamer
I love golf, but like many things in life, my passion for the sport did not develop in a linear way. When I was growing-up in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the best ways to make a good amount of money, even before you had a social security number, was being a caddy. For those of you that have never heard of a caddy, it is person that carries the golf bag for a golfer, and also sometimes helps the golfer with club selection and golf strategy, typically based on special knowledge of the course, the greens, and the skill of the player. If you have ever watched golf on TV, the caddies are the guys carrying the bags, typically dressed in white, that have the golfers names on their uniform. I was a caddy at Norwood Hills Country Club, which was in walking and cycling distance from my house. It was also the venue for the 1948 PGA Championship, and other professional golf tournaments throughout the years. By being a caddy, I learned a lot about golf strategy, and enjoyed working outdoors, getting exercise, and the fringe benefit of being able to play the course during caddy day, which was once a week.
I didn’t play a lot of golf as a kid, and even less in high school and college. After graduation, I played maybe once a year, and even less after I had kids. However, about six years ago I made the conscious decision to take-up golf on a more serious level, and I haven’t looked back. It has been one of the most enjoyable recreational activities in my life, even though I also play tennis, snow ski, and workout at a gym. There are five reasons that I love golf, and they are all reasons why golf provides things that are not available in any other sport. Although I joined a country club when I made the decision to play more golf, it is definitely not a requirement. There are numerous fun public golf course that are and relatively inexpensive, and in San Diego you can play year around.
You can have some level of camaraderie in tennis, running and even lifting weights if you have a workout partner, but golf is different. A group of two or four people can play a round of golf together even if they have a range of skill levels. You really cannot do that in tennis or running. You can also play with your spouse or you can play with another couple. You can do this in mixed doubles tennis, but you just can’t have the depth of conversation in that environment. In playing golf at The Bridges, I have made some wonderful friendships, and met some really awesome people during the club tournaments and weekly choose-up games.
(2) Can Conduct Business
Because you can play the game with people, conduct a conversation between shots, and spend about four hours together, golf provides a unique opportunity to build relationships that are not available in most other recreational activities. You can rent a yacht or take a customer to dinner, but there is something about playing golf with a business associate that is like no other activity.
No matter how good you get at golf, the challenge remains in the game. There are different tee locations on the course that offer different levels of challenge. The pin location is constantly changing on the course. The game is impacted by weather conditions such as wind and precipitation. The course changes throughout the day, and there are different courses throughout San Diego, throughout California, throughout the United States, and all over the world.
I think of the game of golf as multiple games in one: driving, long iron game, short iron game, chipping, pitching, putting, sand hazard play, and different lies on the course. All of these things impact your shot, and all of these things are specific skills.
There is also a good amount of strategy in the game of golf. This is sometimes called “course management”. There are many shots that offer risk/reward scenarios. You have to decide how you want to play the course. Your strategy may change depending upon the competitive nature of the game, or where you “sit” in the competition. The game is really even more of a mental challenge than it is about your golf skills. And, trust me, the golf skills are not easy to learn.
When you play golf you get a whole new appreciation of how amazing the PGA tour golfers are. The top players have a combination of amazing golf skill and nerves of steel. According to Dr. Bob Rotella’s article in Golf Digest, “Having control of your mind and using it properly can separate you from the competition, whether it’s at your club or on the PGA Tour. I believe every golfer has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and that using the mind is one essential way to improve.”
According to Golf Link, walking and carrying clubs burns 1,442 Calories, walking with push cart burns 1,436 Calories, and having a caddie or riding in a cart while playing golf burns 822-1,226 Calories.
Playing four hours of golf can be a great workout, especially if you walk the course. You don’t have to carry your own bag, but it is an option. (There’s a 9-hole course in Point Loma that’s perfect for a quick hour of golf in San Diego.) You can have a push cart, or at some courses even get a caddy. Even if you get a golf cart, you can share the driving responsibilities and walk portions of the course while your cart mate drives, and visa versa.
(5) See Wonderful Outdoors of San Diego and Across the World
I have played golf at over a dozen courses in the San Diego area include The Bridges, Santa Luz, Fairbanks Ranch, Del Mar Country Club, The Grand Del Mar, Torrey Pines, Mission Bay, The Loma Club, Riverwalk, Morgan Run, La Costa, Maderas, The Crosby, and Pauma Valley. I have a dozen more on my list here locally that I want to play.
As mentioned above, there are wonderful golf courses that offer different levels of challenges both locally and worldwide. I have played golf in San Diego, CA; Orange County, CA; Los Angeles, CA: Las Vegas, NV: Park City, UT; Maui, HI, Scottsdale, AZ; Atlanta, GA; Miami, FL; Michigan; New Jersey; Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan. I have close friends that have played in Scotland, Oregon, Ireland, and many tropical and exotic places.
Golf is a wonderful way to enjoy a vacation and build relationships. It is a lifetime sport like snow skiing and tennis. I know guys in the 70s and 80s that are still active golfers. I currently work with a golf coach, Geoff Goldstein, that is helping me a lot with my overall game.
What’s been your experience with golf? Frustration? Fun? Enjoyment? Do you love golf or hate golf? If you’ve played golf for long, you’ve experience the range of emotions, but one thing I find common amongst golfers: once you get the bug, it is hard to get it out of your system.