Golf, the sport that I have been playing for around 60 years, with the exceptions of 1964 and 1995. It is an activity that has given me enjoyment, heartbreak, and has kept me fascinated the entire time I have been playing. I was introduced to the game, as I was introduced to all sports, by my father. Our three main sports, were bowling, baseball and golf. I have many fond memories of golfing and bowling with my Dad, that will be with me forever. One of the things my Dad would always do, when we had to wait on the tee box, was to look for tees. During the round he and I would find anywhere from 20 to 30 tees per round. To this day, when there is a delay on the tee box, I do this, just as a remembrance to my Dad. The game has come a long way since those teenage days of the sixties. However, the game has taken a downturn in participation, since the turn of this century. The reasons given are, the economy, since the 2008 crash, not as much leisure time, it is not a game for the millennials, and it is just too hard to learn. It is a difficult game to learn, and then go out and play for the first time. There are people in front of and behind you, seemingly watching your every move. If you are learning and you play slow, which goes hand in hand, it can be stressful trying to keep up with the group in front of you. You have enough stress in life. You don’t need more, doing some leisure activity. Golf courses are not being built any more in the U.S, but there is still plenty of places to play. There is no doubt that it is a consumer market right now. Golf rates to play are more than reasonable.
If you have never played golf and are thinking about starting, now is as good as any, to give it a try. There are plenty of times when courses are not busy, and you can get out and get started. The best way to start is to take a lesson, but if you don’t want to get into that expense, then there are many great instructional books that can get you started in the game. If you have a group of friends that might want to start together, group lessons are usually very reasonable. To get started, hit balls at a driving range, for a few times. Then play par 3 courses and what’s called executive courses that are courses that have mostly par 3’s and some short par 4 holes. If you have a week day off, then play in the middle of day when these courses are not crowded. You should have freedom to take your time and learn the game. After playing these kinds of courses for about 5 or 6 times, then try a regulation course, that is around 6000 yards. Playing in the middle of the day on a week day, should work on these courses, as well. Sometimes very early in the morning will be good and weekends around 5pm, or after will find courses that are not crowded. Some of my favorite rounds were playing in the evening on Saturdays with my Dad. Most golf courses offer discounts for late in the day weekend play. Generally courses with only nine holes are not as busy. Equipment does not have to be expensive. Walking into a golf shop or sporting goods store and looking at new golf equipment can send you into sticker shock. You will fine one club costing over $500 and some sets of irons running around $1500 to $2000. You can find new equipment on E-Bay and other local pro shops that are older models for reasonable prices. A very good set of clubs can be had for under $500 very easily.
If you decide to take up golf, you will find it is a great way to spend time with family and friends. The environment is beautiful and the challenges are many. There is one caveat. Many people feel that golf is not a very physically demanding sport. This is one of many misconceptions about the game. When you learn to swing a golf club, you will be using muscles that you have never used in your life. That is how unique the golf swing is. It’s not to discourage you in starting to play golf, but more of a word to the wise. The greatest part of golf is that no two rounds are ever the same. Golfing in less than ideal weather can be fun and increase the challenge. This is also a good time to get out when the course is not that crowded. I feel you can play golf comfortable in temperatures around 38 degrees, as long as there is not a lot of wind. The most essential pieces of equipment in weather like this, is a good toboggan hat and golf winter gloves. Even playing in a light drizzle with temperatures in the 50’s is not bad, if there is very little wind. Golf will get you outdoors and just make you feel better for doing it. The game has frustrated me to no end, because I have always had some competitive goals when it comes to golf and in general have failed miserably to reach them. I will always be glad and thankful that I took up the game at an early age and have explored this game, more than anything else. It has been a very rewarding spiritual experience. The next blog on Golf will discuss the complex relationship golf has had with society.