On the links: The maddening nonsense that is the sport of golf
After a nearly eight-month hiatus, I played my first round of golf last week at Basalt High School’s fundraising tournament, held at the beautiful Roaring Fork Golf Club. For the most part, the feeling of getting a club back in my hands felt great, and the weather was spot on.
Now, I want to make it clear that I love golf. It’s one of my favorite sports. A few summers back I went with my grandfather and toured through Ireland, Scotland and England, and stopping at St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, was easily the highlight.
However, there are moments in a round where you can’t help but think golf is the most frustrating and absurdly stupid sport ever invented. Well, this happened a lot last week, in between trying to figure out why my repeated 300-yard drives always landed in the middle of the fairway — you know, the other hole’s fairway — to wondering how I turned a 2-foot putt into a 14-foot putt.
Whenever I get to this point, I love to think about comedian Robin Williams and his short skit on golf he did many, many years back. Google it, when you’re not at work. I would love to directly quote from it, but I’d have to mark out way too many F-bombs for it to be worth my while.
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Basically, Williams makes fun of the Scots for inventing a sport where you “knock a ball into a gopher hole” that is hundreds of yards away with “stuff” in the way. Then you do this 18 times? And every time you miss the ball it feels like you’re about to have a stroke (where do you think the term “stroke play” came from?).
My favorite line was probably about the pin, or flag, a beacon of hope to aim for in an otherwise maddening world of sand traps and rough so thick it would destroy your weed eater. Seriously, after 18 holes of this sadistic nonsense, I question why I would ever want to play again.
Yet I do, without fail. I don’t play enough (i.e., I’m not rich enough) to ever be good at golf. My roughly 18 handicap will never improve, and I will always leave the course wanting to toss my clubs in the pond on the way to the bar.
But don’t let me, because as stupid as golf can be, it’s still one of my favorite sports and I’m headed back out there the next chance I get.
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.