The holiday golf game with my stepdad went really well last week.
Good weather, good company, guilt-free time, and luckily no one is really keeping score. On the sixth hole, my tee shot put me ahead of my stepfather and the shots of a retired Methodist minister and his wife.
On his second hit, the preacher launched a low runner in my general direction. I saw him coming and tried to back off, but he slammed straight into my left ankle anyway, marking the word “Titleist” on my socket and sending me crashing to rocky ground. An injury in a non-contact relaxing sport. Given the composition of the quartet, all our words have been chosen with care.
“I’ve played with guys I’d love to hit before, but you haven’t,” the red-faced preacher said. “Sorry about that. Hope you’re the forgiving type.
Golf is a kind of indulgent game with midlife analogies, New Year’s resolution ties, and philosophical ramblings.
Set short and long term goals. It’s easy to shoot your weight and have a lower handicap at your age, you can’t always choose your partner and you can see friends, co-workers, neighbors and even your boss at their best and worst .
Boston newspaper columnist Ellen Goodman says golf is like quarantine.
“In those years you really have to play the way you should. You can’t start all over again. The maximum you get is a mulligan. If it’s an unplayable lie, everyone sympathizes, but you still have to take a penalty.
“On the other hand, golf, like quarantine, also offers another chance,” she wrote. “No matter how well you hit a ball, you can always get the next one. Of course, no matter how well you hit a ball, you can always miss the next one.
It hasn’t always been part of my sporting activities. Golf, my family surmised early on, was reserved for Eisenhower Republicans who drank and gambled gin.
We were Democratic Kennedys, playing bridge and drinking Jax. Dad played twice that I remember. Grandpa called it “cow pasture pool” and never played anything harder than dominoes.
Golf, for me, started around the age of 40 when weekend naps were no longer politically acceptable on the home front and recovering from weekly late night softball league games at Reaves Park took over a week.
Now I’m one of some 25 million hackers who play over 16,000 courses here on the continent. But I’m also one of the few to have been injured in such a passive sport.