02 June 2009

A small slice of my very peculiar utopia

As the post below revealed starkly, and as many out there already knew, I play golf. It's important to note the construction of that declaration. First, despite the somewhat odd contribution from a commenter (on the previous post) unknown to me, I'm not making any claims about whether golf is a sport - an inane debate that I refuse to engage in. Next, golf is not a verb. One does not 'go golfing'. I don't care that people say that, they are just as wrong as if they said they were going 'tennising'. One plays golf, or plays a round of golf. In Britain, one can even 'have a game' of golf or ask 'how was your game?' but that construction walks a fine line that few Americans can pull off.

Now, when I say 'I play golf' I mean something much different than when a lot of Americans, today, say it. For me it is not a past-time, but a passion. I want to play golf not to enjoy the outdoors (though that is a nice side-benefit), nor to drink beer, nor to smoke cigars, nor to ride around in a ridiculous golf cart. I play golf in order to get better at playing golf. It is a terribly difficult and endlessly frustrating game; it is unconquerable, unmasterable, and tests any individual's limits of patience. And it's a very different (and mostly better) game when there is some real pressure involved - when each shot matters. This is why tournament golf is actually a totally different game, and why most people who say they play golf are talking about something different.

Given my line of work and given my friends, I know almost no one who plays golf. One reader of this blog is an exception, and perhaps the only one I can think of. So in addition to all the other things I'm whinging about above, there's the issue of always having to join up with strangers when I play.

That's all context...on to the story

Yesterday it was about 72 degrees here with bright blue skies and almost no humidity. And I got a text inviting me to join a foursome that included:
1) a veteran competetive amateur in the area who has won a number of local and regional tournaments.
2) another local who has qualified for the mid-amateur twice and won his local club championship by 23 strokes (!)
3) a senior on a top NCAA golf team who qualified for the US amateur last year.

It was a dream round. After 8 holes our foursome had 8 birdies. They partnered me, the relative hack, with #3 (no, not that #3) and together we shot about 66 better ball. He was 3 under after 6 and finished around 70. I held my own with a 74. Our oppenents were both around that number as well. In addition, they gave me strokes, and were not happy about it as the round went on. So I netted a few dollars in the end...But it wasn't about the money and it was only about the match to the extent that twice on the back 9 I had to make difficult par putts when my partner had bogied, and it's hard to describe what it's like when you feel all that pressure and then execute properly.

To paraphrase Bob Johnson, it was a great day for golf.


Transient Gadfly said...

"Golf" is, in fact, a verb--it describes the act of hitting an object with an underhand swing, e.g. "Ichiro golfed a low fastball into the gap for a double." As such, you might reasonably use "go golfing" to describe going to the driving range for the afternoon or something.

fronesis said...

OK, I'm going to give you the first part, but NOT the second - unless by "go golfing" you mean "going to the driving range to hit fastballs with a baseball bat and in each case taking a swing that in baseball is described as 'golfing'."

But if one has a golf club and a golf ball and is playing or practicing the game of golf then "golfing" is incorrect. Always.

sageblue said...

Glad you had a great round. I really do need to got out there and play a round. I'm sure I will suck, but I do miss it.

Number Three said...

I'm always such a wet on usage questions that I never understand why it matters whether a word is a noun or a verb. Do you object to the sentence: "I will email you the results."? Not "I will send you an email with the results."

It's true that being a person like we are (there's a hard one to get your head around), we often have interests that others like us find strange. For example, I have two tickets to Nationals games (ten games a season). I love baseball. Watch an inning or more on teevee almost every day, read the box scores most mornings, and I am the world's worst fantasy BB manager. But at this point in my life, I don't have any social friends in D.C. who like baseball. It's actually hard for me to find someone to go to games with--and I have really good seats.

So I appreciate the difficulty finding golf partners.

Unlike you, however, I detest pressure. Not at work--where I have a fair amount of it, and I think I deal with it well--but in my recreation. I run, sure, but I don't time many of my runs, and I rarely run a race. My favorite pastime is hiking, which is almost completely non-competitive (thru-hikers may disagree). Playing golf for money--I can, intellectually, understand why that is fun for other people, but not my cup of tea.

fronesis said...

A. I would love to go to a Nats game with you. We have Orioles tickets as well.

B. It's not about the money, but just about knowing that the putt/shot really matters. And I suppose I like it because I grew up with it (ski racing and golf).

C. I have no general problem with noun/verb issues. Email me the results any time you wish. And my issue here isn't even really about grammatical usage, so much as the particularly language game of golf. I realize that grammatically golf can be a verb. I'm just saying that for people who know and love the game, it's really WRONG to use it as a verb, just as it would be, in a more general sense, if you said 'tenissing'.