The holiday round of golf with my father-in-law was going oh so smoothly last week.
Good weather, good company, guilt-free time and thankfully, nobody really keeping score. On the sixth hole, my tee shot put me ahead of my father-in-law and the shots of a Retired Methodist minister and his wife.
On his second shot, the preacher shanked a low-runner in my general direction. I saw it coming and tried to backpedal away, but it still slammed directly into my left ankle, branding the word “Titleist” on my socket and sending me to the Rocky ground. An injury in a relaxing non-contact sport. Considering the foursome’s makeup, all of our words were chosen carefully.
“I’ve played with some guys that I’d like to hit before, but not you,” said the red-faced preacher. “Sorry about that. Hope you’re a forgiving kind of guy. ”
Golf is a forgiving kind of game with midlife analogies, New Year’s resolution ties and philosophical rambles.
Set short and long-term goals. It’s easy to shoot your weight and have a handicap below your age, you don’t always get to pick your partner and you get to see your friends, coworkers, neighbors and even your boss at their best and worst.
Boston newspaper columnist Ellen Goodman says golf is like midlife.
“In these years you really have to play it as it lays. You don’t get to start everything all over again. The now you get is in Mulligan. If it’s an unplayable lie, everybody sympathizes, but you still have to take a penalty.
“On the other hand, golf, like midlife, also offers another chance,” she writes. “No matter how badly you hit one ball, you can still recover on the next. Of course, no matter how well you hit one ball, you can always screw up on the next one. ”
It wasn’t always part of my Sporting Pursuits. Golf, my family Presumed early, was for Eisenhower Republicans who drank and played gin.
We were Kennedy Democrats, playing bridge and drinking Jax. Dad played twice that I remember. Granddad called it “cow pasture pool,” and never played anything more strenuous than dominoes.
Golf, for me, began about age 40 when weekend naps were no longer politically acceptable on the Homefront and recovering from Weekly, late-night softball league games at Reaves Park took more than a week.
Now, I am one of about 25 million hackers playing more than 16,000 courses here on the continent. But I am also one of the few to ever be injected in such a passive sport.