Why do we play the game of golf? If you are a golfer you have asked yourself this question on more than one occasion. We buy all the latest equipment, clothing and accessories. We obsess over swing speeds, body turns, angles and grips. We watch pros on TV and fantasize about that one perfect round.
But why? Why do we play and why do we play often only to be humbled over and over?
We play golf because we’re competitive by nature. We play golf because we love being outdoors. We play golf because we enjoy the four hours with our buddies. We play golf because we would rather not be home doing yard work. We play golf because we can drink beer, gamble and joke around with our competitors. More important than all of that, we play golf because it’s a love.
Golfers who play at least once a week are in love. They are love with a game that is so demanding on both body and mind. It requires 100-percent focus, 100 percent of the time. To be good — and I mean really good — you have to possess the mental toughness only found in roughly .9 percent of the human population. Knowing that we are most likely not that .9 percent makes us want to play it even more. The never ending quest for perfection runs deep in our souls.
For those of us who played competitive sports or for anyone competitive by nature, golf is a game you can play and play competitively, well into your golden years. So what if we go out and grind out 17 holes with our buddies only to win $5 on the 18th? It’s that fire deep within that makes us want to keep coming back for more. It certainly isn’t about the $5. It’s about the fact that you won that $5 from your foe.
For me, golf is a perfect game. It symbolizes all that is or ever was once good in the world, a world where rules are followed, where your honor matters. Golf etiquette is just as important as the fundamentals of a swing. While nobody knows all the rules, we understand them and are called upon by the golf gods to police ourselves. Honor and integrity are two words that we rarely see in print anymore these days but walk on to any golf course in America and chances are you’ll see plenty.
I am saddened to see the game declining in popularity over the years. The number one reason cited in surveys is a “lack of time” to play the round. While it’s true most rounds take more than four hours, shouldn’t we all be making at least that much time for ourselves each week to relax, decompress and unwind? In the “need it now” world we live in, golf remains true and steadfast. It is a loyal constant and for many of us, a much-needed reminder of the way the world should be — if only for a few hours.
Brian Curtin has been an avid golfer for 32 years. He’s been the club manager at Great Rock Golf Club since 2008 and is the current president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Manorville with his wife Kerrilyn and their daughter Raegan.
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