I am married to a stranger.
I realized that as we set off on a beautiful summer’s day to play golf. It was not a stellar round for him. And at one point he muttered,“Why does my ball keep going right?”
“Finish your swing,” I suggested.
He looked at me silently but with what I can only describe as madness in his eyes. Being bright as a button I instantly recognized my error.
His was clearly a rhetorical question.
When this sort of thing happens the rest of the round is usually an exercise in self restraint. I say nothing inflammatory. Basically, I say nothing at all. To the untrained eye it might look as if we have quarreled. But it’s actually a military strategy- keep your head low and out of the line of fire and you’ll return to play together another day. You see, I have been down this road before. Once in Scotland my husband angrily snapped his driver in two after a less than satisfying shot. He then stomped off to the next hole which he, stunningly, eagled. The man I married returned to his former charming self. And like a non believer who has been reborn he suddenly reconsidered his recent rash behavior and raced back to the trash bin to recover what was left of his abandoned driver.
“I think it was a bad shaft anyway so just as well I need a new one.”
That’s the magic of golf. It breeds hope and despair in equal measure often alternating between the two throughout the round. As the latter dominates and the day suddenly goes pear shaped, people you think you know suddenly become someone else. Angry, abusive even. Mostly self abusive really.
When I have a particularly bad shot I immediately spew forth an ugly assortment of expletives including but not limited to the most foul swear word I can think of. It is always hugely cathartic. But my butch brother was once so shocked by my outburst that he warned. “I won’t play with you again if you keep talking like that.” Hell, I won’t play with me if I keep performing like that,” I thought.
As golf is such a frustrating endeavor, I sometimes wonder why we do it to ourselves. Because when it goes wrong it feels worse than losing money, getting lost or gaining ten pounds.
But when it goes well….Ah…Well, there’s nothing like it.
Before golf when I met someone new I would suggest lunch or dinner to get to know them. Now the first thing I ask is, “Do you play?”
The game has so much going for it. You’re usually in a most beautiful place. Enjoying friends. Getting exercise. There is personal challenge. And there’s the philosophical element as well.
Golf will reveal your character. It may bring out the worst in us (swearing and tantrums aside). But it also forces out the best. In golf you must persevere, regroup and recover in the face of failure. Those are just some of the parallels to life this game delivers. The great amateur Bobby Jones called “golf … the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
And really, you can’t give it up at this point, can you? You’ve already invested too much. There’s the golf memberships. The clubs. The clothes.
“What are you blogging about,” my husband asked several hours after our last round.
“That I am married to a stranger,” I replied.
“Are you really writing about me?” he asked with surprise in his voice..
“I won’t be amused,” he added.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I will let you read it before I send it out.”
“I hope so,” he said. “I don’t want the world to think I am being sulky,”
A little late for that don’t you think ????