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The 'Game' of Golf

Most golfers play by certain standards. They abide by rules that aren’t even part of the game. For instance, a big one is the amount of time it takes to play with regards to your playing partner. People don’t like playing golf with other people if they slow them down a considerable amount: they especially don’t like doing this. Pace of play is oftentimes a game within a game as you navigate a round with another, and many golfers refuse to play with slower golfers even if they’re similar handicaps, which, of course, also tends to determine a perfect outing or pairing. In my brother’s case, however, he tends to get picky with people who play too fast. He likes taking his time, taking ten practice putts and really thinking out every aspect of each shot. He imagines every round he plays is Sunday at Augusta. This is a great attitude, but trust me, it infuriates everybody we play with together, himself and caddies included.

I’m working at a nice private course up in Michigan. One of those billionaire clubs where everything needs to be perfect. It was really cool because snacks grew on the trees up there and they were in bountiful supply. I hate driving. Which, if you read my book you would chuckle at this notion because I put 200,000 miles on my 2014 Nissan Juke in less than 4 ½ years. So clearly for a person who hates driving, I did quite a bit of it, to say the least. Anyways, I hated to drive these Club Cars and Workmans (two commonly used golf cart type cars that maintenance workers use) at work. The thing is, that is my game inside the game when it comes to golfing. Like I said, I hate driving so I try my best to coerce my playing partner into driving the golf cart during our round. So at the last club I worked at, I made sure I got paired with Jake. Just like on a golf round or outing, I dislike driving at work as well. You know how every class has a class idiot. Well, Jack was this golf course’s maintenance crew idiot. I found him delightful. I don’t know what that says about me, but the simple fact remained… Jake loved to drive.

What did this mean? Well it meant if there was a sand hill or back road that we came across it was imperative we take a break from work and see if the club car could handle the given terrain. Jake was no stranger to ramming the Workmans up the sand piles or dirt mounds, and he always made sure to look at me right before he was about to do it. As if to say, ‘hey Will do I have your approval to do this?’ and also, ‘Get ready, Will, I’m about to see what kind of engine this cart has underneath it.’ I loved it! All I had to do was hang on, smile, and sure enough, I had entertainment everyday.

Eventually, my golf course philosophy finally showed during one of Jake and I’s conversations during break time at work. He was bragging about taking his girlfriend out golfing for the first time and how he beat her. This makes me laugh because I’ve seen Jake swing a golf club, and it’s not pretty. So I ask Jake, ‘Did you drive?’ -’You bet I did!’ he exclaimed. I bantered back, ‘Then Jake, you already lost’. He sat there quiet and maybe a little confused. I think he finally pieced together why I liked working with him so much. He likes to drive and I like to ride. You see, Jake is the worker that cuts in front of play, is constantly using his phone, and talks while members are swinging (loudly), but we were a perfect fit. Plus, I knew if I was riding with Jake, there was no way I could get in trouble… I kid, but just a little bit.

In the end, there are a lot of games that golfers play along the way. Some formal and for money, some informal. When you’re playing with friends it’s hardly ever a game of just the best score in 18 holes. There’s always something the group is doing or each individual is doing to make the game more interesting. For instance, I try not to take any practice swings, which I have done very successfully. However, this year I’m going to take some to see if it helps. I really want to make significant gains this year as is the case every year. I just hope I’m not putting too much pressure on myself -- it’s just, waiting tables is getting old and it’s my lifelong dream to be a golf pro. Guess we’ll just have to play it by ear. I think life is a little like golf in that there has to be objectives throughout the day or even year that you set for yourself other than eat, work, sleep. There’s just so much time to kill… I don’t know how the pros do it.

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