When I began searching for a pursuit to fill the void left by surfing this year, the first thing that came to mind was golf, probably because it requires a level of fitness somewhere between curling and poker. After completing my first round of the year (I usually play two rounds annually), I’m extremely confident. That is, in my ability to become a scratch golfer. That is, if being a scratch golfer means scratching golf off my short list of pursuits to fill the void left by surfing.
Golf sucks. I’m not sure how much of that sentiment stems from the fact that I suck at golf, but it has to be a factor. After all, I think aerials suck, mostly because I cannot do them. I wouldn’t say I’ve given myself a decent chance to learn how to do aerials, roughly the same chance I’ve given golf, twice annually. But this isn’t about aerials sucking, because golf sucks a thousand times worse than aerials.
I’ve got some hand-me-down clubs from my father-in-law (who is more than half-a-foot taller than me, so they’re way too big). These clubs reside in a moldy bag that, as you know, only sees the light of day twice annually. These two outings are mostly enjoyable, not because I’m drawing pleasure from shooting a ball in every direction except the one in which I want it to go but 99% because I’m hanging out with my friends and drinking or gambling, or sometimes both.
I know how to hit a golf ball. Unfortunately, I don’t look good doing it. One friend told me I hit the ball like Travis Logie surfs. Logie is a professional, ranked among the world’s elite, but his style is jerky and hard on the eyes. My friend suggested I try to swing more like Joel Parkinson surfs, buttery smooth and visually pleasing. A brilliant idea, but when I do so, I strike the ball with all the force of a jab from a T-Rex.
Most of my shots, if they clear the ladies’ tee, turn sharply to the left and usually land out of bounds. I understand this is because I lift my head to see where the ball is going before I even hit it. I am well aware of how stupid this is, but I can’t help it. I tell myself not to lift my head, then I lift my head. You see, there are a million other critical things to remember all at the same time in order to hit a decent golf shot. And as we know, thinking while doing results in doing poorly.
Occasionally, around once every fifty shots, I hit one that resembles that of a middling pro. Afterwards, I have no clue what I did differently than the previous 49 that landed in the woods, or the sand, or the water. Maybe I remembered not to think. I know that this shot is a pro-level shot because, for some reason, I sometimes watch golf on television. I love watching the final round of a big golf tournament on a Sunday afternoon. I also love taking a nap on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. Not coincidentally, one inevitably leads to the other. Golf, I’ve found, is the cure for insomnia.
After four hours of surfing I feel sore and tired, but mostly I feel satiated. 18 holes on the links is more akin to the Bataan Death March, and that’s with a golf cart. Afterwards, I feel dirty and disoriented, unsure if the atrocities I’ve witnessed (my shots, the outfits, the dishonesty of some players) can ever be forgotten. If the weather was beautiful, like it was this time, I’m left thinking I just wasted half-a-day of beautiful weather.
So as I reach the fifth month of my quest, the search for surfing’s temporary replacement continues. I’m faced with eight more long months without riding waves. Perhaps worse than that, I still have one more round of golf to get through.
*To my friends and family who have told me that their passion for golf is equal to mine for surfing, I want to apologize. I’m sorry, not for ranting about how golf sucks, But because you fell in love with something that really sucks. That’s unfortunate. I can only hope that after reading this, you come to your senses.