It is 5:23 AM. I have already been awake for an hour. The paper has been read. The pets have been fed. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons has been skimmed. My new putting grip has been tested, with results entered into a spreadsheet. A tee time has been made for 10 days from now. I am about to settle onto my couch for a 20-minute rehab therapy treatment for golfer's elbow. In just over an hour, I will be in my car headed to the course for what is unquestionably my dominant passion: playing the game of golf.
I am not a terrible golfer, but I am not good. I practice relentlessly, but sometimes get worse. I am left-handed, but learned to play golf right-handed, and then re-learned the game left-handed. I buy gear like a survivalist before the impending apocalypse, and it makes me happy even when it does not help me. I love meeting people while playing, but one of my greatest joys is to play alone with nobody in front of me.
While writing and podcasting about football, I coined the phrase, "There cannot be exhilaration without the threat of devastation." There may be no greater proof of that than golf. Every game, every hole, every shot brings the potential of both ends of the spectrum.
Golf...you may punish and abuse me, but I can't quit you. You are my obsession.
Few moments in life are better than the fleeting seconds of watching the ball take flight after a well struck shot. The world slows down. Adrenaline and dopamine combine for a healthy high. All is right.
Few moments are more infuriating than the skulled or duffed chip. Maybe you miss a 5-footer for birdie after three perfectly executed shots to get you there. The wonderful front nine spoiled by a humiliating back nine (or vice versa). A terrific round ruined by one or two blowup holes.
This melding of pleasure and pain makes golf a sort of socially acceptable fetish. Where else do you spend tons of money and time to get angry or feel bad about yourself? It is an unrequited love, perhaps, as we destroy the course and it returns the favor.
I decided recently that I want to be a scratch golfer. It is an insane goal. I am 45-years-old right now. I just started playing golf again last year after a 20-year hiatus. I am not naturally gifted as a golfer, and have a full-time job and family to take care of.
It is my goal, nonetheless.
Along the way, I will be sharing what is working and what is not. You will ride shotgun for my moments of glory and countless humilitions. Unlike most golf content, I will not hide my mistakes and flaws. You will feel better about your struggle by witnessing mine.
You will save money by hearing about money I wasted on gear, and apps, and training. You will cut strokes by reading relatable content from someone who is struggling as much as you to get better. You will save time searching for good content or good instruction as I try to separate the wheat from the chaff for you.
There will be guests who share their experiences and their lessons. There will be reviews of courses and clubs and food and drink.
We will have fun. We may even play a round or two, and a drink or two.
Come with me on this impossible quest as a middle-aged, mid-cap, golfer attempts what most will say cannot be done.
The sun is just now rising. There is dew on the grass, and crispness in the air. The tee sits between your fingers with the ball in hand, as you push it into the soil on the first tee. Air whooshes as you take a few warm up swings. Your mind clears as you stand over the ball. Inhale. Exhale. Swing. Crush. Center cut. Let's get there together. This is just the first hole.