I am not a good golfer (see Bacon Par). I hate to keep bringing up the sport, but as one’s ability to play real sports starts to fade, all you’re left with is golf.
In the military, golf is a chance to rub elbows with your boss in a non-threatening environment (that being said, it’s always a good practice to lose, no matter how bad he/she is).
But what rubs me the wrong way is that in golf, unlike in say, nuclear engineering, immediate feedback makes you worse. If you are about to push the wrong button in the control room of nuclear reactor, you kind of want someone to correct you on the spot. In golf, mid-course corrections have the opposite effect.
There is no faster way to destroy a good game than to tell your golf partner, “You’re bending your arm,” or, “You’re standing too close to the ball.”
When I first started to learn the sport (our new Commanding Officer was a golfer), I went to the driving range to practice. So did the new Skipper. When he spotted me, he pulled up a chair and sat RIGHT BEHIND ME as I took my swings. He was a good golfer and had lots of helpful information to pass along. By the end of the bucket the marshals were yelling “FORE” before I even teed off.
I’ve had people – and this is true – have me stand BACKWARDS while swinging to correct some sort of problem. Others have said helpful things like, “Play to your slice,” whatever that means. Many have offered advice in the middle of a round. All have resulted in increasing my score. Unfortunately in golf, increasing your score is bad.
I once vowed to practice alone, and selected a time to work on my technique when most people were working. Sure enough, there was only one other golfer there, and he was at the far end of the driving range. Happily I began to swing away. Then, from across the range I heard a voice say, “You’re lunging.”
I had never seen that guy before in my life. I guess you know your game is improving when you get to the point where you can’t resist the urge to tell a total stranger what they’re doing wrong.
There are times for such comments. Like, for example, if money is on the line and the score is close. In that situation, I recommend saying something like, “That little hitch you have just before you swing is really working for you,” or, “Have you thought about changing your grip?” The cash is as good as in your pocket.
I’ve said before that golf is a game of opposites. In nuclear engineering a helpful and timely correction prevents a meltdown; in golf it causes one.
They say it’s called “golf” because all the other four-letter-words were already taken. Maybe so, but I’ll continue to play because I enjoy it and I can golf until I’m ninety. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get the advice that takes me to the next level.
Until then I’ll keep hitting the driving range and practicing my swing. You’ll know me if you see me – I’ll be the one who’s lunging.