The gall of golf

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

So it is with the game of golf: blissful one moment, brutal the next.

Peel away the flawless technical execution and the acute mental strain that must be present every time one addresses the ball, and golf is simple at its core. The less you hit a little white sphere before it plunks into a little round cup, the better. Sounds easy enough, right?

One of the best golfers in the world showed you last week that it's not so easy. One day, Tiger Woods looked prepped to win the U.S. Open; the next day he looked angry enough to chop down a cypress with his 2-iron. If he did at one time want to be a Navy Seal, as suggested in a recent book written by his former coach, then Woods was no doubt considering a leap into San Francisco Bay on Sunday.

What's more surprising is that even though so-called Tigermania has petered out, the media has continued to cover him, solely on the basis, it seems, that such a monumental collapse is good for television.

Well, who can blame them?

Tiger's failures make for drama in a sport where participants compete in pink slacks and argyle sweaters while rarely breaking a sweat. At one time Woods was considered to be the best athlete in the world. That's a loaded statement.

I love golf. I hate it, too. I love it for all its serenity, and I hate it for all its impracticalities. It's quiet and calm, agonizing and frustrating all rolled up into one experience. There's a lifetime of emotions scattered throughout one round, sometimes one hole. A tee shot duck hooks into a pond, a fat fairway iron goes nowhere, a par putt comes up short. Flub. Flub. Square, straight and sweet. Flub. Perfect and picturesque. Flub. Got a chance at par. Bogey. Double bogey. Triple bogey. Snowman. Cripes, why are we keeping score? 

And then, as if some sort of magical potion has been sprinkled upon a sand wedge or a 7-iron, the blessed swing is effortless and the shots soar breathtakingly. But it's never long before the wheels fall off again and it's back to hitting like the old jalopy you thought you had traded in for a Mercedes. That's golf. It's incorrigible.

And the gall of the professional side of it. Golf is the only sport where a player can finish a round and have to wait for someone else to mess up so he can then win (congratulations, Webb Simpson). Golf is the only sport where the year's Masters champ, Bubba Watson, and the top-ranked player in the world, Luke Donald, don't make the U.S. Open cut, but a high school senior, Beau Hossler, and a freshman in college, Jordan Spieth, do. 

Golf is the only sport that can cause a grown man to drop to his haunches and literally bite into his club on the 18th fairway during the final round of play (poor Jim Furyk).

So it is with the game of golf: blissful one moment, brutal the next.

 

Contact: bspencer@oakpark.com

Twitter: @oakparksports

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