For most people who have never golfed they do not get the whole idea of getting out and chasing a small white ball for miles.
To these people I offer this comment, try it, try it once to fully understand what the big deal is. Golf is a game that has been around for a few centuries. History says that golf originated in Scotland and I am sure it may have but there are other countries trying to steal their bravado. Well, in the end whoever did invent golf sure was creative.
Imagine way back when for a moment.
A person picks up a stick and hits a rock. He hits the rock till he finds a hole for it to fall in. Hurrah, I hit a rock into a hole. Look at me! Skip forward a few years and some person took the initiative to build a better stick and a better ball. The first true golf ball was made from sewn leather stuffed with chicken feathers and was called a ‘featherie’. In 1848 a Dr Paterson invented the gutta-percha golf ball. The ball was made from the sap of a Malaysian sapodilla tree. The sap had a rubber feel to it which made it easy to mold the sap into a ball using heat. Fast forward to today and now there are an infinite number of ball manufacturers each proclaiming differences to make you a better player. But man are they expensive for the average Joe.
Golf clubs evolved from wooden shafts and heads to today’s metal shafts and heads. Again, manufactures galore are trying to sell their clubs as being the biggest and best and again proclaiming to make you a better player.
Now, you have your clubs and balls neatly organized into a large or small golf bag. Plastic grocery bags won’t cut it 🙂 and your off to the golf course to play your first game of golf. But you hesitate because some self proclaimed expert tells you to go to a driving range first to practice. So off you go lugging your bag of clubs and when you get there you have to buy balls so you can hit them willy-nilly into an expanse of land owned by a company who is willing to go pick up the balls when everyone is done. Cool!
So now you get up to a mat with simulated grass. Hey! Where is the real stuff? Well, the driving range reserves the natural grass for people who pay for lessons. More money to spend. Now if you really want to learn how to golf, a golf lesson is worth the expense. It will at least teach fundamentals of how to hit a small ball with a big club into a small hole. Sounds easy but when you try it you quickly learn how difficult it can be. I have seen all sorts of people fail at this seemingly easy task.
OK, now you are on the driving range ready to hit balls. I look into my golf bag and I have anywhere from 7-14 clubs in the bag. What now? Which club do I pick? Well, the answer is simple. Take any club because you have never hit a ball before so it won’t make any difference at this point which one you select. Look over to see what everyone else is hitting and the majority will be hitting a driver, the macho man club. Personally, I would take out my 7 iron. It’s shorter and easier to control but if your macho go for the driver. Don’t be surprised if you can’t hit it properly though.
So you have hit a bucket of balls and you are completely wiped out because you never thought it was a strenuous sport. Surprise! Your hands are blistered because you did not hold the club properly and it kept spinning in your hand. You were swinging the club so hard it almost threw your back out. But don’t worry. You got through the first phase of what a novice golfer goes through. You will repeat this ritual from now until you give the game up because that is what is needed to get better. Imagine, Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time spends hour upon hour pounding out golf balls and he loves doing it. I would to if I made a billion dollars doing it 🙂
Today is the day you finally get out to the golf course. You are given a tee off time meaning you must be up on the first tee at precisely this time to hit the first golf shot of your life on a real honest to goodness golf course. You place your tee in the ground and place your ball on it. You stand next to your ball, like you did at the driving range, and you swing mightily. The ball dribbles forward 50 yards. Your buddies hit it out there 250 yards and now you feel like a failure.
Chin up. Golf requires all players to hit multiple shots to get the little white ball into a 4.25 inch hole. You step up to your shot and this time you catch it and it goes 150 yards to the right into a cluster of trees. Your ball comes to rest smack dab behind a huge tree blocking you from hitting towards the hole. Being the novice that you are you will attempt a miraculous shot and try to hit the ball through the tree because one of your buddies tells you that trees are 70% air. Yeah, but they’re 30% solid too and for the novice you have a better chance getting hit by lightening than hitting it through the trees. Common sense says to hit the ball sideways into play so you can hit it straight towards the golf hole again. But noooooo!. The ball smacks the tree hard and shoots right over your head into dense foliage. Ball is lost. There goes a few dollars down the drain.
Pull out another ball from your bag and place it on the ground and hit another shot. This time a little better as the ball lands before the green. Now you say I am closer to the hole now so getting it into the 4.25 inch hole should be easy. Oh yeah! The know it alls of golf say that about 70 % of all golf shots are hit from within a short distance from the green. Let’s put this into perspective. A hole which is labeled a par 4 means the hole is measured to take 4 shots to get the ball into the hole. If you hit the green in 2 shots, you have 2 more shots to get the ball into the hole. That’s 50%. If you come up short you still have 2 shots but the challenge increases because it is easier to putt a ball than to chip a ball. Oops, more golf terms used here, sorry! The challenge is to hit the ball so it comes to rest either in the hole, (way to go) or as close as possible to mitigate extra shots beyond the allowable 4 par. Easier said than done. Golf is also a feel game meaning you need to know how hard to hit the ball so it approaches the hole without scooting by the hole or god forbid you completely miss the shot and it comes dreadfully short of the hole.
Let me summarize this by saying this. If you can get the ball into the hole within the allowed number of shots you have done extremely well. But in reality the majority of golfers do not achieve this accomplishment. In fact, only 5% of all golfers in the world actually shoot less than 100 shots in a round of golf. This is a milestone for all novices. Breaking 100 and now you feel like a pro. I remember when I broke 100 for the first time. I shot 99. I was ecstatic. Why? It took me 10 years to do it. But once I did my confidence began to grow by leaps and bounds and I improved continually from there on. Now in my senior years I have regressed. Something about flexibility and not being able to hit it long. Oh well!
Back to the title of this blog. Golf- a Release to Nature. When on a golf course stop and look around. What you see is manicured surfaces but behind that is nature. I once golfed in Saint Thomas Virgin Islands on a course called the Devils Triangle. The challenge was great but I left there with a memory of seeing iguanas perched on trees and running across the fairways. Never seen anything like that where I come from. But where I golf, to see a beautiful red fox or deer galloping across the course is not uncommon. To see mountains towering ahead of you making you feel like you are in a fish bowl. What a sensation! To hear the sound of rivers or streams flowing while birds wade in the water is soothing and entertaining. To wade through a gaggle of geese to get to your ball before they scoop it up and drop it in the lake is hilarious. To enjoy all this whilst strolling with good friends or family is an escapist dream.
This is the real golf you should go out and enjoy. The game of golf is the excuse. To get out and get exercise and to enjoy nature is the fun. Sure it takes a few hours to play. But think about what else you might be doing that would not give you as much enjoyment. Given a choice I would rather golf than mow the lawn. Right guys!
As one wise man said, a bad day at the golf course is better than a good day at the office.
There is always a reason not to do something but in the case of golf it is a multi purpose activity and not many offer you the same entertainment.
So get out and golf and have one hell of a good time, I know I sure will……
Neil @ whatdoyouhavetoknow.com