'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
GOLF (AND THIS GOLFER) IN DECLINE
A recent story on the Sports page of this newspaper examined the worrisome decline in golfers. (I don’t mean that individual golfers themselves have declined—physically, emotionally, or otherwise. I mean the NUMBER of people playing golf has declined.)
In just the last three years the number of active golfers in America has dropped by almost 4 million, a reduction of nearly 15-percent. (Actually, now that I think about it, many individual golfers—including the one typing this sentence—have indeed declined physically, emotionally, and otherwise.)
The game of golf experienced a boom beginning in the mid-1990s. The popularity of Tiger Woods prompted many people to take up the sport, people who ordinarily would not be considered typical “country club” folks (including, again, the one typing this sentence). Because of the influx of new golfers, many new golf courses were built during the past decade, the expectation being that golf would continue to grow and someday soon become as popular as watching television.
Well, that did not happen, and as a result, the recent decline in golfing activity is considered “worrisome.” As you might expect, building an entire golf course is not exactly a weekend project. First, you need a huge patch of real estate, and as we all know, real estate in Connecticut is very affordable—if you happen to be the Sultan of Brunei.
Many real estate developers and golf course owners currently are saddled with construction loans larger than the annual budgets of many small nations. A reduced number of golfers means a reduced number of paying customers, which means many real estate developers and golf course owners are in a “worrisome” condition. (In the world of construction loans, “worrisome” often means: “on the verge of jumping out of a 10th floor window.”)
The Sports page article explained that a couple of factors are being blamed for the widespread dip in golfing: the sport is rather expensive and people simply do not have a lot of free time in their busy schedules.
Well, I’m sure these factors contribute to the situation. But the article only briefly touched upon the true problem. A long-time golf pro was quoted as saying, “Some people want instant gratification and sometimes golf’s not the easiest sport.”
That quotation just might be the Number One all-time understatement in history. It’s a lot like saying: sometimes hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer is not the most pleasurable sensation.
The game of golf is by far the most difficult and frustrating sport known to mankind. I once speculated on these pages that the game of golf was invented by sadistic Nazi scientists to measure how much frustration human beings can endure.
An old college buddy and I were talking about this not too long ago. It’s true that the both of us are now pudgy, pale, middle-aged schlubs. We freely acknowledge that fact. But back in the day, we played varsity football together. (Well, we actually watched from the sidelines a lot, waiting for various starters to get injured so we could see some playing time.) But the thing is, athletically speaking, we were not total dorks. And yet, nowadays when we try to hit a golf ball in a reasonably straight direction, each of us suddenly turns into the Spaz-Man of Alcatraz.
I think the only way to play the game of golf and avoid frustration is to play on a special course. The special course I have in mind is designed to be relaxing and stress-free—just as long as you time your shot correctly on the hole with the windmill.
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