Once upon a time, before I moved to Cincinnati, I had a neighbor whose wife made him give up golf. He frequently worked two shifts, and they had just had a baby. His wife gave him a choice: golf or the marriage. He had to think about it.
Finally, he sold me his golf clubs for $20. They weren’t a premium set, but they would do for the man who thought “golf” was spelled “Gulf” and was a chain of gas stations that was disappearing in Ohio. Since that described me to a tee (No pun intended), I bought them. Never played a round until I moved to Cincinnati. I worked too much for too little, so I neither had the time or the money for golf.
In Cincinnati, while my struggle to find gainful employment did not immediately improve, I did have a few bucks to spend on a bucket of balls. I lived in Oakley in my early days in the city. Lunken Airport was not too far away, and they had a par 3 course. I didn’t play there. I did, however, take my clubs to their driving range where, by gum, I developed a one hundred yard drive. For someone not fanatical about the sport to begin with, that’s actually not bad. And the driving range is an excellent way to blow off some steam.
During that time, however, I never worked on my short game. Like the old saying goes, drive for show, putt for money. Fortunately, I’d yet to play my first game, so I wasn’t losing too much money on golf as it was.
And then my now ex-father-in-law, Fred, moved to Hilton Head Island. It is a state law that, if you visit Hilton Head, you must play a round of golf. It was how the Confederacy bought time during Sherman’s march. I play my first round of golf in December of 1997 at Spanish Wells.
How bad was my short game? Fred visibly aged by the eighteenth hole. He informed me that 1.) I needed to practice putting, and 2.) I needed to buy a wedge.
Never did get that wedge. I did, however, try to practice my short game down at Lunken. I emphasize that I tried. I did not succeed. What I needed were lessons. At $40 a pop, at a time when I was heavily in debt, lessons were not happening. So my short game would suffer.
Eventually, as I moved into IT work, I found people to play golf with. On a contract job in 1998, my manager and I sneaked out to nearby Avon Golf Course for a long lunch and nine holes. It was 90 degrees, and I came back soaked with sweat. Now that’s dedication. I got some really good drives, but my short game probably prolonged the round. I shot 150. The game for me?
No, not really. I played my last game at Indigo Run on a Christmas Day in the early 2000’s. I and my fellow players weren’t members, but the course was closed. A resident didn’t cotton to that. He was also out on the course illegally. He demanded to know where we lived. He demanded to play through. He pointed out we all wore jeans, to which I told him to go get the club manager. He backed down as I lined up a drive, only to give me the Judge Smails treatment. I swear to God, he really said, “Well? We’re waiting!” just like in Caddyshack. I took a few extra moments to line up my drive.
One day in 2005, someone broke into the locker in the apartment complex where I lived and cleaned me out. They took tools I’d had, some for more than twenty years, and my gold clubs. It was a neighbor we could never quite catch in the act, but we knew he was stealing from everyone in the complex. One day, after the police came by to ask residents if we’d anything unusual, this idiot had the nerve to come downstairs and ask, “Hey, I heard you got robbed.” It reminded me of a Chris Rock bit about not seeing anything because the idiot was busy robbing him.
But that ended my career as a bad golfer. I had no desire to spend money on a new set of clubs. Eventually, I moved. I got divorced. I took up standup comedy. I got married and took on a stepchild. I went back to school. Now I know there are a lot of golfers out there who will tell me I’m making excuses. If I love something so much, I make the time it. They’re right.
Since I gave up golf, I have time for all sorts of things.