Growing up, I hung out with the same group of friends pretty much every day. While we were pretty active with boating, fishing, football, basketball, tennis, etc., none of us were involved with golf, which kind of sucks.
Throughout the last four years, my son has been about the only person who I’ve played golf with on numerous occasions. With his calm demeanor, you couldn’t ask for a better playing partner. Those rounds have been the most enjoyable and memorable. Just last month, he accepted a job downstate and will be moving 4 hours away. I’m very happy for him, of course, because this is what he went to school for. And we’ve already looked up courses in the Farmington Hills area and it appears he’ll have plenty of them close to his new home.
The fact remains that I will be playing almost all of my golf now as a single.
I don’t make friends as easily as I used to. My lifestyle and available free time - in addition to my sometimes abrasive personality - don’t allow for the burden that friendships can bring. And the thought of seeking out playing partners just seems, well, kind of weird.
There are golf leagues I could join, but that brings back memories of playing in municipal softball leagues with a bunch of 20 and 30 year old bros who take a sport normally played by high school girls, way too seriously (that’s not meant as an insult to high school girls - their version of the game is much tougher). From what I understand about some of the golf leagues, the ends of winning justify the means of cheating. If there’s any truth to that, it doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.
For the most part, the random joining up with others has been a positive experience. There has been the occasional a-hole, but most people are pretty cool to spend a couple hours with. The nice thing about playing golf with others is that I tend to keep my emotions in check and I sometimes play a little better golf. I also get to see that I’m not the only one who hits tee shots into the woods, misses short approach shots, and has trouble getting out of the sand. On the rare occasions when I’ve played with skilled players, watching that level of golf has served both as entertainment and as a level to strive for. The older players I’ve joined up with have a certain pragmatic approach to the game that many of us can learn from. I can see how playing in a foursome every Sunday morning with folks I get along with would be enjoyable, even if not entirely necessary.
Golf is different things to different people. It can be competitive, relaxing, challenging, a good way to spend time with friends, or all of the above.
For me, it’s a good way to get away from the daily BS of the workplace, the “drama” of family (in-laws anyway) and to avoid what sometimes seems too much like effort to get along with others. It also serves as barometer that what I work on in the way of practicing is beneficial. As I’ve posted many times, the feeling that a perfectly struck approach shot brings is a high that keeps me coming back. And even when my game is in the toilet (which is often), a 4 mile walk on a beautiful course on a beautiful morning with no one else in sight is not the worst way to spend time.
So does playing with others make the game more enjoyable? Often times it does. Do I need the company of others to enjoy golf? Not at all.