​The Love Of Golf

By Tom Abts






I love to play golf.

Years ago, I told my wife that if I was the only one left on Earth after a world war… that I would go and play golf.

I know, I know, weird, but true. I just love to play golf. Not to win… but for the pure joy of playing the game. It makes me sad when I see somebody here depressed because they didn’t play well.

I get it. Playing poorly is frustrating. But what is really sad is if they’re upset because they lost some money in a game. Maybe they played well, and the other player played better. That nullifies four hours on the golf course?

Famous golf course architect (and doctor) Alister MacKenzie said, “One of the reasons why I ‘a medical man’ decided to give up medicine was a firm conviction of the extraordinary on health and pleasurable excitement, especially when combined with fresh air and exercise. How frequently have I, with great difficulty, persuaded patients who were never off my doorsteps to take up golf, and how rarely, if ever, I have seen them in my consulting room again.”

Winning or losing a game on the golf course shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether it was an enjoyable experience.

Dr. MacKenzie wasn’t a psychiatrist. But mental institutions could be helpful for those who play golf and only enjoy it if they win. Instead of golf lessons… we should offer these folks therapy.

I respect tournament golf. No handicaps – “serious” golf. However, I still don’t understand the grim, silent thing. So, you’re better at sports if it’s silent? Should baseball batters insist that the crowd be quiet? I think there’s more here than I’m aware of. Remember that charming saying, “He who has the most toys at the end of life… wins.” So, life is just an experience to accumulate? So, golf is just a means to win some bets?

Last week, I had an old pro up in my office whose job at Shady Hills was to look after Ben Hogan (when he was 70). Every day, a crippled-up Hogan went to the range and beat balls for hours. He was done competing, but he loved golf! The reason he was once a great player was that he loved golf. The championships were icing on the cake.

Doing things right in business will usually pay off in the long run. But if the goal is just money, people will resent the work and usually try to figure out a way to cheat, scam, steal, etc.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big believer in goals and planning. However, it seems our society only values the rewards. If the reward is doing things right for the right reasons… everyday life becomes enjoyable. If living is only for the goals of winning and money and success… daily life become an annoying grind.

Golf can and should be a retreat from the nastiness of a crazy society. I don’t want people to bring that nastiness to golf and turn the experience and culture of golf into the insanity we want to get away from. The golf course should be sanctuary.

Hopefully the world won’t nuke itself. Golf could be the antidote to the madness. I want to keep playing golf with the human race. But I would still play golf if I was the last one standing.