I'm one of eight people in the world, I believe, who doesn't play golf on a regular basis, or even much, yet loves watch it on television. I once even listened to the British Open on the radio!
It was a joy, therefore, watching the Ryder Cup this week between a team of players from the United States and those from Europe. But it was even more so because the Cup was played this year at Gleneagles in Scotland. That's because years ago on a family trip, when I was a kid, we stayed at Gleneagles. It's a legendary links golf course that opened 90 years ago in 1924, and beyond the history, it's ethereally gorgeous.
My dad's a bit golf lover, so the purpose in staying there was of course to play several rounds. I was just a kid, and hadn't played much, but I joined him for a round. Well, okay, it wasn't a full round, but I did play a hole. Okay, I actually didn't play a full hole, but I did hit several shots. Mind you, I didn't get off the tee. But it wasn't for lack of trying...
I intended to play the round. Or at least a few holes. Or just one hole, but the problem was that my first tee shot went slicing off far to the right and went flying into the gorse -- the deep, thick shrubbery that surrounds the fairway. As you might imagine, there's a whole lot of gorse, and ball that goes in there is pretty much gone for ever.
So, I set up another ball, and tried again, giving it a good thwack. And again, the ball sliced and soared deep into the gorse. And again. And again. And again. And...
Well, you get the point.
After six straight tee-shots (well, not "straight" in a directional sense, but in a row...) lost into the gorse, bracken and woods of Scotland, my dad politely asked if I'd please stop playing and would instead join him to walk around for the 18 holes.
It wasn't so much the cost of all those expensive golf balls which, if things continued at this pace for 18 holes, let alone one, we might not be able to afford the trip home, but rather that he had only so many balls in his golf bag, and wanted to be sure that he'd have enough to play the course himself.
I'd have loved to keep trying, but I did understand his point. And so, I walked the 18 holes with my dad. But I still have the memory of teeing off at Gleneagles -- even if I didn't get past that. And an equally joyous memory of walking through that remarkable setting.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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