Making Sense of the Game of Golf

How did I make a twelve on a par five hole? It's simple. I missed a four-foot putt for an eleven.
- Arnold Palmer

I'm not entirely sure what to think of the round I played a couple of days ago, but maybe that's because it was a bit of a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde sort of round. I shot yet another bad score in my 18-month slump which has seen my index jump by 3. Doubles, a triple, no birdies. But - get this - the LOWEST number of putts, and hence, the most up and downs, of any round I can recall! Technically 21 putts, though I had an additional 3 putts from the fringe.

A much more "Zen" golfer than I would be happy with that accomplishment. Some pretty amazing up and downs and the putter was magical. But how good does it really feel to one putt for a double bogey? One putting for a bogey when you've had to take a drop from a hazard is one thing. But one putting for a double after dropping your third shot on a long uphill par four in a bunker and leaving it in there on the first attempt is an entirely different matter.

How many bittersweet emotions can playing one game elicit in a lifetime? How can we desperately want to quit the game "for good!" yet be unable to imagine our lives without it? Are golfers just hardwired differently than other folks?

I can't explain it. Nothing about my passion for the game of golf makes a lick of sense. In fact, if I had to guess, I'll soon be writing and expressing my frustration about a decent scoring round in which I had my HIGHEST number of putts. Go figure.

Arnold Palmer explains it best, in the words all golfers have likely read before....
Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.
- Arnold Palmer


  1. Here's the thing: I'm a pretty horrible golfer (it's taking a few liberties to call myself "a golfer" - even a horrible one), but I totally understand this. Why? Because every once in a (long) while, I hit a drive or sink a putt that feels, well, magical. In between those divine moments, I keep playing (once again taking liberties with the language to call it "playing") because I cannot help myself: I want to experience the feeling again.

  2. I love that Arnie quote. It really captures the magic. :) ...and you're so right about the bittersweet emotions.

  3. Slump Buster: Intentionally and carefully, decrease your swing speed by five miles per hour. Same takeaway, same swing through, same finish.

    Somehow the ball starts finding the center of the clubface more frequently. I never try to hit it far, just solid...

    Good luck. I hate it when good players that love the game fall into a prolonged slump. There are enough idiots out there that actually deserve a slump...

  4. Great quotes! I often marvel at how I may have a birdie putt one moment and then I'm praying for bogey (or double) the next.

    Putting is so strange. I'm all about feel. When it works, I can't miss. But when it's not working it's hard to figure out what it is wrong.

    I think golfer are wired differently. I just wonder how I wanted nothing to do with this game years ago and now I can't get enough.

  5. Same as waltzinexile... I feel the same way. There were times when I ask myself 'Why do I even play?' but then after asking myself that question, something special happens, like making a difficult putt, hitting a long drive, or chipping in from what seems like miles away... moments that I never thought I could pull, even in my wildest dreams. And when those 'moments' happen, I'd get a natural high that would devour all my frustrations away and make me come back for more.