I'm watching the Open Championship at Carnoustie right at this moment. Four hours into today's TV coverage it seems like it's only started to me, and the tournament is not half over. To people who do not play or watch golf that may sound fanatical and in fact I've laughed and examined my own obsession. I love football, for example, yet rarely spend an entire afternoon watching it on TV. I consider movies a hobby and hardly ever watch two in one day. Golf is more than than the stroke total, the pluses and minuses on a tally board. It's the beautiful landscaping that combines with imaginative engineering to give a course it's degree of difficulty. Ever ball in flight carries a tail like a comet made of tradition, honor, and memories.
Golf is not like steeply banked river, but more like a flooding stream; it pours out into other areas of life and leaves it's mark, changing the landscape on it's way. Most holes have a name, whether informally designated by patrons of the club or marked in remembrance with a permanent sign The tenth hole at Carnoustie is called "South America". The story goes, a member many years ago was to relocate to South America and was drinking heavily on the night before his departure when he passed out near the 10th green. His friends found him the next day, having missed his ship, and promptly named the hole.
Those of us who golf, or even those of us having friends with a sense of humor know that teasing is rarely mean-spirited, but it more a term on endearment. My friends and I were arguing on a long drive to play a course a few hours away, when I had had enough of the bickering and commented, "I just want to get today over with so I can get home and go to bed!" My friend Randy, who the comment was aimed at, knows that every time we play together I am going to say it again, not to piss him off, but to give him a laugh and a much needed loosening up. In fact recently I was hitting my 4th shot from a bunker on a par 5 and he yelled, "Hey Timmy. Let's just get this over with so we can all go home."
We never do hurry home. We go in the clubhouse, complaining about aching muscles, poor playing conditions, and mental lapses that have lead to our increased stroke total. Then, over a few beers we exchange the day's stories and later take them home. Some are carried from season to season, like the time Randy would not give me a 6 inch putt on the 36th and final hole of a long day, saying, "No gimmees. We're not going to get that shit started."
I might end up watching 10 or even 12 hours of TV coverage today but that's a stat that is meaningless.