By John Morrow

When I was a kid, we had barely heard of golf in my neighborhood. We knew it was a game played by Arnold Palmer and doctors and lawyers on Wednesday afternoons. It really wasn’t part of my world.

But by the time I retired I knew that many people played, and that golf was what retirees do. So I bought a set of clubs. Luckily the thousand-dollar set looked just like the ones for $129, so I chose the latter.

I’m not much of a lesson taker and decided instead to rely on the expertise of friends to guide my progress. I memorized and repeated their advice like a monk reciting his mantra: keep your head down; follow through; are you sure this game is for you?

After missing one particular shot, my golf buddy admonished me again and directed me to “Keep Your Head Down.”

Buddy: You keep your head down. I’ll watch the ball, I’ve got you.

Me: Eye on ball, head down, swing, thwack.

Buddy: I lost it.

This was probably my fault. From past experience I know he doesn’t see well enough to distinguish a golf ball from a wounded squirrel at 50 yards. Now I just try to sneak a peek to get some idea of where to begin my search.

One day, I didn’t have the highest score in the group. I didn’t finish last. Wow! That’s progress, I thought. But what does a golfer need to get to that next level?

TV infomercials provided the answer. There are gadgets to correct your slice, to add 20 yards to your drive, and to make 17-foot putts so simple a child could sink them. Many are available for three easy payments of $49 (if you act right away), but so far, nothing has significantly improved my scores.

A friend wears a watch that uses GPS to tell the exact distance to the hole before each stroke. We started relying on this miracle of technology like ancient Greeks trusted the Oracle at Delphi. And yet, we are still long or short by 25 yards much of the time. There must be a problem with that watch, I figure.

Sometimes my golf ball strays from the fairway and rolls over the edge of a ravine. My mates hear my cry of, “I think I can see it,” followed by, “There’s another one,” as I disappear over the edge, lured further and deeper into the abyss by the promise of golf ball treasures. My companions wait patiently until eventually my head is spotted rising above the lip of the precipice. I’m sure I’m swelling with pride as I display my prize: a handful of dirty, used balls. Although most are cut and damaged, a couple might be usable once they are cleaned up.

The other day my game was going quite badly. The ball would not go where I was willing it to go. My score was climbing faster than my blood pressure. I was ready to toss the clubs into the pond and enjoy watching them sink out of sight. But then, on the last hole of the day, I chipped, then sank a 20-foot putt. “Okay,” I yelled, pumping my fist in the air, “I’ve got it figured out. Let’s book another tee time for tomorrow.”

John lived in Port Stanley in the ‘60s and moved back 10 years ago after retiring from a career in education. You can find him most mornings sharing coffee and wisdom with friends at a local coffee shop. John enjoys writing about the humour he sees in everyday life.  

Read other columns by John Morrow.