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Dan Sollom | Golf: an easy game that is hard to play

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If you play golf just a handful of outings a year, the expression that golf is an easy game that’s hard to play may not make much sense, because the game will always seem hard for the amateur that dusts off the sticks and plays the obligatory round with buddies just two or three times a year.

Golf takes work if you want to improve your skills, and that translates to playing the game more than once or twice a month. On the other hand, if you play two or three times a week and you’re an average player, you will have that occasional round when everything works the way it is supposed to. Your tee shots are long and down the middle, mid-irons feel perfect and your short game is on fire. At the end of that special round, your scorecard displays that magic number that starts with a seven or maybe even a six. But can you repeat that low round the very next time out?

Take for example one of my golf buddies. I’ll call him Lew (Card.) A few weeks ago, Lew shot the low score of his life: a 78 at Highlander Golf Course. Lew even displayed that score on his Facebook page. Looking at his photo displaying the scorecard, it was easy to see how proud and excited he was. The very next day, while still basking in the glow of a sub-80 round, Lew fired a smooth 90 on the same golf course not even 24 hours later.

When it’s working, it’s an easy game. When it’s not, golf is hard to play. And it’s frustrating when the wheels come off. I experienced the same type of heart breaking letdown recently while preparing to play in a three-day Ryder Cup type format tournament in the Spokane area with 11 buddies from Montana. The week prior while practicing for the tournament, I scored five consecutive low rounds, two of which were in the 70s. I was absolutely ready to take on 11 other guys in this fun but competitive event. We played three different courses over three days. I scored 92, 92 and 93. I’m just happy I didn’t have any sharp objects in my golf bag. I could not be sure that I wouldn’t harm myself.

But while competing to win in that event, I quickly realized that being with the guys is really more important than the score. I heard myself saying stupid things out loud like, “I’m glad I don’t depend on this game to eat,” or “Has anybody found my swing? I think I lost it three days ago.” In the end I have to be satisfied in the knowledge that I indeed have the ability to play a low round once in a while. But more importantly to me, I have the opportunity to play with people that provide more joy and happiness than the score itself. Twelve of us sharing 54 holes and celebrating one another was the real prize.

Golf has always been an easy game that is hard to play. The same could be said about life too, I guess. But the game of golf has very clear and specific rules, and within a matter of hours, you know your score. Life, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated, and it is indeed even harder to play and play well. So I will continue to endeavor to find joy in the relationships nurtured while trying to keep the lugnuts tight and laugh out loud when the game is laughing at me. Play well, friends!

See you on the first tee.