Caddyshack

If the title’s subtlety escaped you, let me rephrase:  I f**king love golf.

I love golf so much that I love the things I hate about it.

I love that the object of golf is to play less golf.

I love that you hit down on the ball to make it go up, swing right to make it go left, and left to make it go right.

I love the most satisfying sound in sports – the deep, clickety purr of the ball falling into the cup.

I love that in some rounds, you can’t miss, and the repeated clickety purr fools you into believing you know what you’re doing out there.

I love that in most rounds, the ball seemingly never falls into the hole, and it must’ve been the greens, a few unfortunate lip-outs, a bad caddy read, the wind, whatever.

I love how you can play awful golf all day but get lucky on a single hole – heck, just one swing – and it keeps you coming back for more.

I love golf gear, especially gear emblazoned with club logos.  Hats and sweaters and vests and rain jackets and bag tags and ball markers and shirts – my goodness, the shirts! – and belts and pullovers and golf bags and on and on it goes.

I love how I am adept at sporting logos of clubs to which I don’t belong.

I love how my own rule is that you should not sport a belt with a logo from a club to which you don’t belong.  Shirt from a course you played is one thing; belt from Pine Valley is going a little too far.

I break this rule about once a week.

I love how great golf clubs (think The Honors Course, not a 3-wood) show reverence for the game but don’t take themselves too too seriously.

I love how the best clubs exhibit a courteous informality, pour signature drinks you just have to order, and make you feel at home.

I love how golf is the great equalizer.  A big swingin’ d**k CEO staring down an 8-footer with a member-guest tournament on the line is just as nervous as the next guy, even if he won’t admit it.

Speaking of member-guests, I love club tournaments and how seriously people take them.  Some 13-handicapper all of the sudden grinds out every hole like it’s the damn U.S. Open.

I love how dudes pull off the silliest shots during club tournaments.  The joker who sails his drive O.B. off the tee but somehow manages a bogey 5/net par 4 to win the hole.

I love how golf almost perfectly reflects life.  It is hard.  It is not fair.  You catch a lucky break sometimes; other times, you get screwed.  It is euphoric.  It is disheartening.

Mostly, it is good.

I love that people play golf in the same manner they play life.  Some are fairway, green, two-putt steady Eddy types.  Others are all over the damn course, hitting shots you never thought possible, good for a birdie but just as good for a triple.

I love how seemingly simple golf is:  hit the ball in the hole.  And yet, its complexity is maddening:  clear the hips, grip firmly but softly, slow the swing down, get your clubhead speed up, don’t swing hard, all about alignment, all about tempo . . .

I love that I’d rather sit through a Del Griffith shower curtain ring sales seminar than hear someone recap their round shot-by-shot.

I love that golf is a chance to spend quality time with family.

I love that golf is a chance to escape the heck out of family.

I love that golf is outside.  I’m no nature guy, but walking a few miles outside, gentle breeze blowing, trees, water, sun, grass, some birds, a few squirrels, and I’ll be damned if I can’t hear Sir David Attenborough narrating my round.

I love how golf courses often sit on the world’s finest real estate.  In the mountains, on coasts, among rolling hills, carved out of sandy deserts.

I love how you’ll fly five hours, rent a car, drive another four hours, all to play golf in the middle of damn nowhere.  And pay exorbitant sums of money to do so.

I love how good an ice-cold beer tastes right out of the mini cooler on the cart.

Speaking of carts, I love just riding around in them.  I am hard-pressed to recall any occasion in which I’ve been in a golf cart and not had fun.

I love watching golf on TV and breaking down the broadcasts.  I could watch Golf Channel’s “Live from The Masters” on a loop.  I think the world would be a better place if we consumed all news on any issue – world politics, the economy, anything – via “Live from the Masters.”

I love that a purely-struck iron ranks up there with the best feelings in the world.

I love the one time a year when I properly execute a bunker shot, the bounce of the sandwedge smoothly gliding through sand to lift the ball up and onto the green.

I love how every other cover of Golf Digest for the past 50 years has promised to “Cure Your Slice.”  Fifty years and we can’t fix the slice!

I love the people you meet through golf.  Strangers on the first tee are best friends walking off 18.  Especially if that stranger sinks a putt to win your money match.

Speaking of gambling, is there any better venue for gambling than the golf course?  I love the stupid games and all their iterations; Wolf, Vegas, Hammer, Sixes, etc.

I love the trash talk that accompanies a good money match.  The one-liners and jokes that seem at home only on a golf course.

My favorite of late, when a long putt tracks to the hole the entire time, and sinks:  “That’s a mother-in-law putt.  I liked it as soon as it left the house.”

I love that golf provides teachable moments at every turn.  Just last weekend, I joined my wife and 11-year-old daughter for nine holes.  I played dreadfully, just horrible, and on the fourth hole, threw a wedge in frustration after skulling the ball fifty yards past the green.

My daughter looked at me disapprovingly and said, “No sir, Daddy!  No sir.”

Golf’s teachable moments are not reserved for youngsters.

I love that golf is endearing.  My fondest golf memory was as an 8-year-old at Bayou DeSiard Country Club in Monroe, Louisiana, shagging balls with my grandmother, who introduced me to the game.

After countless, unsuccessful attempts to imitate my grandmother’s fluid, effortless swing, I finally hit a ball in the air.  It may have risen a mere 15 feet off the ground, but it was soaring through the sky from my view, and I was hooked.

I love how golf makes me think of my grandmother and, when I make a putt or hit a nice chip, I wonder if she plays a part in it.

I love that today marks the first round of the annual spring invitational golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  It is the greatest event in sports.

The emerald green fairways and the super-slick greens and the knee-buckling pressure and the azaleas and the patrons and the pines and the Southern manners and the donning of a green jacket.

Watch every moment.  Take it all in.  Come Sunday evening, maybe you, too, will f**king love golf.

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