On Mondays and Fridays, I engage in the most strenuous activity of my current, mostly sedate, life. I ride around in a golf cart and (often ineffectively) take swipes at a little white dimpled ball that threatens no one. I do not do this alone. No, an activity like this requires that I have comrades doing likewise so I do not feel like a lone figure of insanity and clumsiness.
Let me introduce you to my fellow
If you have watched a golf game on TV, you have an idea what the game is about. But that game only approximates what I and my associates play. The rules are the same (though we "fudge" on a few for expediency's sake), the goal is the same, but the form and the scores wildly differ. Also the clothing. The pros you see on TV are dapper and smartly dressed. We are, shall we say, less so. Golf is usually played in groups of 4, called "foursomes". Sometimes, these foursomes only have 3 players. Our golf "league" usually has 12 to 16 players at any one time during the summer, in the winter it might swell to 32 or more.
Joey is the "anchor" of our group. He is technically not in charge, nor did he organize it. Still, Joey runs it more or less. Joey is a guy in his 70s, a robust, athletic, and fit man. He describes himself as 6'5" but is disguised as 5' 5". While most of us wear shorts and polo shirts, Joey has a skin condition that requires he protect himself from the sun. So he wears long sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves on both hands. If I did that, I would be carried off the course by the 6th hole with heatstroke. He is a funny guy, so he tells us, and tells us the same jokes repeatedly. Since he has enough of them, and we are all getting senile, we can laugh at them each time. Joey is always in the lead foursome.
Pat is the power hitter. He is a big Irish ex-Marine and former real estate broker. He can hit the ball almost as far as the pros do. His problem is one of direction. Playing in his group means visiting places on the course (or fairly near it) that you would not otherwise realize existed. It is a good thing he is good natured and has a healthy sense of humor. Otherwise, I might be dead, crumpled up somewhere in the denser rough of some golf course. He almost always plays out of the same cart as Joey.
Jack is the other first group player. Jack is an ex-Army colonel and my brother-in-law. The former a fact you cannot ignore due to the numerous decals on his Cadillac, the logo on his golf bag, and the style of the head covers on his clubs. Not to mention his hats. This means he barks orders and treats the rest of us as subordinates. He is a great guy to be around, however, unless he is playing badly. In which case, you might want to be at some other course. He is often located by the "blue cloud", as we call it. He is, after all, the most prolific of those who engage in profanity. He does not simply talk to his ball, he orders it around the course in much the same way a drill sergeant marches his recruits. On the other hand, he also has a decent sense of humor and does not mind a little teasing now and then. Golf humbles us all, it seems. He is a good player and plays a "draw" that any sane person would call a "hook". He never wears shorts. I suspect he is ashamed of his bony knees.
And, then, there's me. I am the shortest hitter of the group. I blame that on the collision I had in 1990 where my little Mitsubishi Mirage found itself crumpled after a large Buick blocked its path. A story which will likely be told at another time. In truth, it is because I am not athletic. Never have been. I played Little League baseball only one season, at age 8, never played a full game and was relegated to right field when I did play. I also never got a hit, or walked, or even struck by a ball (except the one which hit me on the head while I played right field). I was the last kid picked for whatever sport. On rare occasions, I surprise myself and hit the ball well.
If not for golf, I would sit around doing little beyond tapping away at this computer or watching some documentary on TV 7 days a week rather than 5.
Some terminology of interest, perhaps:
Rules of Golf - The permissible things you can do to advance the ball, strictly adhered to in professional and sanctioned amateur events. Very loosely followed by the average golfer. These rules are determined by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and are revised and published each year in a little book which is not carried by the average golfer, thereby allowing him to fudge as often as needed.
Slice - When a struck ball veers to the right (when struck by a right-handed player) in a shape resembling a banana.
Fade - A gentle and slight movement to right. Or what the average golfer calls what is actually a slice.
Draw - A gentle and slight movement of the ball from right to left.
Hook - A strong and large movement of the ball from right to left.
Duck hook - Even worse.
The rough - The less mowed area of the golf course, also including trees, bushes, snakes, rats, brambles, and the place most often visited by the average golfer.
The fairway - The well mowed area of the golf course between the teeing area and the green. This would be the area far to the left or right of the average golfer.
The teeing area - Where shots go astray.
The green - The tightly mowed area at the end of the fairway where the hole is to be found. It is sometimes fronted by the pond or lake where the ball will undoubtedly end up, most golfers will see it on the other side of the trees they are behind after hitting the ball from the teeing area.