Golfland by Geoff Lewis

Via Shutterstock

I like stick-and-ball games as much as anybody else. Leaving the ball out entirely and just using the stick has panache, but bumps the odds of either an arrest or a visit to the hospital. Or both.

Golf is unique among stick and ball games. Why? It has holes, where other stick-and-ball games only have goals, hits or pockets. It seems plausible that golf evolved from shepherds smacking a stone along a rabbit run using their crook’d sticks, the goal to hit your stone into the rabbits’ warren: the hole.  Such a game could pass the long hours out in dale and pasture while dinner was grazing.

How different golf is now, lockstep with advances in ballistics, materials and equipment technologies. Modern golf course designs seek to sate modern tastes. Those tastes appear to favor a vastly simplified landscape, like the ones you might have drawn as a kid, with a crayon in your little fist. Clean lines, restful to the eye. This makes sense, since a lot of golfers aren’t really into the whole naturalist thing. They appear more soothed by a kind of teletubby landscape, with blobs of sand and water added for interest.

Nope, golf is all about getting it into that hole, hole after hole after hole, the fewer strokes the better. You’re supposed to practice stroking and admire, compliment and imitate other people’s stroking, and then struggle to stroke as little as possible when going for the hole….  Innuendo-wise, this is a drawback. For example, a golfer might exclaim uxoriously, “I triple-bogeyed* my darling wife yesterday”. Golf partner, weeping, “I shot an eagle**”.  On that topic, should golfers be encouraged to shoot eagles?  Isn’t that the national bird?  “Shanking it into the rough”, as well, is open to misinterpretation.

Mockery aside, Google Maps can get a bit alarming, when you’re scrolling around looking at land-use and see so, so many golf courses on arable land. Of course everybody’s entitled to their opinion on what is acceptable land use. An important exception would be all those people who are not born yet. Pitch-and-putts are fun, and much smaller. They are condensed golf courses with no distances over maybe 60 yards per hole. There’s a nice pitch-and-putt near where I live. It’s built on top of a landfill, decades of good times beneath. I wonder what lives down those holes?

Where’s my 9-iron?

* Triple bogey = three strokes over par. Par = the number of strokes an excellent golfer would require.

** Eagle = two strokes under par.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock.

Golfland originally appeared on Garden Rant on September 7, 2013.

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