Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alright here goes…

I am wilting under the strain. It is not entirely my fault; after all, Law school, Work, and Not Much Else, would be the title if my life was a book. Trying to find time to work on my game is difficult. Trying to find time to write for the Fine Chammy is near impossible. The only thing working in my favor is that both golf and writing are therapeutic. My perverse mind has convinced itself of their healing powers over my overstressed, overtired body. So here I am writing about golf, a game I cannot afford the time or money to play.

“Boo hoo,” you say?

Well, I only told you that to gain a touch of sympathy before I revealed something about myself. So really, here goes:

I am a Tiger Woods fan. I am more interested in watching golf when Tiger plays. I enjoy watching Tiger play in a playoff as much as I enjoy watching him lap a field. I cannot help it. I think it is awful, and I am somewhat ashamed of myself. Regardless, it does not keep me from watching him play.

Purists cannot stand that Friday coverage will show every shot Tiger takes at the expense of other players in the field, sometimes even the leaders. Not me. I love it. I would rather watch Tiger hit from an impossible lie while he is struggling than watch a guy who cannot possibly be there Sunday shoot a 63 on Thursday or Friday.

None of that makes me unusual. Most ‘golf fans’ out there feel the same way. That is why Friday coverage will show Tiger’s round at other players' expense in the first place. Just because it is usual, does not change the fact that it is polarizing. I read the columns and some of the other golf blogs out there, and I can tell that Undaunted Duffer is rolling his eyes. I might even get lifted from his links.

Despite the injury to my reputation as a ‘serious golf fan’ I have come clean. I love watching golf, but I really love watching Tiger. Anyway, he is three under with four or five to play in his first event of the year. You can bet TiVo is capturing all of it for me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Looking for #14…

I carry 13 clubs. I am currently looking for number 14.

Unfortunately, I live in Seattle. Thanks to the recent playoff run of the hometown Seahawks, our near record setting weather has become a national story. In case you had not heard, it rained for 27 straight days. There was one day of reprieve this weekend before it started raining again.

I’m not complaining (actually, that is exactly what I am doing). I have played quite a bit of golf over the last 27 days. I have raingear, and I don’t mind getting a little wet. Actually, the temperatures have been decidedly mild over the month long stretch. 50 degrees can be down-right balmy when you are constructing an arc.

What does the weather have to do with the number of clubs in my bag?

Good question. The answer is everything. Before the weather, I had to buy new golf clubs. Then I had to replace those. Eventually, I ended up with stiffer shafts and a different mix of lofts and lies than I had had previously. Playing frequently has helped me learn to hit everything, but because of the weather, I have no idea what my real distances are. I am pretty comfortable with a 7i or 6i, but for the life of me, could not even guess the difference between my 3i and 5w.

How can I justify spending money I don’t have for a golf club I might not need? Well, the real problem is that I already justified the expense; I just want the satisfaction of doing it. I want the adrenaline that buyer’s remorse brings. I want to go to the range and fight the urge to hit a new golf club over and over and over. Material satisfaction is the light at the end of my rainbow. If only it would stop raining…

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Greatest Game Ever Played

I thought that with winter lingering around most of the country/hemisphere it might be a good time to review golf books. Ludicrous as it may sound, golf books were popular items under the tree for me this year. Mark Frost’s, The Greatest Game Ever Played, found its way from the tree to my carry-on bag during my return trip. A layover and 498 pages later, and it made its way to being among my favorite books.

The book is primarily about the 1913 U.S. Open and its players. Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet are the two major characters, and Frost guides the reader through their respective careers and personal lives up to their historic meeting at Brookline. In doing so, Frost chronicles what he believes were the major events that gave birth to “modern golf.” Along the way readers are introduced to numerous personalities highlighted by the likes of Walter Hagan and Ted Ray.

Frost is an excellent storyteller. His focus throughout the book is on its characters and his ability to emotionally attach the reader to them is remarkable. The book would be enjoyable to a person with no concept of the Open or the game of golf. Frost, however, is certainly a golfer. His book, although fit for a casual reader, is riveting to anyone who plays the game.

As a golfer, reading this books lets you feel as if you were caddying or keeping score for these men. It attempts to revisit the thoughts created in a golfer by the pressure of an Open. Beyond that, it takes you off the course and into the characters’ family lives, gives insight into their professional concerns, and helps frame an understanding of the challenges they faced in forging the basis for professional golf in America. Frost tone is clear. The men and events surrounding the 1913 U.S. Open did more for Tiger Woods and the modern PGA than most realize.

Although his tone can be sanctimonious and sometimes smacks of “the good old days,” the author has a genuine appreciation for the game and its well-being both then and now. The Greatest Game Ever Played is a title that not only references a particular Open, it is a title that describes the game of golf.