Golf, It’s Just a Game

The torch – and golf club – has been passed

January 21, 2014 

I’m old fashioned, but I keep waiting to hear Bing Crosby sing “Straight Down the Middle” to start the golfing season at Pebble Beach.

Then Andy Williams crooning at San Diego and then Bob Hope and one of our presidents tee it up in the California Desert, and then Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi whispering the arrival of azaleas and dogwoods. It’s Easter at Augusta.

All gone.

In the 1960s, President John Kennedy said the torch had been passed to a new generation. Now that generation – our generation – has passed the torch to our kids, who passed the torch to 14-year-old boys from China (Guan Tianlang) who make the cut at the Masters and 14-year-old girls from South Korea (Lydia Ko) who win on the LPGA Tour. Not only do they text – they can really play golf.

My oh my, do times change!

If you turn on the Golf Channel and catch an event being played in Dubai or Beijing or Pretoria, my suggestion is to turn off the sound and let your mind drift back to the days of the “Lone Ranger,” “Gang Busters,” Edward R. Murrow, Hogan and Snead, and the $.25 cent hamburger. The game may still be the same. The participants and the audience? That’s another story.

The good news is, if 14-year-olds can play golf so well, maybe we’ve made the game out to be harder than it really is. Maybe kids today are so good because they treat it like any other game. They learn the basics and then go have fun. Good advice for teenagers. Good advice for those of us in our 70s. Good advice for everyone in between.

In January, we watch golf, hockey, basketball, football, and the Winter Olympics. Two things stick out: money and winning. Where does having fun come in to play? If you can only have fun if you just received the winner’s check for $1,000,000, maybe you missed the point of the “game?”

This year, after you shake the last of the Super Bowl confetti out of your hair, make yourself a promise: “2014 is the year I’m going to have more fun with my golf.”

Ed Sehl, PGA teaches golf at the Tega Cay Golf Club, and was recently named in the Golf Digest top teachers in South Carolina. Email him at sehl@fmtc.net.

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