Sunday, October 26, 2008

Golf and the four letter word

By Gaurav Parab

Arthur Daley once quipped that Golf is like a love affair. If you don’t take it seriously, it is no fun. If you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart.

These lines, to a large extent, reflect my flirtatious relationship with Golf. The delightful temptation of a Sunday afternoon round after a routine week at school, the stolen glance at my father’s Golf clubs, the sinful invitation to open up and swing through, and the devastating heartbreak of a ball sailing out of bounds.

To every grown up or disinterested child, man or woman, who has spent long brooding moments planning a approach shot in his/her head, the high of an unassuming small ball hitting the sweet spot of an expensive stick masquerading as a titanium insert high performance club is perhaps one of the most unadulterated highs life has to offer.

I distinctly remember my first encounter with Golf. It was back in ’97, when my mother commented that maybe dad should take up golf. She had her motives. The Sunday afternoon parties at the Golf Course for members and spouses were legendary.

For my father, who had always been excellent at ball games, Golf was unknown territory. Too made up and fake even for television. So more out of amusement than anything else, he got an old Seven Iron and a discarded Putter from a golfing friend. We then took a walk down to my school’s massive athletic compound to try out a few swings.

I stood at his side, about ten feet away, curious about the whole event. He slowly took his stance, ball between his feet, the Seven Iron waiting to be unleashed - just as we had seen on Television. He swung, and to our surprise he completely missed connecting with the ball. He looked up at me and we both smiled at each other. It was a love at first sight.

Mom gained a golfer, she lost a devoted husband.

It wasn’t long before home became the place to sleep at, the golf course was the house where life was lived. Such was the lure of the mistress. The Government tried its best to end the affair by moving us between places like Belgaum, Lucknow, Calcutta, Bikaner and Mhow.

Each town had a Golf course. Trust the Government to put out fires, by pouring oil into them.
So what makes Golf the religion it is for those who practice it? What drives successful corporate executives who have no moments to spare spend long Sunday hours at the Golf course? What drives world beating sportsmen who only swear by their own sport, to make a special exception for Golf? What drives proud soldiers across nations to take up this silly harmless slow sport of hitting a ball into a hole in the least possible shots?

The popularity of the game, as someone wise once said, is because it is the best game in the world to be bad at.

In Golf, you don’t compete against opponents; you don’t compete against the wind, the elements, the uncut rough or the strategically placed bunkers. You fight against your biggest enemy, you take on yourself. You perhaps take on life.

The five inches between your ears are the course. The thoughts that run through your mind the obstacles. The noises that you let through as you line up for a shot, the water hazards you need to avoid.

The brilliance of the sport probably lies in the conflict that it brings about in the player’s mind. While being physically fit certainly helps, most amateur Golfers don’t necessarily set the world of 6 pack tummies and bulging muscles alight. The unique handicap based scoring system also contributes to the popularity of the game, as newcomers can take on old hands almost from day one.

But more than anything else, golf occupies a unique place in every golfer’s heart because it is life simulated over 18 holes. You do well if you are positive before every shot - just like the tasks one has to undertake in life. You fluff a shot if you look up quickly after connecting with the ball, just like in life when you lose by losing focus. You miss the green, if you take the wrong club out of the bag – just like life’s missed opportunities when we walk through the wrong doors. You excel if you have the right caddie, like with the right friends you make to help you through life.

Golf, to describe it simply is a four letter word. It is spelt L.I.F.E


Anonymous said...

"Golf and the four letter word" has made me fall in love with Golf. Having never set a foot on any Golf course I m now compelled to spend this Diwali holidays trying my hand at this game called L.I.F.E.

Maybe my wife ends up gaining a golfer and loosing a husband.

Take care and wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali.

- S

Anonymous said...

you made me to seriously take up golf in the near future... I wonder how people manage to find time for such a time consuming game(u thinking about patience??) ...which's the reason why I said "in the near future"...
neways, wish u & ur family a happy diwali...


Anonymous said...

Golf is just rich-man's Carrom. It is just a status symbol - just as the rich want to drive a Merc or BMW while another car would be just as fine, they show off their wealth by "playing" golf - for all practical purposes a brisk morning walk could be much healthier.


Anonymous said...

Damn good. You couldn't have worded your feelings better.

-Lt Col TA Srinivas

(From MSN India, where Golf and the four letter word is the Editor's pick of the day )

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Lovely. Nobody could have put it better


(From MSN India, where Golf and the four letter word is the Editor's pick of the day )

Anonymous said...

Gaurav has put into words the feelings of all amateur golfers, Congratulations on a piece well written.


Shreya said...

Who are these people who read your blog? I am commenting here so that they find their way to mine ;)
Anyway, how are u? I am glad you get the time to blog while in B-school. And to play Golf. Damn good.

Gaurav Parab said...

@ Shreya.

A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Even if she is as beautiful as you are.

( this should get you some hits)

Anonymous said...

First of all, congratulations on the Editor's Pick of the Day!

I have always been baffled by these stories. You wonder how somethin as innocuous as Golf can destroy relationships! I thought it was all media generated content. Again, Blogs=Media :P

I think I should take it up the same time my (future) husband does. Nothing like a little spice in life. Of course I am talking about the free lunches (and keeping an eye on him!)


Paladin said...

Now I understand about the phrase "Curiosity killed the cat". I'm from Belgaum and I was wondering if your dad is from Army!! Cos the golf course is in the army area!!

Gaurav Parab said...

@ Paladin

Bingo Watson. Dead on.