June 9, 2009

Former Golf Detractor Plays a Round, Says He's Hooked

This story should sound familiar to many of us: guy insists golf is not a sport, it isn't that challenging because people drink beer while playing it, and that most of the top pros have beer bellies. Of course, they haven't played any golf for themselves. Once they do, they discover the truth about the game, that it's as challenging as any they've ever played and that their opponent is themself, not the other guy. They learn that golf can be a mix of poetry followed by screamed obscenities. Basically, after that first round, they "get it."

It also takes a big person to admit that their prejudices were wrong, and an even bigger one to do so in a column on one of the biggest media outlet's in the world's website. Such is LZ Granderson, on ESPN.com today:

A Golf Critic Has a Change of Heart

"Suffice it to say I'm hooked.

"I triple-bogeyed my first hole of the day. Then I spent the next 17 holes competing against an opponent I had overlooked for most of my adult life: me.

"Head down, arm straight, shoulders leveled, feet together, feet apart … at times I didn't know if I was playing golf or auditioning for Broadway.

"I never thought golf was an easy sport per se. But I have tended to snicker at the thought of Woods or Phil Mickelson ever being in a "male athlete of the year" conversation that included the likes of Dwight Howard or Rafael Nadal. I guess I was so caught up in what was lacking physiologically in golf that I overlooked the psychology."

Indeed, LZ, what you learned was something that Bobby Jones said nearly a century ago -- that the toughest yardage on a golf course are the five inches between our ears. And this is a lesson you are going to learn over and over and over yet again as you continue to play golf, no matter how good you get at the sport. That and you will never stop learning how to play this confounding and addictive game.

You'll learn that there is nothing more hopeful than a bright morning and a blank scorecard. That afterward it will be filled with tales of the good and that you will almost always be able to point to places where it could have been even better. That you will hit shots you will never forget, and that many of them will be of the variety we wish we could indeed erase from our memory banks forever. You'll find that golf will bring you great friendships and that it will at times dare the devil in you to come roaring out. You'll find yourself watching golf on television, in wonder at how easy the pros make it look, knowing how hard it actually is.

Most of all, you'll probably wish you had started playing a lot sooner than you did. That will because once a round, or once a week or month, you will hit a shot or a putt every bit as good as Tiger or Phil ever could, and it will leave you wishing you did this all day every day. It's a fundamental truth that a bad day of golf is better than any day in any office.

Golf is like that. And it's a lot more. Welcome to the club.

My only advice to you is to go find a pro and get lessons now, before you build habits and tendencies. With the pro, you'll be able to build yourself the right kind of swing from the start and you won't spend your life fighting a bad habit you'll wish you'd never picked up. Lessons are a shortcut through heartache. Trust me on this, I had a horrible slice for nigh on ten years before I found a teacher who fixed me up. By the way, he's the same guy who taught Michael Jordan, and if you want his number, I can hook you up.


  1. Really Nice post. Those beautiful, memorable shots that happen occasionally, when you least expect them have a kind of magic one doesnt' find in any other sport.

  2. This was a great story. Shared it with Mrs. Ballz and we got a good chortle out of it.

    Loved this line:

    "I shot 70.......on the front 9."



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