Sunday, August 19, 2001

For better or worse, golf becomes family activity

        I gave my wife golf lessons as a present. So help me, it sounded like a good idea. I can't explain it, except to say it was Christmas.

        The experts say if you want to stay married, it's important to do things with your spouse. Share common interests, they say. Golf is something you can do together well into your golden years.

        So are arthritis, gum disease and limping, but you don't see anyone recommending them.

        The bad thing about your wife learning to play golf is she wants to play golf with you. At some point, she will actually expect it. And you are actually expected to say yes.

        Then what?

        Golf is not like other games. If you play it right, you walk. While you walk, you talk. You drink beer, act self-satisfied and lie about things. Lots of what you talk about, you leave on the 18th green until the next Friday. It's sort of a portable locker room. Men who have played golf with the same guys for decades will tell you the game can be secondary to the talk. Especially when they're making 6s on all the par-3s.

        Who says the same things to his wife he says to his golf buddies?

        Is this dated, chauvinistic, caveman-ish and pin-headed? Man, I hope so.

        I mean . . . what if she beats me?

        She took five lessons, five more than anyone I know ever took. She has been shown the right way to play. Plus, she's an athlete, and better coordinated than I am.

        What if, after she beats me, my regular buddies find out about it?

        I don't think I could take that.

        Worse: What if she's terrible? What if, after five lessons, her coordination doesn't count for much? It happens. Golf is not easy.

        Let's say my wife assumes her stance. Good stance. Shoulders aligned properly, clubhead square to the target.

        Nice backswing. Slow, smooth takeaway, good hip turn, nice flex in the right knee. Good follow-through: Head down, left arm straight through the ball. Just like in the magazines.

        Her 3-wood off the tee skitters about 60 yards. It flies like a mongoose. “Great shot,” I say.

        In one round, I'd commit more perjury than Al Capone. What would the experts say about that? Plus, while I'm perjuring myself, I'm exploring the horticulture and pretending not to be miserable.

        Couldn't we share an affliction instead? Astigmatism, perhaps. Liver spots, memory loss, lower back problems. Something truly communal.

        But golf? I don't know.

        “So when are we going golfing?” she says.

        (That's another thing. You don't “go golfing,” any more than you'd “go footballing.” You play golf. But, anyway.)

        “Uh, pretty soon,” I say.

        “I can't wait,” she says. “If I get good enough, I won't hold you up and we'll be able to play more often. When we go on vacations, I'll be able to take my clubs, too.”

        “That'll be great,” I say.

        This is a reason I am married 18 years.

        Contact Paul Daugherty by phone: 768-8454; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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