I guess it’s fair to say I’m an avid golfer. I didn’t take it up until my 20s – I mostly skied, biked and played hockey and tennis as a teenager, and played on the Tennis and Squash Teams at Vassar. But I got pretty crazed about golf as soon as I started, and I probably averaged three dozen rounds a year until I was about 50. I even bought a condo (developed by Jack Nicklaus) at St. Andrews in Hastingson-Hudson, New York, joined the adjacent St. Andrews Golf Club, and spent much of my 30s enjoying the country club lifestyle… being able to get out of the house without waking anyone early in the morning and walking down to the tee, always having a convenient place for lunch or dinner or to entertain, and always having friends around. And for three of the years I lived at St. Andrews, I had a business called Par-Tee Bag, that started by giving out gift bags at private golf clubs to members and guests at club and charitable outings, and that gave me the chance to play about 90! rounds a year with entree at just about every great course in the region.
But with golf, I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie more than the competition. And while I got down to a 9 handicap once, when I was playing an awful lot (and that cost me, betting with my buddies), I really seem forever doomed to shoot in the high-80s. I never got into how other guys at the Club, no better than I, got focused on every Club tournament like it was the U.S. Open. That old saw about ‘shooting my age’ is more a question of how long I live than my golfing ability, and I understand my only chance to make the Tour is as a spectator.
Sometime around my 50th, I realized that I liked to play golf, but really loved the walk, the scenery, and the company. I was somewhat burnt out on golf for golf’s sake, and just crossing courses off the list of those I’d yet to play. I dropped my membership at St. Andrews and started to play only a handful of rounds a year. The fun was mostly about who I was playing with – and because most of my friends who golf belong to private clubs, and play almost exclusively at those clubs, there’s really not that much of an opportunity (and particularly without a membership at a private club and the ability to take my turn as host) to just arrange a game on a given Saturday, no less fight the queue at the local public courses to play any more regularly.
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