Jeez, if I’d known that a post complaining about conditions at my club would be what it took to catapult my readership to a whole new level I would have started bitching about things a long time ago. (Note to Board Members who have recently “discovered” this blog: Just kidding. Really. Well, you know, except for that one thing that I brought up last time.)
Anyway, I seem to have struck a nerve. Or to be more precise, at least two nerves, since in addition to getting a lot of expressions of support and agreement, I did receive some criticism for having demonstrated a lack of appreciation for what it takes to make a golf course great. So, on the one hand there appears to be an almost limitless capacity among golfers below a certain level of ability to identify things or conditions they consider, if not unfair, then certainly unnecessarily difficult about the game of golf, and on the proverbial other hand (and this would definitely be the right hand of St. Andrew), there are the elite golfers who consider those very same elements to be the source of the game’s greatness.
So who’s right?
Well, in a response that I’m sure will satisfy nobody, I’m going to say that both sides are right, making this a perfect CERTS moment, a reference to the ads of the sixties in which two different descriptions, “It’s a breath mint,” “It’s a candy mint,” were reconciled in the formulation, “It’s two mints in one.” Golf is two games in one: you play it for fun, but you can also play it for achievement. It’s there for people who just want to hack around with their friends, and it’s there for those who, already accomplished at the sport, want to challenge themselves.
But it is, arguably, also the biggest tent in all of sports. On any given day, if you were to look at the people playing the various sports with which we homo sapiens amuse ourselves, and compared these different groups of “athletes” for diversity, I bet that golfers would present the widest range of age and inherent athletic ability hands down. And therein lies the problem. Unlike a ski resort that can carve out different runs on the same slope, everybody plays the same course.
Yes, there are different tee boxes, but in many instances the advantage in terms of yardage is so paltry as to be pretty meaningless. And besides, if you’re playing a good course the key difference isn’t whether you’re playing a hole that is 380 yards as compared to 410 yards. It’s how you handle all those wonderful design features that the architect has installed in and around the green. No, the problem is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to create a golf course that is going to work for everybody.
And that’s the issue at many clubs. You have different factions who have different ideas as to how a piece of real estate should be used. It can get pretty contentious. And so, to employ an analogy that I feel establishes a personal best in terms of being over the top, private clubs get to be like little Jerusalems. One faction may be in charge, but there are other groups who feel like saying, “Hey, this place is special to me too!” A solution that makes everybody happy can be as hard to find as a ….(I think you can complete this sentence).