I’ve been at this blog thing for more than 5 years now and in that time, my opinions and beliefs towards golf have changed somewhat. I didn’t always want to change my opinion on things (and was very reluctant in some instances) but overtime, I did indeed change.
Now don’t get me wrong, my overall ethos has remained relatively intact: That golf should be about having fun. But what’s changed is the length to which I’ll go to ensure I have that fun. I’d like to explain, but feel it’s prudent to provide some historical context first…
As I type this, I’m 40 years old. Let’s rewind about 23 years – I’m a senior in high school and playing varsity golf (not that we had a JV squad or anything, but if we did, I most likely would have been on it instead).
Despite being a less-than-stellar player, participating in organized golf from a young age taught me two important things: To respect the rules and your fellow golfers. Thus, it was no surprise I carried both of those virtues with me into my adult golfing life. I loved golf and eventually decided to go on a quest to play every public 18-hole course in my state (you can read about that HERE).
The quest put me on some very nice, upscale golf courses, that average hacks like me typically wouldn’t dare step foot on. It made me think: “What a waste – where in the rulebook does it say bad golfers can’t play good courses?” So it was this that really caused me to embrace the whole “play for fun” mantra.
This ideology was carried into the creation of this blog, where I (along with Stinky Golfers Chris, Pete & Tom) embarked on a new quest to re-educate the average golfer that it was OK to be, well…average at golf. Yet even though I was saying something rather revolutionary to the majority of golfers, I still kept in check certain things such as the rulebook and (what I felt was) the integrity of the game.
I scoffed at things like game-improving equipment. Non-USGA-conforming golf balls? Blasphemy! Illegal drivers and putters? That’s cheating! Fifteen-inch holes? What a joke! All the while I still took my mulligans, gimmies and roll-overs out on the course. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?
Things began to change however when I interviewed David Felker, CEO of Polara Golf. Now Mr. Felker didn’t say anything particularly profound, but he helped put things in perspective for me: Why should average golfers be held to the rulebook of the USGA (an organization whose mission is primarily to rank the best golfers in the country)?
Golf is a simple game – hit a ball with a club until it goes in a hole. Now I understand that if you’re talented enough to win tournaments, then you might want to play the game professionally – and for that, you need to play by the pro-tour’s complicated rules. But for the rest of us, is there no relief?
By and large, we should be able to play the game with whatever rules we see fit. Allow mulligans or don’t. Allow gimmies or don’t. Allow non-USGA-conforming equipment or don’t – it doesn’t matter as long as your playing partners are all following the same guidelines.
And contrary to what you might think, none of this diminishes the integrity of the game – not even 15-inch holes do that. The integrity of golf remains intact simply because so many bad golfers love playing it.
In my post last week, I show how accepting I am in doing whatever it takes for people to have fun playing this game – and though it took nearly 5 years of blogging to open up my mind to this way of thinking, I’m ultimately glad I was re-educated.