A Test of Integrity on a Field of Green
My Early Years
There was a time in my life when playing golf was something I enjoyed tremendously. I started learning golf as a child every Sunday at our nearby country club, practicing my swings with my father at the driving range and receiving lessons from the local pro. I remember using a shortened 5 iron to swing with until I was old enough to practice with my first set of clubs. After each practice came the best part of the day, grabbing a huge, greasy burger at the driving range cafeteria and downing it with a cold fizzing bottle of soda.
When I grew older, I started playing with my brothers on the junior golf course that our club reserved for children and new players. It was a less challenging course than the one reserved for all the experienced players, but my brothers and I didn't mind at all. Each day at the golf range was like an outdoor field trip for us where we could run past rickety wooden bridges, jump over streams and play with all of the living creatures of the field. The caddies who watched over us and who were assigned to carry our clubs spent more time chasing after us than they did from teaching us about the rules of the game or how to play it..
Playing golf was never a serious game for me in those years, it was the one reason I had to get out of my boring home life as computers weren't invented yet and neither were cell phones and color television. I remember spending several summer vacations at the golf course with just myself and a caddy making the rounds while all around me life seemed to carry forth unceasingly. Those were my most memorable days as a child, I still recall walking through the fairways in the early mornings, enjoying the newly watered and well manicured fields of grass and the occasional patches of rough as my caddy and I searched for my driven ball. I loved wandering through the lawns of grass as a child, early in the mornings they still felt cool and damp before the sun would emerge high enough in the sky to start burning our backs and exposed skin. Even now when I think of playing a round of golf, it is these memories and childhood reminiscences that inspire me the most about the game.
Will You Cheat With Me Or Not?
After college, I spent fewer days playing golf and more time involved in building up the family business. Golf was often used as an excuse to meet with business associates and to conduct negotiations. Gone were the days of childhood innocence and fun, replaced as they were with a new type of battlefield in which golf was used to measure one's opponent. It was at this time in my life that my father said something about golf that forever changed my perspective about the game. He said, "Playing golf is a test of one man's integrity which he openly displays for every other player to see and judge." I knew by these words he was referring to the manner in which a golfer conducts himself during a round as there are many times when he is confronted with the prospect of cheating in a game.
Cheating in golf takes on as many forms as there are players. It can consist of something as simple as one player miscounting the number of strokes in a game, or in a hole, to a player's surreptitious placement of the ball in relation to the hole to a player's stated handicap. Every player who cheats at golf does so knowing that he can easily be seen or observed by other players. As numerous are the ways of cheating in golf, it is no wonder that everyone who plays is faced with one compelling question: "Will you cheat with me or not?" I found the easiest way around that question was to play as honestly as one could, watching oneself as conscientiously as possible while ignoring the actions of others, no matter how big a violator or cheater they were.
In addition to other business techniques and practices, I remember that both my father and I used golf to size up a person's character. It was amazing how much is revealed during golf conservations. Some of these talks were from people who were superficially dishonest while others were from extremely dishonest and downright dangerous characters. I cannot say that it worked all the time, but when applied together with additional knowledge that one had of someone else, it was more than enough to establish a starting point from which to judge someone. After a few years of playing golf with other club members, we learned to avoid certain players. Pretty soon, we just did not speak to them at all.
A final turning point came when the golf club started attracting the super rich people. The country club had an enormous face lift. The locker rooms became air conditioned, there were separate rooms for politicians and their associates and membership prices became prohibitively expensive. What turned me off was the treatment of the staff and the caddies. I knew it was time to leave.
I stopped playing golf several years ago due to a horrific attack of gout. Now that I am retired and feeling a lot better, I still wave off friends who invite me to play a round with them. Every time I think of teeing up with friends, I am reminded of that question, "will you cheat with me or not?" and the ugliness inherent in the conduct of the game threatens to come forth.
I don't want to know the answer.
In storage, waiting to be called on
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Do you cheat at golf ?
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© 2018 Gregory Floro