For a game that has a foundation built on hundreds of years of refined etiquette, it always surprises me how often the modern golfer brain farts at the end of his/her round.
Let me explain.
You’re standing on the fourth tee, it’s 155m with the green spectacularly hugging a deep lake, full of wild trout, and enormous bunkering threatening a mis-hit. And then, you did it. You flushed a seven iron, that sublime feeling of pure connection that only a regular golfer will know.
The ball, drawing professionally on a right-to-left arc plummets from the heavens to about three feet. It’s a dead straight putt, uphill and you nail it.
Does your wife/girlfriend/life partner need to hear about this later? Hell, no.
There was also those bunch of wipes and one-pointers during the Tuesday comp that absolutely hammered your chances of winning a polo shirt, or even a down-the-line ball. You lipped out five times; Bruce’s phone rang during your backswing; you didn’t drink enough water; you forgot to eat, you wore the unlucky polo again … those damn irons are just a touch over standard length, and that’s why you are pulling them into the trees.
You gonna tell her about this? Er, no.
Trust me, most women do not care about your golf. In fact, they despise you for it.
Over time and through the re-telling of thousands of rounds and near-misses … there emerges a simple truth about why your wife’s eyes glaze over each time you whine about missing that four-foot putt. It’s because you’re pathetic. She’s dreaming of another man; a more self-aware man who understands the importance of protecting the relationship – not ruining it with selfish pursuit of a sport that has not, and will not ever be, conquered by even the finest exponents of the game.
She’s looking sideways at you, but she’s thinking of a man who is self-developed enough to know this truth about the game, a man who through the careful understanding and allocation of his own energy chooses not to play golf but spend long afternoons walking along isolated beaches with you, working together on that Japanese garden; spending time with your mother; helping the teenage child with their video assignment.
This man, who she deserves, is where her mind wanders each time. Her happy place never includes a vision of you and your enormous beer belly launching through drive after effortless drive and holing snarling double-breakers from 12 feet.
Which brings us back to the golden, unspoken rule among men: do not, repeat DO NOT, bore your wife to death with hole-by-hole commentary of your golf rounds. If anything, it serves as a reminder to her about how selfish you actually are. Not only did you take six hours from our lives, now you are spending another two hours giving the commentary.
The internet now creates a platform for the oppressed. Type in the words ‘golf widow’ into a search engine, and the search results groan under a weight of dissatisfaction.
There’s the respectful websites supporting women. The Golf Widow Club on Facebook has taken the approach of slight humour, self-deprecation and a list of hobbies to help women whose husbands play too much golf.
The site’s Facebook page claims its role is: To support women who find themselves “widowed” on the weekends when their husbands golf. To promote healthy, loving marriages that include golf, romance, and friendship. To support men who golf by refraining from mudslinging and bashing, learning ways to promote compromise, and committing to creating peaceful and uplifting ways to include golf in a marriage.
There are forums, where women ponder about the obsession in a more despairing tone.
One woman, in this forum, says her husband’s one-and-a-half rounds of golf per week left her feeling resentful, especially with a new baby in the home.
One reader wrote:
“You should explain to him how boring golf is and that the only good it gets is a tan. But that is not good enough and he needs to help you with the family.”
As always, when we point out the problems we will attempt a few solutions of our own.
Solution Number 1: Limit the post-round beers. You have a better chance of being respected when the ‘you’re-playing-too-much-golf’ discussion inevitably raises its ugly head at home. And it never goes well with a few shampoos under your belt. It is already a difficult discussion without alcohol. When this discussion begins, it is helpful to use the words ‘love’, ‘kindness’ and the phrase ‘whatever supports the relationship’ as often as possible.
Solution Number 2: Give the range away. We don’t have a driving range at our home course, so no one in my neck of the woods should be offended when I say they are actually a waste of time and money, right? Practising your golf without the crushing reality of scoreboard pressure cannot be solved by monotonously hitting your six-iron for an hour. You give these hours back to the family every week, and apply limited use of Solution Number One and you’ll be right.
Solution Number 3: Be selective, not greedy. If you desire a club championship, you must act like one. Ghandi once said: ‘Be the change you want to see’. Club champions do not obsess about Tuesday stableford events in the rain at the expense of a lunch with their wife. They are deliberate in the events they play and they practice accordingly. Play a little more in the two weeks leading up the clubbies, then back off again. Turn it back on for pennant season, back it off again after.
Solution Number 4: Try and introduce your loved one to the sport. But be warned … this remedy can actually fast-track a divorce. A lot of male golfers try to introduce their wives to the sport by taking them out for a casual nine holes, then over-loading their partner with advice, frustration and swing thoughts. This is wrong. You need to introduce your wife to the other female golfers at the club; set up a few lessons with the young pro, and let her find her own way, at her own speed. If she takes it up, it will be because she likes the company of others as much as she likes to play golf with you. This creates the interest on her own terms, or not.
Solution Number 5: Don’t talk about your rounds when you get home. If she says: ‘How did you go?’ The answer should be short and succinct: ‘I played well, thanks’, or ‘I struggled a bit today, thanks’. Nothing more, nothing less.
Solution Number 6: Go to marriage counselling. This is her way of telling you your golf is the problem. Never allow this, because any counsellor who doesn’t play golf can’t be trusted. Instead, use Eckhard Tolle to your advantage: “There is no such thing as problems, there is only the Now.” Problem solved.
Reality: One of the great cliches about golf is the obsessive behaviour of men. To have a successful married life and play a motherload of golf all year should never be a battle of the wills between you and your loved one, just a carefully crafted and clever plan that has everyone’s needs met, especially yours. As we all know, as soon as you get angry on the golf course, you can kiss away any decent golf from that point. Same goes with relationships.
Got your own remedies? Share your golfing stories with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org