Aug. 29, 2022

Golf and Writing: It's All about Balls

Perhaps it's odd that I enjoy both writing AND golf, since the two pastimes have almost nothing in common, unless you're the kind of writer who imagines that his pens and pencils are tiny golf clubs and you use them to putt little paper wads around your desktop.

This nothing-in-common epiphany came to me the other day when I was out on the golf course with my buddies Jerry, David, and Mike. We've been golfing together since we were teenagers. And as I was striding down the ninth fairway, two thoughts came to me. The first was: 'Why are you striding down the fairway? Your ball is definitely NOT in the fairway. It's almost NEVER in the fairway!'

The second thought was: 'I've been golfing for fifty years. In all that time, I haven't improved one iota. In fact, it's entirely possible that after fifty years of play and practice, I have actually gotten WORSE!'

And that's when I thought about how different writing seems to be. Fifty years ago, I loved to write. I wrote a lot. And some of it was okay. But much of it was pretty rough. Yet, I kept at it, and over the next five decades, I got better.

Unlike golf, where, like I said, I got worse.

But that, I discovered, was only the beginning of the differences between writing and golf. Writing, for instance, is often done alone, whereas golf is done with friends. I can't imagine going to the local coffeeshop with my three best writing friends, stepping to the counter and saying, 'Hi, we've got a foursome reserved for 9:00.' And then sitting at a table, each of us writing our own novels for two hours, after which the writer with the lowest word count buys drinks.

Another thing: With writing, there's no dress code. I went to a new course with a friend one time, and when we checked in at our tee time, the clubhouse manager pointed out that I was wearing a t-shirt. 'Not JUST a t-shirt,' I corrected him. 'My LUCKY t-shirt.' The manager, however, pointed out that it might not be as lucky as I imagined, since there was a dress code at this swanky establishment that required all golfers to have shirts with a collar. Then again, perhaps it WAS lucky, noted the manager, for the pro shop in the clubhouse had polo shirts with collars on sale, starting at $50. Lucky for HIM, I guess.

But with writing, it doesn't matter what you wear. You can lounge around the house in pajamas or sweat pants from when you were in high school, or your underwear. And no one forces you to wear a collar. Unless you and your partner are into that sort of thing.

Plus, with golf, you use these tiny little balls. In writing, on the other hand, completely the opposite. You've got to have massive balls, no matter your gender, to put your writing out there in front of other human beings. It's like baring your soul, and you're facing possible total, crushing evisceration. If you have that kind of courage, you've got freakin' iron balls big enough to inspire Miley Cyrus to sing about 'em.

So writing and golf could not be more different.

Well, except in one way, I guess. I spend a lot of time in the rough in golf. And a lot of time poring through rough drafts as I write. So I'll give golf and writing that one.

But you'll have to excuse me now. I believe this blog entry is finished. I'm just about ready to hit the 'PUBLISH' key.

And I can hear Miley getting ready to sing.