On a recent Saturday I was having a beer with a friend when he suddenly burst out, “I’m bored.”
My first reaction, of course, was to wonder, “How can anyone be bored while hanging out with me?” That led me to think about the old axiom my grandmother often used when I’d tell her something was boring. “Only boring people get bored,” she’d repeat, almost to the point of boredom.
Soon though, my thoughts wandered to the round of golf I had played earlier that day. After a promising opening six holes, it had gone south in a hurry. By the time my six-iron shot bounced through the 14th green and came to rest just inches from the stone out-of-bounds wall, my mental state had been reduced to a boiling cauldron of frustration. I was enraged, aggravated, furious, even mortified. But, I realized as I sat on that bar stool, I certainly hadn’t been bored.
For me, and I believe for many, one of the biggest mysteries about golf is why a game that can be so maddening draws us back again and again. The most common answer to this vexing question is that the satisfaction we derive from good golf makes all the pain worthwhile. As the character Tin Cup so eloquently put it, “A tuning fork goes off in your loins – such a pure feeling is the well-struck golf shot.”
But as I sat there with my bored friend, another explanation suddenly occurred to me. Having a golf tantrum might not be fun. Being so upset that you want to go Woody Austin on your head certainly isn’t relaxing. But it beats the hell out of being bored.
Consider, if you will, some of the alternatives to a bad round of golf:
– Catching up on household chores
– An afternoon of honey do’s
– more time shuffling papers at your stiflingly dull desk job
– hour upon hour of television viewing
Finally, consider the example of Judge Elihu Smails from Caddyshack. On the course, he missed a short putt, then threw his putter a prodigious distance into the head of an unfortunate lady who was dining on the clubhouse veranda. Sounds miserable, right?
Well, off the course he was taking requests from his wife, (the very same woman to whom Al Czervik said, “you must have been something before electricity”) to come and “loofah my stretch marks.”
Yes, being really, really pissed on the golf course sucks. But anger definitely beats boredom.