Good days and bad days: Golfers are incurably optimistic

2012-03-02 00:00

ONE of the biggest mysteries of the game of golf is that just when you think you have found the secret of playing well, it suddenly deserts you.

What secret, you may ask? Well, let’s say you have played two, three or even four successive rounds of golf well below your handicap. The computer has cut your handicap accordingly but you don’t mind too much because the game has become easy.

You would be forgiven for singing: “Ah sweet mystery of golf, at last I’ve found you”, and you can’t wait to play again. You have no specific explanation why you are playing so well, but who cares, it’s just so enjoyable. Of course, you know it has something to do with confidence, concentration and being relaxed.

Along comes monthly Mug Day and when you step onto the first tee after three or four great rounds your confidence is sky-high and obviously so are your expectations.

But you don’t get off to a good start and you find yourself hitting some terrible shots like a rank beginner. This is quite the opposite to the way you’ve been playing recently.

You are now hacking your way around the course and writing down big numbers on the scorecard. It’s so unexpected and very difficult to accept. What a shock to the system. You admit to yourself that this has happened before but each time it hurts just as much, or maybe more. It’s just so damn frustrating and confusing.

What has changed? You think to yourself, yes, it’s another day but you are playing on the same course at a similar time with the same clubs, the same brand of ball, the conditions are the same and you are wearing the same lucky old hat. So why can’t you repeat what you did a few days ago?

It could be that the Golf Gods don’t like overconfidence because it leads to arrogance and gloating therefore the gods find a way to bring you back down to Earth. They have deemed that after your brief period of joy, you must now go to the back of the queue and it’s someone else’s turn to play well.

The little white ball sometimes gets the better of you but golfers wouldn’t still be playing the game if they weren’t incurably optimistic.

From the 19th hole

An old man went into a hardware store and asked for a bottle of methylated spirits. The shop assistant looked at him suspiciously and said: “There’s no way I’m selling you a bottle of meths. You’ll drink it.”

“No, I won’t,” protested the old man. “I’m starting my own painting and decorating business.”

The assistant said: “I don’t believe you. You’re the old drunk who sits on the bench in the park.”

“I used to be,” admitted the old man, “but I’ve turned over a new leaf. It’s people like you who won’t let me forget or give me a chance in life.”

The assistant was suddenly overcome with guilt. “Okay,” he said. “I’m sorry, here’s your bottle of meths.”

The old man asked: “You haven’t got a cold one have you?”

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