Why I play golf: Ruminating at Mastick Woods

This piece was originally published on May 4, 2014. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

By Duff Kozar

We decided to strike out as a trio on a recent and thoroughly beautiful Sunday afternoon. Mister Tee was putting before the game and asking me why I played golf. Good question, T…

I explained that on some level, it was in my blood. Conditioned by years of working as a caddie for the well-heeled brutes of Northeast Ohio, I almost had no choice but to succumb to this strange game. It’s not like I come from a family of golfers; the game was just always there, an intrinsic part of my summers growing up.

Beyond that, though, I’ve found golf to be a terrific conduit for fun – the sort of revelry that grown-ass adults with the right kind of head on their shoulders never really outgrow. Mischief. Bawdiness.

While I’m trying to play with a more diverse crowd this summer (and potentially become something akin to a “good” golfer), I’ve cut my teeth on the game with a tight-knit group of guys with whom I grew up. Some have moved on and been summarily replaced in the interest of maintaining a core of four. Others, it seems, will plant their roots in Cleveland ever deeper and play the fine courses of Northeast Ohio until the end of time. They’re all good people, and our shared senses of humor really shine on the links. Golf is, in sum, a hell of a lot of fun.

But *is* that why I play?

I dunno. Why do I play golf rather than, say, tennis? Why golf when I can spend time and money becoming a better cook? Or a better writer? I mean, part of this question is about opportunity cost, sure; but the question of “why” someone does something has more to do with some unidentifiable magnetism.

To determine why we do the things we do, it seems to me that it’s worthwhile to examine a) how we change (improve) as people by doing this thing and b) how this thing impacts how and why we do other things. But even more – and getting back to my main point – is a need to understand the human relationships that are born out of these particular things.

I would say that by playing golf I’ve become a closer friend to those with whom I play (or, in other cases, a more effective employee or whatever). When my life is easing into a gentle lope many, many years from now, it’ll be the friendships I nourished on the links (and at the bar and on the road and in fair weather and storms) that will bring a smile to my wrinkled, addled face. I won’t give a shit about golf. None of this will matter to me or to them or to my children.

Why do I golf? I can’t resist the lure of good friends – old or new – and the sound of a tall Budweiser cracking open beneath a scorching Midwestern sun. But mostly the friends.

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