Friday, June 13, 2003
This morning, like each of the past several days, my morning Metra train ride was spoiled by a crowd of loud, obnoxious, smelly people.
Who are they? The minions traveling to see the U.S. Open Golf Tournament taking place this week in Olympia Fields, Illinois. Each day the Randolph Street station is packed to the gills with highly-cologned, polo-shirted, baseball-capped cell phone junkies who all have to yell at each other across the waiting area and the train aisles. Every one of them is either reading the Tribune sports section, USA Today or using their cell phones to spread the word of the latest birdies and bogies to their buddies around the country. At least the ones with Blackberry™ PDAs are relatively quiet, tapping away insanely at their minature keyboards.
Golf in the abstract is an interesting exposition of skill and triumph over the laws of physics, but it's pretty dismal as a social institution. My main ideological beef with golf is that it seems to be a boring, elitist game for the idle rich.
I know, I know...that sounds like a simpleminded generalization from someone who probably couldn't hit a brick building with a 9-iron.
You'd probably be right. I was always the laughing stock of the local mini-golf putting greens: those windmills and fountains would silently chuckle at my 10-stroke par-3 bumbling. On the other hand, there are some acceptable forms of golf, like Canadian Boat Golf.
Canadian Boat Golf is usually played in the dark, from camps or cabins along the shore of a lake or inlet frequented by Jet-Skis™ or recreational craft. The trick is to use your sense of hearing to hone in on the trajectory of the "hole" - i.e., the boat - and to swing at precisely the right moment to hear a loud clunk or crash, followed by choice curses from the boat occupants shortly afterwards. The final step is to hide silently far from view when the flashlight shines on shore. Now that's golf.
I'm sure there are some poor ghetto children somewhere being brought to the links by some wealthy socially-minded benefactor. But by and large, golf is for those who can call their assistant down at the office and say, "hold my appointments for the afternoon - I've got a business meeting with three very important people, *snicker snicker*".
Louis XIV would have probably played golf if it weren't too hot under his wig in the sun.
It's not a game for the minimum-wage, swing-shift working class Joes and Janes of the world. That's what baseball and basketball are for. You can learn to become a great player on the local basketball court with a ratty old Wilson ball your brother gave you and a cutoff t-shirt. You can become the next Sammy Sosa or Willie Mays with only a pockmarked Louisville Slugger, a sharp eye and a strong swing. At least theoretically.
Now those are games that sing - games with soul. There's plenty of baseball and basketball movies around. How many golf movies are there? Happy Gilmore and The Legend of Bagger Vance? Okay - Caddyshack. That was a good golf movie. But it says something that the majority of golf movies are comedies, not dramas.
I shouldn't complain, but it is Friday the 13th - and I feel somehow legally obliged to.