Imagine if you are of a certain age, and you now have time to take up golf. You can play in the middle of the week, and you take a few lessons, read some golf magazines, and you find a group of guys at your general skill level. All four of you take to the course as often as you can, and you poke the balls out there, never in the middle of the fairway, but into the thick stuff, only the thick stuff at Hype is only 2-3 inches deep, very forgiving. None of your clustered eight eyes see beyond general trajectories. One of you who may have been in the artillery during ‘Nam (not Korea, as you clearly are still walking), adds in wind into the general calculus. So after you hit your tee shots, and until you get on the green, the rate limiting step of your round is finding the golfball.
The artillery guy waves his hands towards the bushes ahead, or to the cart path to the right or to the unconscious old guy to the left, and starts his partners on their mission, which now no longer is golf, but rather a gruesome easter egg hunt. I can hear their joints cracking across the fairway as they rustle about the rough. There is no glee in the dour faces of these gentleman, but rather the serious, searching squint of hunter-gatherers looking for their next meal. I do get it, as for these guys, the finding of balls, and not necessarily of their own balls, but of more balls, is basically the only reward they get as I have rarely seen any of these guys putt out -it’s a potlatch of plenty on the greens as they bestow five to ten footers to each other after spending five minutes each squinting and plotting their lag putts. Of course, there will always be one who insists of putting out, but he will spend five minutes on the one footer as well as the thirty footer.
Imagine this multiplied by five or ten, and all of these fine men are hunting and gathering for balls, calculating and fussing over putts that they might make once a year, and never holing out which is the point of stroke play.
Imagine this whole bunch unmarshalled and unregulated. They can’t see the group waiting behind them, and because they keep running into the group ahead, they assume that golf is always slow.
And that is fine. They are experiencing golf in their own way. They are experience the joy of the wandering search. The fine air, the cool breeze, how many of these days do we have left to us? We don’t know but we know they are finite.
I am happy they have their place to play at golf and at golf ball hunting. And I am glad to know where these people are.