Golf. It's a game so deceptively simple, and so hard to play. It's a game that has the excitement of paint drying if you watch a tournament on TV, yet in person it has an almost Zen like quality. (I'm not the only one who has connected Zen and golf, either.)
It's golf tournament time in Endicott, NY. The Dicks Sporting Goods open is back in town, featuring PGA Champion senior golfers (age 50 and above). The lineup includes four Hall of Famers: Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Nick Price. Tom Kite was a past winner of the BC Open, back when we had a "regular" PGA tournament here in the Triple Cities.
In those days, no one ever gave away free tickets to the BC Open.
Fortunately for many of us, including those unemployed in the economy of the Triple Cities, the law firm of Hinman, Howard and Katell gave away free tickets for the second round last year, and again, this year.
Last year my spouse, who was part of the "golf is like watching paint dry" crowd (although he worked as a caddy when he was a young teen) didn't go, and I went with a friend. This year, the friend was otherwise occupied, so spouse agreed to go with me. I kept telling him "it isn't like that at all". I don't know if he was convinced, but sometimes spouses do things for love.
This year, armed with the basics I learned last year plus spouse's commentary on the game as a former caddy knows it, I had a really good time. This year, I watched the golfers putt and observed the various putters they used. I was fortunate enough to get close to holes, and close to tee-offs, and compared drivers. I observed how one golfer's clubs were covered by hand-knit covers. Made by a loving wife, or daughter or son?
It was cool, in the 60's. Birds sang. The breeze felt good on us. The sun occasionally peeked out of the clouds. The crowds, though growing, remained hushed except for applause or gasps, as a certain shot deserved. Birds sang some more. Flowers bloomed. (Augusta National this is not, but there is some nice landscaping.) There was lots and lots of walking. One of the holes is almost 1/3 of a mile long, and this is not a flat walk, either. Occasionally, flowery scents reached our noses. People murmured. Although they weren't permitted, an occasional cell phone announced a text message. You could almost touch the silence. It was pleasant. Volunteers driving golf carts on the paths politely asked people to move to the side. Other volunteers, enforcing quiet before shots, called out for walking spectators to "stand". The golfers were polite, although one golfer was visibly upset when he missed a putt close to the hole.
Tom Watson and Tom Kite both ended up in sand traps. Both very nicely got their golf balls out and back onto the green.
No pictures, as cameras were not allowed. (although, again, I saw some people taking pictures with cell phones.) But, I did sneak a shot last year, and here it is:
(as an aside, many people aren't aware that Dick's Sporting Goods began in Binghamton. Of course, like so many other employers: they left. Except for two stores.)
We left in the early afternoon, as we had to get to a farmers market before it closed (we had asked a vendor to hold something for us, forgetting all about the tournament.) We won't be back later, or back for the 19th hole partying. I want that Zen feeling to remain. Golfffffffffff..........