By Rex Vanderpool
amateurgolf.com Staff Writer
I have been married for a few years now to a wonderful woman who is genuinely supportive of my golf career. But sometimes even she thinks that my presence on the first tee on a Saturday morning is not nearly as important as my presence at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I don’t claim to be an expert on marriage but the conventional wisdom is that golf and marriage are natural born enemies. Like a cobra and a mongoose, Batman and the Joker, or Tim Herron and a salad, they just cannot and will not co-exist.
Most golfers know that when the Scots invented the game they stopped at eighteen holes because that was one shot of scotch per hole and the bottle was empty after eighteen shots. But, did anyone think to take the next logical step and ask why? Why did they want to walk around for hours in bad weather and drink a whole bottle of Scotch?
The easy answer is to make a joke, call the Scots drunks, and move on. But, I think maybe, golf’s inventor was being nagged by his wife one day to stop sitting around the hovel and go outside and get some exercise. So, he simply invented a really slow game played outside with a lot of walking that isn’t finished until an entire bottle of scotch has been consumed. This way he was properly lubricated to return home to his wife.
The seemingly simple solution for us married guys is to simply teach our wife to play the game. We think: “I will be able to play more golf since we will be doing something together.”
If you have a good relationship I believe it can work. But gentlemen, do not attempt to teach your wife to play. Like a 20 handicapper over a six footer to break 90 for the first time, failure is assured. I guarantee you will be fighting faster than Nick Price’s backswing.
It is important to remember that the reason that you’ll fight isn’t that either of you are bad people. It’s just that learning to hit a golf ball from scratch is very, very difficult. It is a humbling, ego-crushing imbalance in your relationship. The fact that you can do it and she can’t that will surely fan the flames of rage.
Fortunately the solution is simple. Most courses and driving ranges have beginner group lessons and many have ones specifically for women that are reasonably priced and a great place to get started. Guys, just imagine if we could pay someone fifteen bucks an hour to take our place in a regular argument with our wives. I promise you there would be a line of husbands out the door and around the block at every driving range in America. Trust me, it is money well spent.
Next, don’t make the mistake friends of mine have made and go right out and buy your wife a full set of beginner clubs. Like giving a fish a bicycle, it is completely useless. If she doesn’t stay with the game they become yet another piece of junk taking up space in the garage that she won’t let you get rid because “we might need them someday.” Or, if she really takes to game and gets serious about it those inferior weapons will all need to be replaced. Just buy a few name brand clubs.
I suggest a 7-wood, 7-iron, wedge, and putter. This will get the job done for her to learn the basic shots of the game, the full swing, the chip, and the putt. They will also get her around most any executive course when the time comes. Also remind her that a 7-wood makes an excellent bug squasher.
Do encourage her natural interests and understand that the satisfaction and enjoyment you get from golf is different from how she will experience the game. My wife owned new golf shoes and a new golf outfit before she owned a single golf club. This made her happy. It made my head hurt. I can take an aspirin.
Another example is my mother who enjoys the game based upon how many and how well spaced out the restrooms are around a particular course. Remember that just because a $5 Nassau is the reason you get up in the morning doesn’t mean she’ll like to compete or will delight as you do in beating your friends on the course for free drinks after the round.
As time goes by she will narrow the gap in skill between the two of you and then and only then will your helpful tips and advice be welcomed. The difference then is that you will be on a more even level and can discuss the game as peers. Instead of her getting mad at you for being bossy and condescending and you getting mad at her for not listening and doing what you are saying correctly, you can now just simply have a conversation about golf the way you do with any of your current golfing buddies.
Over time if nurtured the game can become an integral and important part of your relationship. There are a lot of life lessons to be learned from golf. Whatever personality defects and inner demons we all have will expose themselves on the links eventually, and if you and your wife can learn to play a mixed twosome tournament at your local club together and are able to speak to each other afterwards at dinner then your marriage is well on its way to your 50th anniversary.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.