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  • Randy Gerlach

Why I Love Golf

Image by Randy Gerlach

For the last week the talk of the golf world, and even in the real world, has been about the state of golf and what the future of the sport will look like after the agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was announced. Seemingly every article or podcast that has come out since has been about the details (or lack thereof) of the agreement; myself included, I wrote an article titled The Most Historic Day in Golf History. Over the last week, I’ve spent time reflecting on the game of golf and why I love to play, read, and generally obsess over it. The truth is golf is much bigger than the professional game and the reasons I play have nothing to do with what I watch on TV.

The game of golf is unique in that far more amateurs play than professionals. Most people aren’t lining up to spend their weekends securing a field to play football or baseball with their friends; in fact, most Sundays are spent lining up snacks and not leaving the house while watching the NFL. Yes, a PGA Tour event on Sunday can be great to watch but I’ll take a Sunday with friends actually playing golf every time.

Like many, my dad got me into the game. It was a way to spend time together and a life skill he thought would be useful. While I grew up watching Tiger Woods and trying to imitate iconic shots like the chip on 16 at the 2005 Masters or the putt to get into the playoff with Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008 Tiger was never my only reason for playing. As I grew up and got more into other sports, I stopped playing golf. Once, I had a fit when my mom forced me to go to a golf tournament that I had signed up for (I went on to finish 3rd­ – my one and only golf trophy). After college I got back into the game as I discovered I needed something competitive to do and it was much easier to play golf than find a group to go play lacrosse.

I love golf because of the history and the natural beauty. Golf dates back to the 1400s and has a history that echoes world history. St. Andrews existed long before the United States became a country, Turnberry was used as an airfield in both World Wars, and the original Chicago Golf Club – the first 18-hole course in the U.S. – was built in 1894 the same time Chicago was hosting the Worlds Fair. Golf courses are unique places that give people the opportunity to stand somewhere and think about the historical figures that walked that ground before them. Not to mention, have you seen Cypress Point or Pebble Beach, or Augusta National? It's hard to find a more beautiful setting than green grass fields set atop cliffs overlooking the Atlantic or the most perfect grass contrasting against white sand and blooming pink azaleas. Not every course needs to be the most historical or the most beautiful place on earth but in a world where people spend very little time outside, it's hard to beat four hours outside on a golf course taking in the sights and the sounds.

I love golf because of the mental and physical challenges it presents. I’ve always been competitive and loved working to get better at something. Golf provides endless opportunities to get better and to be self-competitive. I can directly compare myself to the version of myself who played yesterday. Regardless of the total score, I know if I hit the ball better today than last week or last year. As Arnold Palmer famously said, golf is “deceptively simple and endlessly complex.”

I love golf for the relationships it fosters. As I mentioned, my dad got me into the game, we still play together as often as we can. After I took the bar exam, I took a trip to Streamsong Resort in Florida to play with him. It's a great way to go to amazing places and it's nice to know no matter what's going on in life we can talk and play golf. Golf has also introduced me to a lot of new friends. It may be a singular game but meeting new people and connecting over a love of playing golf creates a sense of camaraderie and community.

To be clear, the agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF is a considerable development in men’s professional golf but golf as a game is so much bigger than the elite level played on TV. The fact that LIV players may now be back on the PGA Tour or that the prize money may be indirectly financed through the PIF isn’t going to change my next round; I’m going to add up my shots, agonize over a missed birdie putt, and think what could have been if I just spent more time working on my short game. At the end of the day, I love watching professional golf but golf to me is about much more and nothing that happens to the PGA Tour will change that.

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