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Let us share the madness of golf

Lean forward (don't pitch over), head still (twitching), knees flexed (shaky), mind blank (my normal state). Everyone watching. Waves of schadenfreude (German: to take secret pleasure in the misfortune of others) washing over me. Ease it on back, a mighty swing, and ... doink.

Ahh, golf.

Four years ago, as I was minding my own business, a friend asked whether I played golf. My first instinct was to lie. When I answered yes, he stated his twilight-league golf team was a man short. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I now have him to blame and thank for setting me on this confounding journey.

Actually, I thank him a thousand times. Thanks, Cap'n.

It all started when I took a beginning course a few years back and got to crushing wiffle balls. However, my first time on a regular 18-hole course resulted in a score of 152, with cheating. A surprisingly poor score. Very different, the real thing.

I played maybe once every year or three after that, joining workmates needing an excuse to leave the house and drink beer outside.

I can't recall ever reading an accurate description of this game. It's a form of madness shared with a bunch of fellow sufferers. A sizeable bunch. The annual amount of money spent on golf has to rank as one of the world's larger economies.

A certain dictionary defines an addict as someone who devotes or surrenders the self to something habitually or obsessively. OK. Could include a compulsive physiological need. OK.

When we lived in trees, it was certainly adaptive behavior if you could hit your fruit target when you swung a stick. Maybe that's it. Too bad we have not been able to progress from some traits that once served the common tribal good but now don't, e.g. hitting others with a stick.

Every golfer gradually improves until they hit their wall. While you're improving, there is this great handicap system that compensates you for your horrid play and lets you compete with those who know what they're doing. I've progressed from embarrassing to very terrible to rotten stink. This year, I aspire to be just bad.

What should you do?

Treasure being outdoors in our Southern Oregon wonderland. Treasure the exercise you look forward to and need. Treasure the friends in whose company you feel comfortable debasing yourself. Treasure the 19th hole, where a restorative beverage or two with the nicest people in the world can help you laugh the afternoon away. Cherish that one shot, lofting all smiley and straight, that repeatedly brings you back to all this. Nurture the opportunity to learn new words, mostly single-syllable and audible from the other side of the course. Enjoy the new aches that tell you you've just had a grand day out.

Oh, well. At least it's expensive.

John Wurfl lives in Talent.