By Clair Goodwin
Special to The Globe
Golf encourages and cements friendships.
In fact, many of my friends today are those who I met on the golf course decades ago. I would guess I have more golf buddies than, let’s say, friends at the office or even in my church.
That doesn’t mean that my golf pals are any closer to me than the non-golfers, only that there are more of them as the result of the frequency of my being at the course and my constant meeting of new people through my golf column.
Thankfully those golfing friends who have had me as a partner in a best-ball or scramble don’t hold grudges. They have selective amnesia about my misadventures in the rough or on the greens.
I believe that golf friendships generally are special because they aren’t bound just by a mutual love and respect for the game, but also the exciting or humbling experiences being forced upon the participants by our failures with clubs that Winston Churchill suggested are ”ill-suited to their purpose.”
All of us, regardless of our handicaps, have lived through disappointing or uplifting experiences on our best days at the course. Some of us take the game so seriously we forget that perfection is beyond our reach and that every shot giving us renewed hope also exposes us to potential failure.
I love the game because it rewards improvement and yet always leaves us with the unshakeable belief that we could have done better. Perfection is unattainable. “If only” is the stuff of dreams for the human spirit. Still, we want to see in our minds that lipped out 10-foot putt dropping or the chunked wedge reaching the safety of the green.
I think there are so many lasting golf friendships because the game provides a series of good and bad experiences best shared with others. We can laugh at most, curse at some, regret others and smile smugly at the rest.
In my analysis, golf is the toughest, easy-appearing game ever devised to test man’s nerves under pressure, to challenge his sense of humor and self-control, and to offer infinite opportunities for making new, good friends.
As part of your post-swing routine on the first tee always have a good excuse prepared for a bad shot before you get to the first tee. You may not have time to come up with a believable one.
Never think that your bad knee or painful back comments will get any sympathy from the cold-hearted companions with whom you have just made a dozen bets. Given time, they undoubtedly could come up with excuses that would leave you in tears.
Learn to give your swing advice in a whisper. No one wants to hear it.
In perspective: The guy offering swing tips to all the other players in his group most likely has the highest handicap.