Golf Article

Curing Your Golf Malaise

Curing Your Golf Malaise

By Peter Hellman


Playing golf on the same course time after time has its advantages.  One advantage is that one's knowledge of the course gets better and skills needed to void hazards, O.B. and distractions (twenty-something cart girls come to mind) all get well honed.  Another advantage is that along with all the lower posted scores your handicap drops


But, along with these advantages there are some negatives.  Boredom comes to mind.  You may play a terrific course, but I'll bet an interesting ball marker that after awhile the same tee-to-green begins to lose its challenge and one putts on the same greens just don't have the same punch as they used to have.  And, instead of becoming the master of your course, ennui sets in and the skill, fun and excitement of playing your home course diminishes. 


The next thing you know, hazards and O.B. creep back into your game, cart girls become distractive and scores and handicaps begin to rise again.  This all sounds pretty grim, but there is a cure.  The cure does not require a visit to a psychiatrist, a proctologist or any other type of MD.  It's simpler than that.  What you need is a "golf getaway".  What I am talking about is a trip that involves, packed bags, an airline ticket and a few days to put your head back into the mindset it once had. Whether it's a short escape to Arizona this winter or a long considered trip to Scotland, England or Ireland next summer, a golf trip is the perfect antidote for what ails you.  Who knows, your game may improve just thinking about it. 


One should not underrate the positives of "thinking about a golf trip".  A great deal of satisfaction can come from the process of planning a trip.  Thinking about where to go, courses to play and adventures one might have during the trip are sure to cause the heart to beat just a little faster.  Being in the business of golf trip planning, I have experienced first hand the excitement golfers exhibit when talking about an interesting golf destination.  In fact, I have noticed that the more a person is involved with the planning, the more excited they become.  This is particularly true of trips to far away places, destinations new to the golfer and places just a bit exotic or at least different from the comfortable predictability of the good old U.S. of A.  Once the itinerary is set, reservations for tee times and accommodations made and transportation selected, the meaty sense of anticipation sets in.  It is difficult not to bubble a bit as one thinks about stepping on the first tee of St. Andrews Old Course or sharing a Guinness with a local Irish golfer in the club bar of the Ballybunion Golf Club.


The only thing that beats planning a trip and the anticipation of the departure is actually taking the trip and later recalling it in conversation with friends or in a private moment of contemplation.  I have been traveling to play golf for over 20 years and I think I have a book's worth of memory stories of places, golf experiences, interesting characters, beautiful views, great food and drink.  Take a memory of a great shot for instance.  Years ago on the Costa del Sol in Spain, I played an impossible flop shot from a rocky waste area wide of the green that was cramped with thorns and cacti to within a foot of the pin.  It seemed so easy and that may be why it stuck so indelibly in my mind all this time.  Another image that continues to share a special place within my brain involves my first trip to Scotland and my first round on the Old Course at St. Andrews.  It was a day in April and conditions were perfect.  The sun warmed us from the chill in the air and there was not even a puff of wind coming off the North Sea.  As I played one of the Old Course's crossing holes (the fairway of one hole cuts across the fairway of another), I noticed two older local golfers dressed in tweedy wool sport coats, wearing school ties and accompanied by a dog.  They were approaching the green and for just a moment it looked like they had wood shafted clubs in their hands.  It had to be a scene from 100 hundred years ago and seemed to epitomize my romantic notions of Scotland. 


So, if you are feeling just a bit of ennui about golf and your game, take my advice and start the planning process for your rehabilitative golf getaway.  It may not be a spiritual experience, but it will do wonders for your game, give you lots to talk about with friends and memories to quietly share with yourself.