When Golf is Not Fun

By: Andrew Penner

Yes, we can sugarcoat it all day long, but sometimes golf - and don't come after me with your 5-iron for saying it - just isn't fun. Yes, yes, I know, that's blasphemy. I've got a pitchfork and very hot flames in my future, I get it. But, come on, we've all played a round of golf that was about as much fun as peeing on a spark plug.

Indeed, when the birds are chirping, the company is good and Big Bertha is behaving, a game of golf is great. That's a given. It's why we fork over a day's pay and peg it up. It's why we lie to our spouse and make a mad dash for the door. ("Honey, I'm just going over to your mom's house to mow her lawn and read her some poetry. I'll be back in four hours.")

However, not every round can be summed up as "poetic." Sometimes, when the aim is so bad you couldn't hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle, the fun factor takes a serious nosedive. I mean, who, besides perhaps Toronto mayor Rob Ford and Justin Beiber (the fine, upstanding Canadians that they are) really enjoys humiliating themselves in front of their peers?

While playing bad, like disgustingly bad, is almost always a fun-killer, there are other reasons why a game of golf can be about as enjoyable as, well, a root canal from a blind dentist.

Bugs, for example, can really put a damper on things. One summer, back in my redneck homeland of Manitoba, I recall playing golf when the mosquitoes where so thick, so bloodthirsty, so hellishly heinous that my home course actually closed down for a full week in June (the weather was perfect) because of the wicked infestation. Short of obliterating the place with a napalm strike, nothing could fix the problem. Before the course closed I remember teeing off with 14,000 mosquitoes biting into my flesh at the exact same time. Trust me, this was not fun. I could not possibly have drunk enough of my grandpa's corn liquor to make the round enjoyable.

Speaking of hooch, playing golf when you're sick, highly medicated or hung over (I swear, I've never done it) can also make for a fairly negative experience. A friend of mine - who would love to be kept anonymous, but let's just call him Robert J. Reimer, who lives on a chicken farm three miles east of Steinbach, Manitoba, on Range Road 42 - was so "hung" during one particular round that he barfed in his own golf bag. And, yes, it didn't do much good for his grip the rest of the day.

Obviously, your playing partners can also go a long way in terms of how enjoyable your experience is. For example, playing golf with obnoxious clients or your egotistical boss can be a nerve-wracking, walking-on-eggshells experience. And, of course, beating the bastards might inflict even more pain down the road.

The weather can also be a make-it-or-break-it factor when it comes to "fun." For example - and I'm risking an extended "camping" trip on my sofa for saying this, my wife will only play golf if it's 79 degrees, partly overcast (glare on sunny days can be bothersome), and the barometric pressure is 101.325 kPa.

Of course, as a diehard Canadian golfer, I've played golf in hail, sleet, snow, ice pellets and blizzards. On one particular freeze-fest in Winnipeg (it's one of the coldest cities in the world), the wind-chill factor made it feel like -10 Celsius (roughly 10 degrees Fahrenheit) and, by the fifth tee, I was showing signs of hypothermia. That round was about as much fun as licking a sparkplug.

Finally, playing golf when you're battling an injury can also really put a damper on things. Interestingly, it's often the annoying little flesh wounds - a blister on your thumb, a festering cut on your finger, a ruptured zit on your shoulder, etc. - that can really kill your joy.

Of course, when a more significant injury befalls you or one of your playing partners, things can get really depressing. Case in point: one of my golf buddies once took a Titleist (hit by an idiot on an adjacent hole) square in the temple. He hit the ground like a sack of bricks and lay still for two full minutes.

His words, when he finally came around, were priceless. "What's up, boys? Are we having fun yet?"

Andrew Penner is a golf professional, writer, and photographer based in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in many leading golf and lifestyle publications in North America and Europe. Andrew is also a 20-year member of the Canadian PGA and still teaches the game on a part-time basis. When not on writing or photography assignments, he enjoys chilling out in the backyard with his three boys and his wife, Dawn. Feel free to visit Andrew at www.andrewpenner.com. You can also reach him at andpenner@shaw.ca.

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