As of last Sunday, I quit the game of golf. I started playing golf probably around age 9, going to three par courses with my dad. I played all through high school, earning my varsity letter in my freshman year, which had more to do with living in a primarily blue collar town than being really good, though I wasn't bad.
I played on the club team in college, with little commitment the first three years, mainly because I didn't have a car. I played a lot my senior year, though, and by that time, I was working part time at a golf course in during the summer, winter, and spring vacations, as well as a few weekends a month while I was in school.
After graduation, I worked there for a few more years, and even registered for and took a P.A.T., or playing ability test twice with the intent of becoming a teaching professional. However, in the time between deciding to take the tests and actually taking them, I decided to continue my education in law school, and didn't put forth the effort to practice for either test.
In law school, the combination of being time and cash poor led to limited activity on the golf course, though my last year I played a fair amount, and picked up the game again full steam in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, the combination of work and various other factors kept me off the course more than I would have liked, but last year I finally joined the Chicago District Golf Association, registered for a handicap, and played at least once pretty much every weekend.
This year I went at it full bore. Started hitting the heated driving range when the weather was still cold, and in about mid-April, I basically started playing roughly twice per week, mostly on Saturday and Sunday with the occasional weekday round tossed in. In my first full round of the year, I fired a 74, marred by a double bogey on the last hole. In one three hole stretch, I sandwiched an eagle around two birdies, getting back four strokes to par in three holes. I felt way ahead of scheduled, and thought that this was a year in which I could make some pretty big strides. Later, I qualified to play in the Illinois State Mid-Amateur championship, and registered for two other individual events, and one pairs event (the pairs event and one of the individual events was rained out). I was in a bad stretch for the Mid-Am, and played horribly in the actual event, but got things somewhat back on track, the highlights being a 73 at Arcadia Bluffs up in Michigan, and a 75 (actually below the course rating), including five birdies, at Blackthorn in South Bend.
But ultimately, the season has been pretty awful. I've been wildly inconsistent, unable to put two good rounds together. I've had the shaft in my driver break three times, once through my own idiocy. I've spent God only knows how much on clubs (including a new three wood, hybrid 2-iron, two driver shafts, two new wedges, and a new putter), balls, gloves, and especially green fees.
Last Sunday, I played Pine Meadow, as close to a home course as I have, with a friend and his brother. After a solid start, I proceeded to three putt six greens, and just generally play rotten golf from the third hole on. That followed a round at Cog Hill where, after being even through three holes and in the middle of the fairway on the 4th, I proceeded to play the last 15.5 holes in 17 over par.
Golf is no longer fun. My handicap currently sits at 3.7, and there are a lot of people who would be thrilled with that. But the fact is that it's almost two strokes higher than it was two months ago, and if I were to continue to play and post my average scores for the rest of the year, my handicap would probaly end somewhere right around 6 or worse. That's not acceptable.
The fact is, at my age, and with the amount of time I've put into the game this year, if I can't consistently shoot in the 77-79 range and better, it's just not worth the time and effort, not to mention the money. Compounding that is the fact that if you're going to put up those numbers, you either need to play a consistently solid round start to finish, or you need to make a lot of birdies. I don't do the latter, and if you aren't going to make a lot of birdies, you can't fall apart early. Invariably after four or five holes, I'm three or four over par, which means I have to be lights out the rest of the way, and if you can't get on track early, it's not going to happen. The result that I spend the last 3 and a half hours miserable, making the experience less enjoyable for myself, and more importantly, my playing partners. It's not fair to them, and it's not worth it for me. I simply refuse to play a game that I am unable to play at the level to which I feel I should be playing.
So after roughly 24 years, my days playing golf are over. There will still be rounds that I'll need to play, either as a work function, or a family function, etc. I'll still play with my dad when I see him, because I'm not sure how much time we may have to do such things. But the weekend trips to the course, the mid-week trips to the driving range, the time spent reading Golfweek, they're all over. The clubs are put away, and pretty much everything that would indicate I play golf (other than my checkbook, I guess) is out of sight.
So while this blog post is essentially meaningless, it's served as an opportunity to put my frustrations into writing. It's been fun, or at least, it's been fun on occasion. Now I need to find something to occupy my weekends in the summer.