A Golfer’s World

The golf season has started in earnest. But the fairways and the greens are dry. We need more rain. Rain for the golfers, rain for the farmers, rain for the forests.

We know golf courses drink too much water. TIME magazine says that 9.5 billion liters of water is used a day to irrigate the world’s golf courses. Same amount water supports 4.7 billion people in the world. Everybody needs water.

Golf is one of the most difficult and unpredictable games. Most golfers are very enthusiastic about their sport. Almost nothing can stop a golfer from playing unless there is thunder and lightning. It is the challenge and the love of the outdoor (not the ball!) which gets the best and the worst out of a golfer.

A recent Golf Digest survey asked, “Would you give up sex with your spouse to become a member at Augusta National? Thirty percent said “yes” and 70 percent said “no”. I don’t know the marital status of those who said “yes”. But it is good to know that the majority of golfers have their priorities in the right place!

Each golfing season starts with the golfer’s desire to cut his handicap by a reasonable number. Unfortunately, this fails. It has been shown that even among the most dedicated players; only 25 percent will improve their handicap index by at least one stroke during a 12-month period.

At the request of the Golf Digest, the U.S. Golf Association studied the handicap indexes of more than 1.1 million golfers from 2002 to 2003 and found that only two percent of players improved by five strokes or more during that 12-month span. The biggest shocker: 50 percent of players got worse!

It is said that golf mimics life. During a round of golf, a golfer faces so many challenges that after the 18th hole if he comes out smiling then he deserves to go to heaven.

A good golfer needs a good swing. The mechanics of a good swing have been thoroughly studied. But very few can duplicate it.

The ball, with multiple dimples, is supposed to fly like a bird and provide good distance. They are expensive to buy. Most golfers end up buying cheap “experienced” balls because who wants throw away money in the multiple ponds and creeks they call hazards!

Golfers are like farmers. Accurate weather forecast is important for them. Playing in the wind and rain is no fun. Sometime golfers do get lucky with sunny days and no wind. Then come the mosquitoes. It is worth remembering that Health Canada recommends insect repellents containing DEET as the best defense against West Nile for now. Hopefully, we will have a vaccine soon.

Sunny days also increase the risk of skin cancer. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of between 30 and 60.

Dehydration and fatigue can be dangerous. Golfers have to drink plenty of water. In 2002, a 15-year-old boy in Phoenix contracted Norwalk virus (he subsequently died) from a golf course water cooler. Eighty other golfers were taken ill. The Canadian National Golf Course Owners Association had recommended that its 2,300 member courses remove all coolers.

Golfers do get hungry. It is good to pack snacks which do not contain refined flour, sugar or tans fats (they can clog arteries). Try nuts, seeds, fruits, and low carbohydrate bars.

There are good things about golf. Golf is good exercise. You can burn 250 to 500 calories an hour. Golf is not good for building stamina. But it is good for flexibility and has a small effect on building strength.

Golf is fun if you like it and have reasonable expectations. As somebody has said, the world of golf has loads of weird terms, wild rules, and wacky practices. Either you love it or hate it. There is no fun if you are sitting on the fence. Then you might as well be a politician!

Well, when is my next tee time?

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