If You Play Golf, You Are My Friend

If You Play Golf You are My Friend.

Harvey Penick’s little aphorism came to mind yesterday as I was paired for my nine with another solo golfer.

Because I play the vast majority of my rounds without a group, I usually find myself paired with other singles—complete strangers. And what has been amazing to me is that it always has seemed to work out..

Of course some were better than others. There was the guy who didn’t say a word the entire round (I figured he didn’t want to break his concentration), and the one who threw his bag—clubs and all—into a lake (at least he didn’t throw MY clubs in the lake). A couple others needed a lesson in etiquette.

But I honestly can’t think of a single round spoiled by an impromptu playing partner. And for the most part, they’ve been good, interesting and friendly company (I can only hope they can say the same thing about me).

Perhaps it’s that, being paired with a stranger, people are on their best behavior. Or it could be that players who show up as singles are golfers of a more serious sort.

Yesterday’s playing partner, Larry, turned out to be a really nice guy. Larry was in a cart—I walked—and was very much worried that I was rushing to keep up. At least once a hole, he would say, “You don’t have to move so fast. I’m not in a hurry.”

I don’t think he really believed me when I said that I generally am a fast player. I don’t take practice swings; I walk briskly to the ball, and I am pulling my next club out of the bag well before I arrive at the ball’s location. I have never had trouble keeping up with guys in carts.

Still, it was a very nice gesture.

And its pretty typical of what I’ve encountered over the years. A shared love of golf can turn complete strangers into friends—if only for a few holes on a lazy afternoon.

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