Mention baseball in our lunch time group, and the conversation immediately turns to the Major Leagues—the standings, the pennant races, and the summer’s outstanding players. Bring up football or basketball and it’s all about colleges and the pros.
But when we talk about golf, the conversation turns to our own games. It’s about the hole well played, and the potential eagle turned triple bogey. We talk about the weather, courses we’ve tried and the new equipment we’ve bought.
Only as an afterthought does anyone mention the pros. Unless a Major is in the offering, !‘m the only one who knows—or cares—where they’re playing on the weekend. And I’m the only one who knows where they are on the money list, or even what equipment they play.
Bad news for the equipment companies: I have never once heard someone say “I need a new driver. What does Tiger play?” Instead, they ask “What are YOU playing.”
It’s a similar story at my golf club. There, in the 19th hole after a round, we talk about the pros in every sport but golf. We analyze the big plays made by the Lions (that takes all of about thirty seconds), the moves made by the Tigers, and the Wolverines, the Spartans, the Red Wings and the Pistons. We’ll even on occasion discuss the analyses of local sports columnists and talk show hosts.
Bad news for the golf magazines: No one that I know ever discusses what they read in the last issue of Golf Digest. Instead, we might talk about a tip one of the players crowd picked up from the local PGA teaching pro. No one plans their next golf outing based on the magazines’ “100 Best Courses” lists, either. For that, we rely on the each others’ recommendations.
It’s an interesting position for the professional golf tours and the golf media. They could disappear tomorrow, and more than a few golfers wouldn’t care. I started playing golf because my friends did – not because I saw Tiger or Jack on television. And I continue to play golf because I love the game; not because I’m inspired by the Tours.
Golf in the end, isn’t about the pros and the golfing media. Golf belongs to the people who play it after work, on weekends, in leagues and with a few friends. We love our local public courses – warts and all – and don’t really care about the Tour venues. One of our lunchtime number was a caddy and played at Oakland Hills as a boy; he says he’d rather play his local municipal. That’s where he’s had his low rounds and his hole-in-one.
For players of the game, golf is intensely personal, and every golfer has his own stories to tell. Unlike the football and baseball fans, golfers don’t have to wait for others to provide the entertainment. We make our own stories.