The most fabulous sport mankind has invented so far. The Zen elements; the honor involved; the quiet meditative aspects of the game; the history -- all of this translates into a game which will take over your life if you let it. And I recommend that you do.

If you try the game and don't find you're doing very well at it, keep this in mind: Out of all the golfers playing on any sort of regular basis, fewer than 15 out of 100 can break 100. That is, if they keep score correctly and don't cheat.

A four-hour walk with your friends while you keep score and wager small amounts of pocket change in an idyllic setting. Tell me there's a better way to spend a beautiful day.

Golf is a wonderful, challenging game, as long as you can escape the stench of white, male privilege. In the clubhouse, it's as bad as it can be: men with moustaches in striped polo shirts, talking about their new SUV, occasionally with a wife in tow who's thinking about the dinner party she'll throw next week. Freshly scrubbed blond girls drive drink carts around, hoping for tips from the nouveau riche who are still cheap bastards ("Hey honey, how the hell do you think I got rich in the first place?"). The parking lot is full of cars with the word "luxury" somewhere in the model name.

If you actually golf, though, you'll find yourself on the course at some point, alone, looking at your ball sitting next to a tree, wondering how the fuck you'll swing without wrapping your club around a branch. You'll realize that there could be hordes of Navajo Indians riding wild stallions through the clubhouse, and you'd still be faced with the fact that swinging the club properly involves relaxing and looking at the ball as your arms are pulled through the proper arc by your hips. You may even think that how much money you have in the bank, or what kind of car you drive, or whether your clubs cost more than the braces you once wore, just doesn't matter since the essential problem now is keeping your arm straight.

It's a game that was co-opted by privilege, much to the game's detriment.

Below is a little personal narritive of sorts about how I started playing and why I still love golf.

I began playing when I was twelve in earnest. I had tried before when I was eight, but golf was unable to hold my interest. I would stand at the driving range, with a driver in hand, and I would pretend I was playing baseball. Each low liner, hovering over the grass was a sharply hit ball moving through the infield.

I quickly lost interest in the sport of fat men - in favor of things more active and constant. I grumbled to myself walking through the driving range to go swimming, watching the packs of men stand around in the road with cars of non-golfers patiently waiting to get by. As far as I was concerned Mark Twain was right in saying, "Golf is just a good walk spoiled."

I was playing youth and then Pony League baseball at the time, and golf made little sense to me. Baseball was a game that could hold your mind even if nothing was happening. Where will the pitch be - inside or outside? Where do I throw it with runners on first and second? Can I take another step and a half and still be able to make it back to second base, if the pitcher makes a pick off move?

These things seemed deficient to me in golf. Where was the active part? With out someone to engage you at all times, where was the thinking or planing? I continued to scoff at the men and their solitary sport, I had something they didn't, I had competitors and more importantly I had a team.

Then things changed. I don't know why but they did.

I came to realize that I wanted to play golf. Why? It was just something I wanted to try. In baseball I was good at and enjoyed the unglamorous part of the game, I was a fielder, a first-basmen or leftfielder. I was a mediocre batter. (Would anybody know who Mark McGwire is if he couldn't hit homeruns?)

I slowly came to realize that golf did possess a mental aspect. In fact a much larger aspect than any other sport I had played. What I didn't understand before I picked up a golf club, was that the focus of concentration isn't really centered on the physical aspect of the game at all. The focus was on getting yourself in the right "mind" before you hit the ball.

It may sound sappy but there is a certain "spirituality" to golf. It's like meditation in Buddhist or other eastern religions. Golf encompasses several concepts of meditation. The largest being the embrace of nature. The surroundings are one of the most appealing parts of golf. When I walk down the fairway I appreciate my space in a larger environment; something I don't really notice in my daily life. While two other things golf shares with meditation are the perfection of the single moment and the concept of mind over matter.

I've seen my golf swing on videotape before and it's nearly as ugly as Jim Furyk's, yet on occasion I get very good result with it. The only way I can explain the result I get, that defies the physics of my swing, is the idea of my mind controlling swing/trajectory and the ball itself.

I think that's why golf is every man's sport. You don't need to be in great physical condition to get the "high" of making perfect contact with the ball. The high derives from the idea of the perfection of a single moment.

When the club face makes contact with the ball one of three things can happen. You could make bad contact and get a bad result; make bad contact and get a good result (which is kind of like kissing the ugly girl - the kiss itself is ok but the overall feeling is bad); or you can make great contact and get great results.

When you make the last type of shot it gives you both a good shot in relationship to the game you're playing and the natural high of having the perfection of the moment. The best parallel I can think of is runners high, were a runner goes through the pain and actually feels better, when they should be feeling worse.

I often wonder if Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer or Phil Mickelson still get this feeling, because their bad shots are most peoples good shots. The best I can figure is that they still have shots that give them this feeling, they just have to make a shot that is great for them.

This feeling is what keeps me coming back to golf. I guess you could call me a junkie if you want, but it's a feeling all golfers get and this feeling is what makes us come back no matter what the conditions. It was probably best put by Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated (March 31, 1997), "…given the choice between playing and not playing - [most] golfers would tee it up with Mussolini."

In the tradition of classic golf video games such as Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf and Vs. Golf comes 1995's Golf (also known as T&E Virtual Golf) from T&E Soft and released by Nintendo for the Virtual Boy. Roughly 32% of the Virtual Boy game library is sports-related titles, and Golf is actually one of the better ones. Players are challenged to complete an eighteen hole golf course through a number of different modes, from solitary play to a tournament against a number of CPU-controlled golfers. Unlike other golf games of the era, Golf gives players a great amount of control over the golfing experiences and, for fans of the sport, provides an enjoyable day on the virtual links.

The heart of Golf is the simple-yet-powerful interface through which you set up your shots. A rotating 3D menu guides you through setting up all of the variables that go into a stroke, such as your club, stance, and aim. When it's time to swing a power meter appears and, with a tap of the A button, the meter stops. Full power is recommended for long drives, while a small amount of power is great for putts. After confirming your power selection, it's time to actually swing the club. As this happens a close-up of the golf ball appears along with a speedy little cursor streaking its way across the ball. The location of the ball when you tap the A button corresponds to how you actually hit the ball. Will you top it or give it a firm whack from below? On-target shots happen most often when the cursor is located dead-center of the ball, but depending on the type of shot you're trying to pull off, you may not want to hit the ball smack in the center. It's all about planning and reflexes in the game of Golf.

There are only two modes of play in Golf: stroke play and tourament play. Stroke play challenges you to score par or less over eighteen holes, complete with sand traps, water hazards, tall trees, and other such obstacles. You play against yourself on as many holes as you like as you endeavor to beat your own high scores, drawing ever closer to par and better. Unfortunately the game does not retain your scores once you turn the Virtual Boy off, but as long as it's turned on you can review your best scores. Tournament play challenges you to beat forty-seven other golfers, all of them controlled by the Virtual Boy. You play your turn, then the CPU comes up with the other forty-seven turns in a matter of seconds, and this cycle repeats until all eighteen holes are complete. The golfer with the lowest score wins and passwords save your progress through the course, allowing you to break up the tournament into several sessions of play.

The best aspect of the game is the amazing visuals. While other sports titles are built around animated mascots, Golf strives for realism. Your character is an anonymous person who looks very much like an actual guy and not an animated character. Courses are rendered well and look almost real enough to be an actual picture of a real golf course (provided that course were painted red and photographed at night; like all Virtual Boy games the graphics only use the colors red and black). The background music is nothing special, but the sound of the swing of the club sounds almost real and occassional voices speak up when you break one of your own records.

Golf is one of the more common games in the used video game world and typically sells on eBay for $10. It's definitely worth tracking down if you're a golf fan, although the inability to save your scores may slow you down somewhat if you consider comparing old scores to new ones a pivotal part of the game. Play through a few rounds and you'll probably find that it's the golf game fore you.

Golf (?), n. [D. kolf club or bat, also a Dutch game played in an inclosed area with clubs and balls; akin to G. kolben club, but end, Icel. k&?;lfr tongue of a bell. bolt, Sw. kolf bolt, dart, but end, Dan. kolv bolt, arrow. Cf. Club, Globe.]

A game played with a small ball and a bat or club crooked at the lower end. He who drives the ball into each of a series of small holes in the ground and brings it into the last hole with the fewest strokes is the winner. [Scot.] Strutt.

 

© Webster 1913


Golf (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Golfed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Golfing.]

To play at golf.

Last mystery of all, he learned to golf.
Kipling.

 

© Webster 1913

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