“We can’t be together anymore,” she said, “There’s just no future with us.”
Well, shoot, I thought (not what I really thought).
We’ve all been there, unfortunately, and we’ve all coped with rejection in a different way. Me? I became an addict.
I was lying in bed one morning, feeling sorry for myself, when my phone buzzed with a text message. Hey man, want to come play golf? it read. And then, something happened for which I have no explanation. I decided to join my friend on the course. I hadn’t swung a club in years, but some primordial entity drove me to the course. It was as if my subconscious had had enough of my pity party. Okay, dude, enough is enough. Go do something.
I stood on the green of the third hole, a long par 5 that dogleg lefts around a water hazard. The cup was a good thirty feet away from where my chip had landed. I lined up my putt, honestly just aiming for anywhere within 5 feet of the pin, and swung. The ball raced along the green toward the cup.
Getting closer. Closer. Closer. The ball rolled right into the cup
Life never ceases to amaze me. In that one moment, I changed from a guy who sometimes plays golf in his spare time to a golfer who lives in his spare time. To date, that is the longest putt I’ve ever made. Talk about a religious experience. An awakening.
The rest of my game was average, which is to say not as good as I’d like, but that putt was all I needed. I had stood at the edge of a precipice; below me was a chasm of self-pity, a ravine of resentment and poison, the end of my world. The ball rolling into the cup was the sun rising over the horizon, illuminating all that was still beautiful. Nothing was more beautiful than the golf course, and from that moment to this very day I seek to gaze upon that beauty as often as I can.
That was in June, and as I write this it is October. Let me tell you I am in the throes of addiction, and loving every second of it. I don’t need a 12-step program; I need a 12 course program. I played as often as I could, 3-5 times per week. It wasn’t enough. I started collecting logo balls from every course I played, a trophy for my conquest, physical proof of my addiction. It started with local courses in Medford, Oregon–Quail Point, Centennial, and Stewart Meadows. It wasn’t enough. I hit the road, logging nine holes at Oak Knoll in Ashland, Dutcher Creek & Red Mountain in Grants Pass, and Eagle Point & Stone Ridge in Eagle Point, Oregon. Still wasn’t enough. What originally started as a 5 mile radius from home became 10, then 50, 75, and 100. No distance was too far for me to travel to get a logo ball; I just threw the clubs and my cart in the trunk and as soon as my work day ended I was on the road, with The Eagles blaring through my speakers and the anticipation palpably rising in my chest. Golf was, is, my Hotel California. I can never leave this addiction. 125 miles is the farthest I’ve gone. I expect that record to last all of 2 weeks, when I travel to Eugene and play.
I make good money, but golf is an expensive hobby. On the days I couldn’t play, because of personal economics, or time, or engagements with non-golfers (heathens) getting in my way, I was still constantly surrounded by the sport. The subreddit r/golf found itself in my browser every day. I subscribed to dozens upon dozens of professional golfers and fan-pages on Instagram and Facebook; I watched old events on YouTube and new events as they happened, witnessing my first Open championship, golf’s return to the Olympics in Rio, and being a pure enthusiast while watching Patrick Reed vs. Rory McIlroy just last week during the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Of course, as much as golf filled my head and my heart, I still thought of her. I missed her often, and I recall wishing I could celebrate with her after a good round, or after I got back from travel. But I couldn’t. I just had me. With the wounds still fresh, golf helped me heal by giving me a daily therapy session. I even got help from a professional player, arguably one of the finest to ever swing a club. In reading his biography The Way of the Shark, Greg Norman gave me the best advice I could have asked for in dealing with my grief that always seemed to bubble up to the surface, ensuring that any happiness I felt was always reduced a few points:
“In many ways, golf is very much like life. You have your highs and you have your lows. But things seem to even out in the long haul. All you can do is play your own game[…]”
That was all I needed. I doubt this article will ever cross your desk, but thanks, Greg.
Hi everyone, my name is Colin and I’m a golf addict. My addiction is an unexpected benefit of my subconscious trying to heal a wound that only love can leave. I walked with my grief for what felt like an eternity until I wound up at the end of the world. Golf brought me back. It literally saved my life. It not only subdued my anguish from her leaving, but it taught me a valuable coping mechanism for future anguish (except sadness from errant shots, unfortunately!). So, with golf in my arsenal of life, I am no longer afraid of the end of the world. I know I will end up there again, eventually, and that’s okay.
I’ll get a logo ball.