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After not hitting a golf ball for a few months, I decided to go watch some wannabe Tour players give it a whack today at the buy.com Open here in my area. This is coming from a guy who played golf with a passion for many, many years. When I rediscovered that I also liked to read and write, I had to choose between the two: Golf and E2. Neither my wife nor my accountant would have withstood the time it took to do both. So I quit. Cold turkey.

It had been bringing me nothing but misery for a while, anyway. I like to walk, and everyone in America seems too fucking lazy to do anything but get in those four wheeled little cars and speed around the course. That ain't golf. Also, as I got better and better at the game, I found that the others who were on my skill level didn't seem to be having as much fun as the hackers. Both they and I were taking it way too seriously. It wasn't the money; it was the handicap. I got mine to around 10, and I was playing with folks who had anything from a 4 to an 8. For those of you who aren't familiar with the game, that means we could expect, on a good day, to shoot around 80 on a championship golf course with a par of 72, as most are.

Sure, it was fun to knock the ever loving crap out of a little white sphere and send it sailing at blistering speeds over 300 yards away, with accuracy. Sure, it was fun to make 50 foot putts and hear the familiar clink as it rolled into the hole, just as you knew it must. Sure, it was great to be out in a natural setting with the birds chirping and the green grass growing. But there was that pesky demon in your pocket. There was that scorecard.

Once I shot 35 on the front nine from the blue tees on a very hard golf course. (Par was 36. I was one under par for nine holes.) I had been in a Zen trance for nine holes of golf. I felt what the pros must feel when they are in the hunt. That, however, was as long as I could hold that feeling together. I wondered then how someone on the PGA Tour could handle the stress of basically throwing bullseyes on a dart board for 6 hours a day for four straight days, every week of the year. I thought of people like Tiger Woods who seems to be some sort of Zen Master. And I thought of folks like John Daly who have tasted the nectar of supreme success and then watched as it ruptured like a beer can stuck with an awl.

Anyway, there they were today: These golfers out there on the buy.com Tour. This is like folks in AAA baseball, only one step away from the Bigs. But what a step it is. And there were several folks out there who used to be in the Bigs and were desperately trying to get back. Golf doesn't weed out the aging in the herd like football and other contact sports. You can be a rabbit on the Tour at 15 or 50. There was Casey Martin riding in his cart as he plunged to 5 over par with a 78. There was Willie Wood struggling to come in at one over for the event. Hell, Chip Beck couldn't even make the cut and get to play on the weekend. Chip is 44 and won four times on the PGA Tour. And then there was the leader, Brett Quigley, who wound up the day four strokes ahead of the field by virtue of birdies on the last two holes. He was masterful as he recorded those last two scores on a very hard golf course. Brett is a 31 year old from MA who has made a grand total of $4000 so far this year playing golf. And now there he is, in the hunt: It's his tournament to win or lose tomorrow. If he wins, he'll make $81,000.

He asked me how I was enjoying the tournament while he waited to tee off at the last hole. I said it was great for me because I'd played that course myself a few times and was amazed at the scores. His words? "Well, what I'm doing today couldn't actually be called golf."

You see what I mean?

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