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Monday, July 15, 2013

There's More to Golf Than Winning!

I know! I know! I can hear it as I write!  We can't play golf if we don't have a positive attitude, if we don't bring the I can do this -- I can beat you to a bloody pulp attitude to every round we play and keep that attitude tattooed inside our eyelids from the first drive to the last putt.  Anything less makes us losers, condemns us to a miserable game of mediocre golf.

Solheim Cup Team USA, 2011
Let's set that chest-beating, raw-meat-ripped-off-the-bone-in-chunks attitude aside for a few minutes.  Don't abandon it.  Don't deny it.  Just set it aside.  We'll come back to it.


The annual club championship at Star Fort is a 2-day affair.  Stroke winners in 4 categories get gift certificates AND a reserved parking space with their name on it.  Net winners in 4 categories get gift certificates and bragging rights.  Everybody else gets 2 days of golf, no matter what the weather brings, the pleasure two days of golf bring, and a cheeseburger on Sunday afternoon.

This is a low-stakes event as golf tournaments go.  The entry fee is just high enough to cover gift certificates and the cheeseburgers.  We're all playing on a course we know well -- although I did find a new spot from which to execute one of my famous, thread-it-through-the-trees-and-back-onto-the-fairway trick shots on the 17th hole Sunday afternoon.

Sadly, participation lagged in the annual club championship this year.  At our best, we have enough members in the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association to form 3 flights for club-wide tournaments.  I love flights because when we are flighted I am not put in the position of competing directly with the likes of Beast Miller (who is the new women's champ) or Bonnie, whom the Beast defeated in a sudden death playoff.  And I can assure you that no matter how strong and consistent my I can do this attitude, I will never match The Beast or Bonnie off the tee.  I am their equal on the green, but it takes me longer to get there.

So why do I pay money to play golf in the annual club championship?  The answer's not complicated.

I teed off Saturday and Sunday for much the same reason that Taylore Karle entered the Manulife LPGA Classic last weekend.  Karle's an LPGA rookie this year.  She's entered 11 tournament this year and missed the cut 10 times.  She doesn't have a Rolex Ranking or even a single Solheim Cup point.   Her drive is about average by LPGA standards and her driving accuracy is way below average.  She can putt, but first she has to get to the green.  She's having a challenging year, and so am I (for different reasons).  But there's this suit up and show up ethic that's driving both of Karle and me to the first tee.

And, let's face it, you can't win if you don't show up to play.

And if we don't show up to play, if we don't each do our part of support the game we love, what will happen?  If we don't support events sponsored by our home course, our local and state associations, what are the long-term consequences?   Like Karrie Webb and Paula Creamer, we can all serve as golf's ambassadors, supporting and promoting the game as we play it, representing it to others, encouraging their participation and involvement.

Karrie Webb, Australian's most successful professional woman golfer, has accumulated a long and admirable string of awards since she began playing pro golf in 1996.  She's won both the US and British Women's Open, has carried the Olympic Torch, and has throughout her career promoted the game of golf.  Webb not only suits up and shows up, she often takes young Australian golfers with her to international Tour events, shepherding, mentoring, and ensuring support for the next generation of women golfers.

Paula Creamer, who's been making her mark on US women's golf, is as active off the course as on, as willing to support and promote the game of golf as she is to tee it up in competition.  Explaining why she helped run the youth clinic at the 2013 US Open, Creamer captured the intersection between competition and support for the game:  Golf's about winning, but it's about more than that, and at the end of the day I want to be a part of that and give back to girls' golf.

Sometimes winning a golf match is a Me Thing and sometimes -- from the Solheim Cup to the Pumpkin Cup -- it's a We Thing.  That depends on the format for the competition.  But in either case, winning the event is a short-term goal.  Sustaining the game, supporting our home clubs and golf associations, and doing our part to ensure that the game of golf will remain viable and available to future golfers, is everyone's responsibility.