The Fourth Hole: Golf homilies

Bill was never one for the analogies, metaphors, or Life Lessons of golf. Bobby Jones’s alleged quote and extraordinary moment of dignity in the face of an invaliding illness, “I’ll play it as it lays.”, struck him as morbid. Bagger Vance and Christian parables struck him as cloying. Worse were the faux-philosophical golf homilies–even a stopped clock gets it right twice, the one about blind squirrels finding acorns, how it looks the same on the card, or that the pencil eraser is the most important club in the bag. He found them all more self-congratulatory than self-effacing.

The worst was the standby, “better lucky than good.” He lacked the grace to be grateful for good fortune. He understood that the cliché was ironic but wasn’t luck precisely what made golf problematic in the first place? The luck of social status, leisure, and access to rolling fields of green barred to all but the luckiest? The fact that he had never once played in such privileged surroundings, that he only knew public courses and public course players, did not alter his first impressions that golf was the hobby of fat guys in red pants, in short, Republicans. Not his people. And now he was to brag that it was better to be lucky than good? He didn’t think so. Not that he was such a working class hero or even a guardian of the unlucky. On the contrary, he inherited his business, felt unworthy of his wife, and often worried that he was getting away with, well, everything. He probably resisted golf analogies because he suspected that he had been hitting it thin his whole life and somehow the ball was finding it’s way through the rough up onto the green. “Better lucky than good” they would say. He knew all about it.

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