The Golfing Age

July 7, 2011

So at our bi-monthly Golf Haters gathering last night, the conversation turned, unsurprisingly, to how much we all hate the game of golf. A few developed their animosity from a distance, never able to understand the appeal of the sport. Invariably, they’ll wind up mangling the quote attributed to Mark Twain, ‘a good walk spoiled.’

Another faction of the group were once in love with the past time but the affair soured, owing to either nagging shoulder or back injuries, liver breakdown, marital discord or the simple realization that they sucked and could no longer deal with the mental anguish it caused. More likely, there’s a co-mingling of those various factors. Whatever the reasons, these were lovers scorned and harboured a deep, deep hatred of golf.

Then there’s Tad Cromartey (or Thaddeus Reginald Stafford Cromartey V – actually he’s just the Fourth but prefers the feel of the Fifth). Tad was born to the game. In fact, he boasts of a driver and 3-wood as part of his family crest. Golf was the only game he ever played and he had played it ferociously in his day, even landing a scholarship to some school stateside way back when despite having absolutely no need of it. So ingrained was it that he had taken to wearing knickerbocker pants while playing as a sign of his fidelity to the tradition.

Now, not so much. When asked why, his answer’s straight forward and bold in its unflagging arrogance.

“The wrong element has taken to it.”

“The ‘wrong element’?” someone will ask, never tiring of the response it evokes.

“The Yahoos. The Yobs and Yobbos.”

“The Great Unwashed,” someone will chime in. “Those who can’t pull off the knickerbocker look.”

“All I’m saying,” Tad jumps to his own defense, “is that if you can’t make it through 9 holes just drinking from a flask, you don’t belong on the links.”

You see, for the Tads of the world, golfing in Ontario began its desultory decline after Mike Harris legalized drinking on the courses not long after taking over the Premier’s office. Up until then, the manicured greens were the sole domain of the Flask Drinking Set, golfers who liked the occasional nip after a drive gone wrong or putt improbably sunk. They were golfers who drank rather than drinkers who golfed. Tad initially took great pleasure from nailing a lout or two with an errant ball but the novelty wore off after a few years and his golfing days were numbered.

As an avowed Golf Hater myself, I too saw dark dealings in the Harris move to make outdoor bars of our golf courses. But my wariness, naturally, was more political. Amidst all the slashing, burning and downloading of social programs that comprised the early days of the Common Sense Revolution, the seemingly innocuous move to legalize drinking while golfing in this province crystallized what the conservative movement had become and would continue to be throughout the course of the next decade and a half.

Harris was a golfer. Duffer, he was called and he’d worked for a spell managing a golf club before entering politics. While he spearheaded what was to be a major societal upheaval that we’re still feeling the effects of in 2011, he found the time to make a hobby he enjoyed even more enjoyable.

Thus, neo-conservatism in a nutshell: what’s in it for me?

I wouldn’t call it selfishness. It’s more of a hermetically sealed self-centredness. Instilled is the idea that what benefits you will benefit others. The atomization of the political impulse to its simplest, purest form. The individual. Me want this. Me no like that.

That’s the opposite of consensus building. It’s more fomenting mob rule, whipping up emotion based on our two most primal instincts: fear and want. If you find yourself in a constant state of amazement at how successful such a strategy has been, don’t be. It’s fucking easy. We should stop labeling those who operate tactically in such a fashion ‘geniuses’. Real genius is the ability to quell that insidious wave of anger and build one on bigger, more affirmative principles.

But currently we’re living our lives in the Golfing Age whether we play the game or not. Highly individualistic, we wander around on artificially maintained green, green grass in groups of no more than 4, our direction based on the last, single shot. When we land in the rough or plop one in the drink, we’re entirely left to our own devices. We’ll see you at the next tee, guy. And watch out for the ticks while you’re over there.

And it suits us, too. According to a recent issue of Macleans magazine, “Could there be a better indicator that Canada is one of the world’s most prosperous, contented and civilized nations than this? We have the highest golf participation rate in the world.”

It’s difficult to argue with such solid, fact based metrics although my fellow Golf Hater, Tad Cromartey, might disagree with the civilized aspect of the claim. We are doing just fine because we golf. We golf because we can drink while doing it. For that, we have self-serving neo-conservatives to thank.

bogeyedly submitted by Cityslikr