Golf is a lot of walking, broken up by disappointment and bad arithmetic. ~Author Unknown
I wanted to enjoy golfing, I really did. My husband Dave loves the game and even though I'm not overly athletic I decided to give it a try so we'd have something fun to do on vacation. I showed promise, but my competitive nature overrode my potential, creating a seething, bitter, sullen monster on the course. I tried to laugh it off, to have positive "swing thoughts", to just enjoy the amazing natural settings I found myself in, but in the end, my failure to coax that little ball into the cup – in less than the maximum strokes allowed – got the better of me. I now know how the men he plays with every week feel.
You see, my husband's regular partner is a ringer, i.e. someone who’s unexpectedly better at a sport than they first appear and brought in to help a team win. They were past co-workers who discovered they both love to play, are able to accept the state of their games and don't mind getting up before dawn to make their tee time (something I refused to do). The fact that his partner is a woman doesn't bother him one bit. He's practically alone on that count.
Golf is still very much a man's sport with nary a woman to be found on the course...and when one does show up, you can just feel the wind go out of the other guys’ sails. When I played and walked up to the first tee, I always felt like a stowaway found by the sailors on a Trans-Atlantic voyage bound to bring doom to the expedition just because of my sex. Being a gentlemen's game your partners are generally always outwardly pleasant, but inside they are screaming to escape this random union. Some "man up" and start giving you advice, like you're a 5-year-old on their first day of school. I knew how to play the game, I just wasn't very good at it and if I wouldn't listen to the man I love (who learned quickly to leave me alone), why would I take advice from someone I just met who couldn't hit their ball onto the fairway either?
It seems playing well doesn't help matters either. In fact, it makes things worse. When Paddy and Dave walk up to the first tee everyone assumes they're married and can't understand why he's golfing with his wife. They never assume he wants to play with her because she's actually good. Their new partners are further disconcerted when they are officially introduced and discover his real wife (me) is home in bed. There's something going on here they just can't put their fingers on...and they don't like it. Their initial disappointment at being saddled with a chick quickly turns to horror when she starts playing better than them.
This is where the genius of Dave comes in. In an attempt to mitigate the mental chaos that's about to occur, he puts them at ease by becoming their instant best friend. Paddy swears he knows more about the lives of these two men before the end of every first hole than he found out about her in the first year of their working together. It's a gift he bestows on them to help take the sting out of the next 4-5 hours that were supposed to be the highlight of their week. You see, 99.9% of men still hate being beaten by a woman. It doesn't matter that Paddy's been playing golf since she was a girl and usually has decades of experience on them. Playing against a girl just brings out the worst in many of them. Sure, they smile and say "great shot" when she bombs it past them, but they don't mean it. They cheat, erase and mulligan their way from hole to hole in an attempt to post a lower score than her.
Only she doesn't care. She's worked hard for her 12-handicap. She doesn't brag. She doesn't have to. Yet they just can't accept it. Not everyone they meet is an ass, but they've encountered more than their fair share over the years. The Modern Man apparently does not exist on the golf course. I find it almost hard to blame them. Some men are just hard-wired that way. However, I feel more sorry for Paddy. Thankfully, she has Dave as a buffer and her own sense of humor to help her along. She now plays with a hot pink ball just to screw with them even more, which I find hilarious.
The ratio of men to women in the game of golf is about 95 to 5, so it's quite advantageous for single women to attempt to pick up the game...and potentially a man. Even though I only played sporadically for a year, I learned a lot about men while on the fairway. I've come to believe that a man's behavior on the course shows exactly what kind of person he'll be off it. If he's willing to cheat or breaks his clubs in anger, what will he do to you? It's just a game after all and it's supposed to be fun. Or so I'm told. If you find a man who's helpful without being overbearing, proud when you post a better score and can laugh when he ricochets his ball off a tree into the wrong fairway, don't let him out of your sight.
In the end, our golf love triangle has been a boon to our marriage. I get to sleep in while making my husband happy, he gets to enjoy his favorite game without having to constantly placate my battered ego and Paddy gets to play with a man who actually appreciates her talent on the course. Now if he could only stop losing money to her mother – she’s an even better golfer than Paddy — Saturday mornings would be truly perfect.
Lisa Dinsmore is a writer, web programmer, movie and wine lover who lives in Los Angeles with her husband. She currently runs two review websites to share her passions: www.crazy4cinema.com and www.dailywinedispatch.com.