Take two weeks off and then quit

What makes golfers keep playing

I have often said to people I play with that when my average score reaches 85 I’ll give up golf.

Aside from the many snide and humorous remarks like ‘so you are quitting  at the end or the season’, and ‘I guess that means you don’t have many games left’ most people rather say ‘no you won’t’.

I guess the question becomes, what is it about golf that gives you enjoyment? Is is shooting a good score, is it the friendship and camaraderie, is it the endless pursuit of par?  I suspect it is a very individual thing and in most cases a combination of things that keeps golfers going.

Most golfers are constantly trying to improve their game, but what happens when you reach the stage in your life (and your golf game) where your handicap starts heading in the wrong direction, what keeps you going then?

I recently played with an older fellow (older than me that is) who has been playing golf for over 60 years.  He recalled how as a younger man he played a lot of competitive golf and got his handicap down to a low single digit number.  Now it hovers around 15.  He plays 3 to 4 times a week and still derives great enjoyment from the game. He hits the ball approximately 170 yards off the tee, usually in the middle of the fairway, his approach shots are usually somewhere around the green, he chips reasonably well and two putts a lot.   ‘I don’t need much anymore’ he told me one day.  A few pars, the odd birdie and shooting his age a least once every week keeps him coming back and enjoying the game.

Then you get the other type of  player, the player whose handicap has always been around 20 with no improvement in sight.  What is it that keeps them coming back? For some players its becomes all about their net score, especially when there is money on the line.  They take great pride and pleasure in taking money from low handicappers on the odd hole with their net par or net birdie.

So what will I do when my average score hits 85.  Well, one can never say with certainty what one will do in the future, but because for me the enjoyment of the game is the pursuit of par I suspect that when 85 becomes the number I may well heed the advice of the late Tommy Armour and ‘take two weeks of and then quit’.

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4 thoughts on “Take two weeks off and then quit

  1. Dan

    A question I have been asking for years Menno. I played between a scratch and a three from 1983 until 2004, competing in no less than 20 tournaments every year probably winning close to half of them. My lowest score being a 65 and then I found out that all of those times when my wife would say go golf that she didn’t really mean it. I had to make big changes in order to continue with marital bliss, I went from 100+ rounds a year to about 20 and pretty much no practise. I’m now 60 and my skills have eroded, I sport a 8 handicap but I seem to play more scrambles now and hang out with good golfing partners so we’re still winning but my contribution seems to only come with chipping and putting. It is just a shame to have played at a high level and now have to explain that I once was a player. I don’t think anyone wants to hear how good you thought you once were. I guess I could look at all the hardware I won over the years but my wife always made me throw them in a box which is buried somewhere in the garage. I could listen to Bruce Springsteen sing “glory days”‘, but instead I now just consider it a nice walk with friends and realize that I have so many other passions and a loving wife.

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  2. john sired

    As a long time golfer that can shoot an 85 way more often than 75 anymore, I came to this realization. To enjoy golf and all the benefits that golf brings, scoring becomes secondary, hitting a pure shot, maybe sinking the odd putt, out hitting your buddies occasionally, brings me back for more punishment. John

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    1. Menno Zacharias

      The law of diminishing returns hits us all at this age. I know I’ve lost a substantial amount of distance off the tee since my aortic dissection but so far I’ve been able to fight back by improving other aspects of my game. But I appreciate that cannot go on forever. Last year I went out and ‘punished’ myself 162 times. Hoping to do the same this year. See you on the course!

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