I love reading, especially about golf. Great writers have conjured laughter, stirred emotions and simply crafted contemplation about the game and the fortunate and ill-fated souls who play it. Herbert Warren Wind, who coined the phrase Amen Corner, wrote, "In golf, as in no other sport, your principal opponent is yourself."
Tom Watson agreed, "The person I fear most in the last two rounds is myself."
Characters in golf, just as buried lies and perfect rolls do, make the game what it is. Every golfer knows or has played with Rabbit Ears, the golfer who hears everything and blames noise for bad shots and missed putts.
P.G. Wodehouse wrote: "He missed short putts because of the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining meadows."
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Nothing bothers me on the course. However, I've learned that I need to respect those who hear "butterflies in the adjoining meadows."
I learned to block out distracting noises from my dad, who could ignore the disrupting, adolescent clamors better than most. He could watch a newscast in Tiger Stadium during an Alabama-LSU contest and never hear the crowd.
Writers dine on smorgasbords of good, bad and ugly shots with passionate poetry and prose. Alistair Cooke once wrote, "In golf, humiliations are the essence of the game."
The golfer who displays a bit too much anger might be the least enjoyable fellow competitor but the best object of the pen. Tommy Bolt quipped once not to break your driver and putter in the same round.
Dan Jenkins might have mocked that annoying golfer best, "Bad shots are funny, too, especially when somebody else hits them."
Golf can reveal the worst and best in people. Paul Harvey once said, "Golf is a game in which you yell 'fore', shoot six and write down five."
We all know that guy and the rest of the story. Paul Rosenbaum quipped that in the game the "ball lies poorly and the players well."
Yes, golf has its characters, indeed, but in the end the game reveals the best.
As Wodehouse wrote, "The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well."
Where is that guy?
Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.