August 23, 2022

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My dream of being a bad golfer

The only period of my life when I golfed more or less regularly was from 2009 to 2013, while on a four-year dream vacation to Bulyea, Saskatchewan.

One of Bulyea’s many charms is The Eddy, a volunteer-run nine-hole community golf course. It’s popular among the cottagers and the beach crowd who visit nearby Last Mountain Lake, and of course it is played regularly by the people of Bulyea, Earl Grey, Strasbourg, and Silton.

Like many small prairie courses, The Eddy has sand putting greens. My cousin, a longtime member, told me they were considering alternatives for artificial putting surfaces. I was a bit surprised.

“Your members are all prairie grain farmers—the best growers in the world,” I said. “Why can’t you grow nine small patches of short grass?”

Anyway, I loved playing The Eddy. Green fees were $5—just drop the money in the tin at the first tee. Or you could buy a family membership for $75.

The course was short, there were no Par 5 holes. But there was plenty of variety with some uphill and downhill slopes, a couple of doglegs, and even some water hazards. It was fun to play.

I’m not a good golfer. I would have to take lessons and practice regularly to even be a bad golfer. In fact, I was invited to play on the BGA Tour (Bad Golfers’ Association), but I declined because I would be embarrassed to duff and hack my way through a course in the presence of strangers. I’m just not good enough for a bad golfers tournament.

A couple weeks ago my older daughter and I played 18 at Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club and had a great afternoon. I had been using my Dad’s old Eaton’s-store “Sam Snead” clubs with real wood woods, but Sarah brought me a set of early 21st-century golf bats to use. They are much better, and I think if I play half a dozen times a year I will notice the difference.

My strategy for the afternoon was to hit straight, short shots and try to reach the green in par. From there, if I averaged three putts per hole, I would score 126 and have a good baseline for trying to improve my game.

I got the short shots I wanted. Straight, not so much. My score was ballooning, and then there were a couple of holes where we forgot to mark our scores. I don’t know what my score was, but it wasn’t 126.

But we had fun. It was a nice hot day, the course was beautiful, we each made some lovely shots—she moreso than me.

Whatever we enjoy doing—sports, games, arts, or anything else—there isn’t necessarily a need to pursue excellence. In fact in our case, golf wasn’t even the point (luckily). Sometimes it’s nice to give ourselves permission to be terrible at things and still have a good time doing them.