There are many ways I can tell that I'm getting older. My automatic refusal to meet someone out any time past 10 PM. A growing disdain for tattoos on women ("Oh, she'd look so pretty except for that scorpion on her shin.") And now, golf.
A few years ago, on a lark, my boyfriend and I took a golf lesson and went to the driving range a few times. I think we just thought it would be fun to try, and marginally less expensive, wet and yuppiefied than sailing lessons. My parents are big golfers, and maybe out of hope that this would become a permanent hobby, or that it just seemed like a thoughtful gift, my Dad bought me a whole set of clubs that year for Christmas. "Looks like I can't give this up anytime soon," I thought. It was a great present, don't get me wrong, but my experience with golf was touch and go. I had discovered the joy making contact with the ball on a good swing, but those experiences were few and far between amongst lots of humiliation and sketchy golf instructors.
The following summer I played a few times, once with my Dad and once with a friend. Last year the clubs didn't leave my parents' garage.
But for some reason, this summer, my boyfriend and I are way into it. We go to the driving range a few times a week and have a standing date every weekend for 18 holes at the public course in Evanston. No doubt about it, we are not anywhere near qualifying for the LPGA, let alone the PGA. But here are a few reason why we're into it:
1. I like carrying golf clubs. A few weeks ago some jerk on the sidewalk shoved me because he wanted to walk on the left hand of the sidewalk and I refused to move from my (correct) spot on the right. If I had only had my clubs. While I would never use my clubs as a weapon of violence, it feels good to have them around, just in case.
2. I get tan. Listen, I know tanning is bad. Tanning is only less bad than smoking or casting criticism on women who breast feed in public. It's unhealthy and stupid. So I put on my SPF 30 before I go out but I don't reapply as needed every hour and I've developed a nice glow on my shoulders and arms. Shut up. I like it.
3. I spend time with my boyfriend. I'm not sure how it is that we're able to spend 4+ sweaty hours together without (major) fighting, even as we humiliate ourselves in front of each other, but I'm trying not to overthink it. We're pretty supportive of each other. Also he's really good about finding my balls, of which I lose many.
4. Animals. Yesterday we saw a crane, a deer, a chipmunk and also he got dive bombed by a redwing blackbird ("Get your club out!" I suggested, demonstrating #1 and #3 along with #4.) It's neat to see animals, even if they're messing you up on the 18th hole.
5. I like walking. And we're doing it outside on a nice lawn and look at nice houses when we do it.
6. Hot dogs/beer. I tend to pack a lunch to eat on the course just in my ongoing pursuit of avoiding obesity, but at the 7th hole there is a little stand that sells hot dogs and beer. I like knowing that if you ever need them, they're there.
7. I'm okay at it. We don't keep score. I lose a lot of balls. I pick up the ball and quit a lot of holes. But my drives, while they go directly to the right into the woods, are not sissy drives. And last week I got a birdie on a par 3. I'm just not-bad-enough to keep going.
8. The best purse in the world. Ladies, have you ever checked out a golf bag? Yesterday, in addition to holding my clubs, I carried two gloves, many balls and tees, my wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, lip gloss, sunscreen, bug spray, epi-pen, ice, water bottle, apple, carrots, keys and cucumber/apricot/arugula/basil/cream cheese sandwich on a bagel. And I could have carried even more! It's the best. And you can put it on wheels.
There are a few downsides of course to golf. I'm worried that sooner or later I'm going to start getting default golf presents at Christmas or my birthday (no, I don't want personalized tees/balls or an office putting set, or books on the philosophy of golf.) I think televised golf is still only less tedious than televised bowling. And I tend to hate every single other person on the golf course other than myself and my partner.
I keep kind of waiting for golf to become the new ironic hipster game, like bowling or something like that. But if not, it's no big deal because I'm just a few years away from being one of those people who says "Do you still say 'hipster'? Is that a word? I don't even know anymore. I used to be cool, but now I'm not. Hand me my 9 iron, please."