In his Golf World column, Final Say, Roland Merullo talks about the reason there is such a bond of deep friendship created by those who regularly play golf together. Nowhere else do we relate to people of such diverse interests, political and social views, and income standings. It is a wonder that we can spend four hours regularly with people who think so differently from us, yet golf seems to create a bridge of tolerance and shared purpose that gets beyond all that.
True friendships are built with a measure of humility. Merullo points out that the game dishes out humble pie without regard to who you are. “The moment you set foot on the first tee you’re signing up to periodically make a fool of yourself. Nobody escapes.” When we watch Ernie gag a three-footer to lose a championship we can feel his pain because we have experienced that pain-in front of others we know well-so many times before.
That protective shell we wear to ward off the slings and arrows that life throws at us every day has to be permeated if we are to establish real relationships with our friends. It does not take but a few holes on the golf course to get a good sense of someone in your group and, as he says, “if you tee it up with someone 30 times a year for decades you can probably sketch out a map of his DNA”.
In the end knowing whether a person will be there when you need them has a lot to do with witnessing how they handle the expected and the unexpected. Appropriately put “every golf outing includes moments of failure, disappointment, even heartbreak. How we face those things speaks volumes about the creature we are underneath the mask of the personality”.
It has occurred to me many times that when I want a piece of solid and objective advice I will pick up the phone and call someone who I have befriended through golf. There is something about the authenticity of their advice I can embrace because we have read or misread a putt for each other in a two-man team competition and hold no malice from the result. Golf does provide a unique platform for experiencing such things together with people we have come to trust.