Golf is one of the most challenging and frustrating sports out there. But it can also be one of the most rewarding when you find that perfect shot, shoot your best round, or make a discovery that gives you hope for better things to come. What if you looked at a crystal golf ball and saw that it would never get any better than it is today, in fact, it will only get worse? Would you keep playing?
Yes, says Fergus Bisset
For starters, I will always believe that I can improve. Yes, I will inevitably find that I’m losing distance over the next 10 years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improve my overall game. My short game needs considerable work and my accuracy is sometimes questionable due to poor pacing – it’s something I’m getting better at recognizing and correcting as I get older and slower. One area where I think most of us improve as we age is golf strategy. I feel like I’m a much better strategic golfer now than I was in my youth. The other day I even found myself chipping sideways from thick rough edges rather than trying to blast it forward.
Even if a fortune teller showed me a glimpse of a bleak future in golf, I would still play. At the center of this, to borrow from an ancient Scottish text, I play “not for honor, wealth, or glory, but only for the freedom that no true man gives up, but with his life.” For me golf is freedom. It is freedom from the mundane, freedom from everyday worries, freedom to breathe. Golf gives you the opportunity to succeed, but the freedom to fail. Playing golf is one of life’s great pleasures and I won’t give up as long as my legs carry me and my arms catch a club.
I wouldn’t stop if my handicap went up from here and it never stopped going up, I wouldn’t care if I never won another club event (I can’t remember the last time I won). I’m sure I will continue to enjoy the entire golf experience – from organizing my kit to post-round beer. Golf is a part of my life and my life would be shorter without it.
No, says Jeremy Ellwood
Listen, I know there’s an inevitability to this, as Father Time eventually catches up with all golfers, and the golf club is up to most golfers to face that reality and decide that the answer must be yes.
But this year has hinted that my answer may turn out to be ‘no’ when the time comes. I struggled, despite occasional glimpses of ‘normal service’, and there is no doubt that not being able to play as well as I used to have reduced my enjoyment to the point where I considered replacing golf with simply walking, on the grounds that you can’t really ‘make’ walk wrong (unless you sprain your ankle, of course).
Not that I was good in an absolute sense, but I somehow held a 5 or 6 downside for two decades, despite a dubious swing. People may say, “At least you’re not doing this for a living,” but while I understand what they mean, surely if I’m not doing this for a living, it’s even more important that I actually enjoy it. , otherwise what’s the point?
Yes, I may very well get over that, and improvements in certain areas after a club race offered glimmers of hope. But the reality is that I’m approaching 60 and the years that go by are taking their toll both physically and mentally. I can come out of it and accept that it is what it is, but now I’m struggling to feel it. Most golfers must come to a similar crossroads and come to a different conclusion. Golf has been a big part of my life, so I hope I can still join them… but at the moment, I can’t see it. But I still haven’t stopped believing that I can arrest or even reverse my current decline, so we’re not there yet.