Well, not men, strictly speaking. More like what men are programmed to do. Fact is, theres too much macho in a lot of our games, and we suffer for it.
Those of you who have not immediately consigned this column to the bottom of the birdcage may wonder what prompted this notion. Ill confess:
It has finally happened. I am two-tenths of a stroke worse than my wife.
We have a handicap club here at The Golf Channel, one of those golf-clubs-without-real-estate that enable folks who dont belong to a traditional club to play together and have a valid GHIN number. I stopped by the bulletin board to pick up my sticker the other day and grimaced at what my uneven ball striking has done to me: An index of 26.6. My wife doesnt work here, but she is also a member. I picked up her sticker too.
Uh-oh, I said almost involuntarily, just as a colleague walked by. He looked at the stickers in my hands.
Oh man, he said. I wouldnt let anyone know about that. And off he went.
Well, why the hell not, I thought. Is it that big a deal? I mean, put aside the fact that my wife, an excellent mother to our son, has only been able to post four rounds this year, and I have logged 20. Why should a guy care if his wife is better than him? Its a hard game.
Step onto any first tee on any Saturday morning with a quartet of guys, and you can see it. Qui es muy macho?, worked out in head size and yardage. No matter what guys say about straight being better than long, no one wants to be the first to hit his second shot.
Add to that the history of this game, and of the man-centered American society at the time golf took hold here, and you have a potent testosterone brew rushing through the veins of most men who play golf. And remember how our dads (and even moms) taught us sports when we were little? Hit it harder, Danny! Wallop it! Too late, we discover that grace has more to do with a good swing that brute strength.
As a result, many of us overspend and overswing. The gotta-have-the-latest customer always buys the next big thing for that bag appeal. The receiving end of foursome envy feels good. And its hard to lose the notion that muscle is the driving force behind a driver.
Women generally dont suffer from this disease. Even the skilled women players I know seem to be more concerned about the breadth of the game than male recreational players I encounter. For some men, its all about the home run. For many women, its about the whole game, short and long.
It would be natural for you to think, Well, he has to say that. Guy cant beat his wife, fer Petes sake. Well, maybe that has something to do with it. But I doubt it. Neither my marriage nor my manhood suffers from my variable golf game. What really convinces me that weve all gone a little too Fernando Lamas is my recent experience with golf when Im playing well.
Ill boil it down: Fairways are nirvana. Longer drives are trailer parks disguised as paradise. For me and millions of others, the best reward for a smooth swing is a dot of white on bright, short green grass.
Of course, long drives are crucial to sustained skilled play. The best amateur men are almost all long hitters, and Tour players in the 260-yard range are considered short. But for us recreational players, for whom a nutted drive is 235 (and who must endure a higher proportion of off-the-world pokes), more accuracy and less posturing would make the game more enjoyable.
The lure of distance persists like a teen-age boys dreams of Britney Spears. So goes the industry. But as for me, Im comfortable enough with myself to go a little shorter ' and straighter.
[ahem] Umyour honor, honey.