‘Tis the Season

Today was the first day of my golf season, and I really missed it. It was nice outside, so I figured that I’d run some errands. While on my way back home, I saw that there were a ton of people at the local driving range, so I decided to stop by and hit a few dozen balls.

Everyone who has ever golfed can understand how badly the first time out goes, but today was different. I usually get two buckets: one to practice my short game, and one for my long game. The first swing felt good, sounded good, but shifted off to the right at the last second, which really pissed me off. “It’s your first time out in 5 months, you’re gonna suck a little bit.” I thought to myself, but I just kept going until I found my groove and started crushing it.

I like to have some fun when I practice my short game; there’s a little stream maybe 75 yards downrange, so I practice shooting balls into that stream. It’s perfect for those shots that fall just short of the green, which is an annoyingly-common problem for me, since my long-to-middle game is hot garbage for the first 3 months of the season, before turning into lukewarm garbage by the end of the season. I sink maybe 15 balls into the stream, refilling my confidence in my short game.

As I pull out my driver, the one club I can never use properly, I started to remember all the little adjustments in my swing that I’d been working on all last summer. The first shot was perfect, 250 right down the middle, with that sexy-ass PING on contact. The second shot went 15 feet. Shit. Good thing it’s only March.  The high point of today was when I Robinhood-ed another person’s ball out of mid-air, which is ridiculous, and probably won’t ever happen to me again, so I’m glad I can write it down so I’ll remember the moment.

The Happiest Place on Earth

I’m incredibly lucky. Have you ever had someone tell you to “Go to your happy place”? Well, it’s a little easier for me to do since I can actually physically go to mine. Ever since I can remember, my family has gone up to Frye Island Maine, it’s a tradition I hope to pass down someday. I’ve been going up for almost 20 years, and it’s part of the reason I am who I am today. This place means the world to me, I’ve even got the town crest tattooed on my chest.

Frye Island is nestled in the middle of Sebago Lake, not quite an hour away from Portland. This leafy-green paradise is where I’ve spent every summer since I was six years old, and I don’t regret a second of it. The people there are, for the most part, warm, friendly people who will help out their neighbors at a drop of a hat. Islanders are a different sort of folk. The majority of them are retired folks over 60 who come up here when Florida gets too hot for them, but there are people from all walks of life here. I met all my best friends here: the people I care about the most just happen to live within walking distance of my house. The Island is a place befitting a Steven King novel, it seems permanently stuck in the past, and that’s not a bad thing.

Frye Island is unique. You can see that before you even get there. Before you even get on the Island, you have to take a ferry that’s older than most of the people riding it, over to the landing. Once you get off the ferry, you might be surprised at what you see: golf carts as far as the eye can see. People use golf carts because 1) it’s a small island, 2) because it’s easier on the wallet than driving a car, and 3) because it’s damn near impossible to fuck up driving. Another fun little secret: people here drink like Prohibition starts at the end of the day.

The alcohol consumption of Frye Island is unmatched by any community, except maybe Wolf of Wall Street-style stock brokers. Just last night I saw a 50 year old man drink himself into such a stupor, that he decided to cut through the neighboring golf course to get home, which is the exact opposite way he came. These people party like a sorority girl on her 21st birthday, another time I was at the bar waiting for my drink, only to have a Jager Bomb dropped into my hands by a 45 year-old woman who was buying them for the whole bar. I’ve gotta hand it to them, I can’t drink like these people do, and I’m no slouch myself.

Frye Island is full of things to do, from waterskiing to golfing, to tennis and basketball, to arts and crafts and trivia. My love of golf was started at the Frye Island Golf Course, most of the hats I own I bought at the pro shop, the course is gorgeous, and just challenging enough that you can play it repeatedly, but not too tough that you cuss out the course and quit. The Island is also home to Mike Anson, a local musician who breaks out his guitar and sings for the crowd and cracks jokes at the bar. If you just want to sit back and relax in peace, don’t worry, Frye Island has 14 public beaches for you to choose from.

I love everything about Frye Island; I love being woken up by the sound if waves crashing against the rocks, I love the subtle hum of boat engines in the distance, I love driving to the beach and drinking a case of beer and enjoying the sun, and most of all, I love the people that make the community great. If you ever get the chance to come out to Frye Island, do it. You won’t regret it, and you might even want to come back.

Why Golf is the Most Underrated Sport

Image result for golf courses

What do you think of when you think of golf? Old white people talking business? Douchey frat guys blasting Dave Matthews and shotgunning Natty Lights? Here’s how I see golf; you’re outside on what’s usually a beautiful day, you’re getting a little bit of excercise (but not enough to get super sweaty and gross), you’re hanging out with your friends, talking shit when they slice one into the woods. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Now add a cooler filled with beer and some reefer, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a day. Then there’s the sport itself.

Golf, to me, is an escape. Whenever I’m feeling depressed and empty and can barely get out of bed, I force myself up and go to the driving range. For however long it takes, I get a couple buckets of balls, put my headphones in, take a few hits of my dab pen, and empty my mind for a little while. This is one of my favorite things in the world, and one of the few times I’m genuinely happy.

Golf is more about strategy and patience than people think. You need to know where you want to shoot, where you can go from there, which club to use to get the shot you need, and what possible ways the shot can go wrong. This all requires patience and foresight that many people don’t have. Golf is a great way to get to know people, you see how they handle setbacks, you see if they can contain anger, you see how they think, you see their adversity to risk, and you also see how they handle their drink. I totally get why executives play golf with each other. I like playing with new people, (to a point, golf also lets you know if someone’s an asshole), but there’s nothing like playing with your friends and not keeping score.

So the next time you hear people talking about golf being boring, ask them if they’ve ever played before. The answer is usually “No”

“But I’m not some richy-rich asshole, I can’t afford to golf” You might be surprised. There are things called “executive courses” that are condensed versions of full courses, meant to be played in under an hour. “But I can’t afford clubs/balls/tees!” Wrong again. I’ve maybe spent 3 dollars on tees in my 15 year golf career, you can just pick them up off the course, same with golf balls. Clubs are where the problem lies. I got my current clubs for Christmas when I was 15, and I’ve been using them ever since, so if you treat your clubs with love, they’ll keep up for years. You can get a cheap set of used clubs for around 75 dollars at a thrift shop. If you don’t have thrift shops around you, wait til winter, prices go down, people start selling them, equipment goes on sale, you can get everything you need.

Golf is more than just a game, it’s a social environment. The clubhouse at your local course is a great way to network and meet like-minded people who share at least one interest. Golf has gotten me summer jobs, it’s gotten me closer to my friends and family, it’s gotten me peace of mind, and it’s gotten me a better understanding of how people think.

I hope I’ve opened your mind a little bit, because as I get older, I realize that’s what counts: experiences you wrote off because you thought you were above it, but are actually super cool. Golf is something I wrote off as “old people shit” when I was younger, but the older I get, the more I appreciate it.