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John Updike
Although not his most famous work, Updike wrote about golf throughout his career. An 18 handicapper, he sees the game from the ordinary player's point of view, with both humour and pathos.

Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five.

The golf swing is like a suitcase into which we are trying to pack one too many things.

Many men are more faithful to their golf partners than to their wives and have stuck with them longer.

What other sport holds out hope of improvement to a man or a woman over fifty? True, the pros begin to falter at around forty, but it is their putting nerves that go, not their swings. For a duffer like [me], the room for improvement is so vast that three lifetimes could be spent roaming the fiarways carving away at it, convinced that perfection lies just over the next rise. And that hope, perhaps, is the kindest bliss of all that golf bestows upon its devotees.

"Hit it with the back of your left hand" was the first swing thought I ever heard, brusquely bu not unlovingly put to me by the aunt-in-law who had moments before placed a golf club in my virgin grip. I was twenty-five, and had spent my youth in a cloisterd precinct of teh middle class where golf was a rumoured something, like champagne breakfasts and divorce, that the rich did. all souls are equal before their Maker, a two inch putt counts the same as a 250 yard drive. There is a comedy in this and a certain unfairness even, which makes golf an even apter mirror of reality.

There was clearly great charm and worth in a sport so quaintly perverse in its basic instructions. Hit down to make the ball rise. Swing easy to make it go far. Finish high to make it go straight.

The difficulty is, all swing thoughts decay, like radium. What burnt up the course on Wednesday has turned to lead on Sunday. Yet it does not do to have a blank mind: the terrible hugeness of the course will rush into the vacuum and the ball will spray like a thing berserk.

In no other sport must the spectator move.

Golf camaraderie, like that of astronauts and Antarctic explorers, is based on a common experience of transcendence; fat or thin, scratch or duffer, we have been somerwhere together where non-golfers never go.

Dream golf is simply golf played on another course. We chip from glass tables onto moving stairways; we swing in a straightjacket, through masses of cobweb, and awaken not with any sense of unjust hazard but only with a regret that the round can never be completed, and that one of our phantasmal companions has kept the scorecard.

I assume my stance, and take back the club, low, slowly; at the top, my eyes fog over, and my joints dip and swirl like barn swallows, I swing. There is a fruitless commotion of dust and rubber at my feet. "Smothered it," I say promptly. After enough lessons the terminology becomes second nature.

The other sad truth about golf spectatorship is that for today's pros it all comes down to the putting, and that the difference between a putt that drops and one that rims the cup, though teleologically enormous, is intellectually negligeable. (talking about The Masters)


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