Those who don't play golf must tire of hearing - from those of us who do - about the virtues of the game, about its allure, its complex nature, its inner beauty, its rich history draped in mist and filled with the sound of shouting for heroic deeds ... ah, there I go again, running on.
There is something there, though, something about golf that goes beyond what is revealed to the eye. To experience it, you must play, and while you do, though your shots may stray like frightened chickens, there is beauty to behold and joy to be had.
Way back in 1908, a writer named Arnold Haultain published a wonderful little book entitled "The Mystery Of Golf."
In his opening paragraph, Haultain wrote, "Three things there are as unfathomable as they are fascinating to the masculine mind: metaphysics; golf; and the feminine heart. The Germans, I believe, pretend to have solved some of the riddles of the first, and the French to have unraveled some of the intricacies of the last; will someone tell us wherein lies the extraordinary fascination of golf?"
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Another author, Michael Murphy, attempted to answer this in "Golf In The Kingdom."
One of the characters, Shivas Irons, says, "Fascination is the true and proper mother of discipline. And gowf is a place to practice fascination. 'Tis slow enough to concentrate the mind and complex enough to require our many parts. In that 'tis a microcosm of the world's larger discipline.
"Our feelin's, fantasies, thoughts and muscles, all must join to play. In gowf ye see the essence of what the world itself demands. Inclusion of all our parts, alignment o' them all with one another and with the clubs and with the ball, with all the land we play on and with our playin' partners.
"The game requires us to join ourselves to the weather, to know the subtle energies that change each day upon the links and the subtle feelin's of those around us. It rewards us when we bring them all together, our bodies and our minds, our feelin's and our fantasies - rewards us when we do and treats us badly when we don't. The game is a mighty teacher - never deviatin' from its sacred rools, always ready to lead us on. In all o' that 'tis a microcosm o' the world, a good stage for the drama of our self discovery."
I prefer the simpler thoughts on the subject offered by another character in the book, Agatha. Speaking about golf and the love men have for one another, she said, "It's the only reason ye play at all. It's the way ye've found to get together and yet maintain a proper distance. I know you men. Yer not like women or Italians huggin' and embracin' each other. Ye need tae feel yer separate love.
"Just look-ye winna come home on time if yer with the boys, I've learned that o'er the years. The love ye feel for your friends is too strong for that.
"All those gentlemanly rools, why, they're the proper rools of affection - all the waitin' and oohin' and ahin' o'er yer shots, all the talk o' this one's drive and that one's putt and the other one's gorgeous swing -what is it all but love?
"Men lovin' men, that's what golf is.
"Oh, golf is for smellin' heather and cut grass and walkin' fast across the countryside and feelin' the wind and watchin' the sun go down and seein' your friends hit good shots and hittin' some yourself.
"It's love and it's feelin' the splendor o' this good world."