The other day Steve and I went to Salt Creek Golf Links near Warkworth. There we met Doug from Brighton who I'd played with a few days earlier for the first time. On the first tee, I announced that we would have a match; me against their best ball.
I sensed that Doug, who is fairly new to the game, was a little taken aback at this idea, wondering what he was getting himself in to. But as the round progressed, I think he enjoyed being part of "the game." In fact, after Steve got in trouble, Doug had to hang in there for their team, and he actually did more than just hang in there, he won two holes.
As often happens, it came down to the last few holes. In fact, Steve played well on the front and I found myself three down after ten. In the end, we were all square playing eighteen. It doesn't really matter who won, it just added something to the day for me. Steve and I are not inclined to be ultra competitive on the golf course. Put a hockey stick in my hand and I'm a different animal, but playing golf I tend to want my opponent to play well. I like to win, but I prefer it to be close. I hope Doug enjoyed the day as much as Steve and I did. I think having a friendly match helped us play a little harder, and added some pressure, which helps you focus.
If you aren't playing for something, you're not really playing golf, you're just practising. I like the quote I found from Walter J. Travis. He said:
"The human element in the shape of an opponent is essential. Always play for something, no matter how small, even though it only be a black cigar."
He also said:
"I only bet a quarter, but I play each shot as if it were for a championship."
That quote reminds me of Carl the Grinder, who plays for two bucks as though it was the Open championship. My father always played for a dime a hole, or a dime a stroke--double for birdies. It doesn't matter what you play for, as long as you play for something, and you play your hardest. That's the way to really enjoy golf.
And yes, Bobby Jones said the same thing, so it must be so.