We played a match with me giving Jeff a stroke a hole. This I do at my peril because Jeff can shoot 84 or 94, depending on the day. He is, however, recovering from a nasty broken leg that required four plates and twenty four screws to mend his tibia that was broken in three places playing hockey.
I started with a double bogey on the par three first and basically just hung on for the first seven holes before getting birdies on eight and nine to shoot 39 and be all square with Jeff, who shot 46. After a par on ten and a quick double bogey on eleven, followed by a bogey on twelve I found myself down two again. It was shaping up to be another one of those days.
One thing that I seem to be learning in my old age, however, is patience. I can't hit the shots I used to be able to hit, but I'm seldom in trouble off the tee. I can't hit it far enough to get in trouble. Sure enough, I kept my cool and just kept hitting it and birdied fifteen and sixteen to go one up for the first time in the match. Pars on seventeen and eighteen were enough for me to win one up. It was a fun match that once again proved the value of handicaps. Golf is really the only game I know of that can have any player enjoy a close, competitive game with any other player, provided the strokes are right.
My best friend, Gerry, who is sadly no longer with us, was able to enjoy competing with me, and I with him, thanks to me giving him a stroke a hole. Provided we played match play, we almost always came down to the last couple of holes to determine the winner. Match play is definitely the way to go for the average player, so that the occasional "snow man" or worse can be quickly forgotten and the match continue. I really think people should play match play more often, like they do, or at least did, in Britain, rather than being worried about the score all the time. If people played match play more often, rounds would be faster as well, with there not being the need to grind over every shot, or two foot putt.
Another thing I've come to appreciate is that golf is meant to be played competitively. Walter Travis, who Bobby Jones said was the best putter of his day, said that you should always play for something, "even if it's only a ten cent cigar." I think it's true. If you aren't playing for something, you're really just practising. Golf is much more fun when you're trying to win. Winning really doesn't matter very much, but there's great reward in the trying.