Yes, because I don't have enough helpless anger and frustration in my life. I go out seeking MORE, and I pay for the privilege.
Anyway, last week I had the round of my life. Twenty-one over par. 91 strokes on a par 70 course. For a pro that would be terrible, but it was the first time I've ever broken 100, and it beat my prior best score by ten strokes.
This week I went out to the same course and... had the round I usually have instead.
The worst hole was the fifth hole. The fifth hole at Livingston Municipal Golf Course is a par 3, 170 yards, which means a skilled golfer is expected to hit the ball between 160 and 180 yards accurately enough to leave the ball on the putting green, and then take two putts to get the ball in the actual hole. Last week I shot a 5 the first time, a 3 the second time. (Livingston has only 9 holes, so a full game requires you go round the course twice.)
So what happened on Monday?
Tee up the ball. Swing, catch the ball on the toe of the club, see it wobble right like a wounded duck out of bounds.
I take a mulligan. Mulligans, or 'breakfast balls', are not to be found in the PGA rulebook, but they're common among ordinary, non-betting golfers. They're basically a do-over, usually limited to the tee shot, tolerated because the other golfers feel sorry for someone whose first shot went left or right farther than it went forward. And I take between two and seven a round, depending.
So, mulligan. I come down on top of the ball this time, knocking it into the turf of the tee box hard enough to leave a furrow. Having expended most of its energy into the dirt, the ball bounces feebly twenty yards forward into the creek.
No more mulligans. Ball in water off the tee is a stroke penalty and tee off again. According to the rules, my second stroke puts the ball back on the tee. My third stroke does exactly the same thing as the first stroke did.
Now, for those of you who are keeping track, I have now lost three balls, used up four strokes (six if I wasn't using a mulligan), and I'm not off the tee box yet.
My fifth stroke gets in the air and across the creek... and soars like a bullet to the left, about 160 yards. Luckily for me, the course recently dug up another water hazard and left piles of dirt alongside it. My ball is caught by one such pile, which counts as ground under repair. I can take a free drop out of this, which I do.
Pity it doesn't help. My sixth stroke barely touches the ball, which goes about four feet. My seventh stroke actually gets me onto the green.
Putting time. My first putt runs twelve feet past the hole. My second putt falls six inches short. My third putt goes in.
Ten strokes. On a hole where a skilled golfer should only need three, and which I usually manage in five.
The second time around I managed a four- a bogey- but by then it really was too late to mend things.
And this is what I set aside a day a week, when I have it, to do.
And somehow, despite this, my blood pressure comes in at 105 over 65 or thereabouts whenever I check it.