I played a good deal of golf this past season. Many times I'd catch myself on the course with the convicting thought, "what are you doing out here again? The world desperately needs fixing and you're playing golf?"
Whether a lot of golf is a blessing is still up for grabs. Is it good for a grown man to be weeping in the woods after missing a short putt?
It's a puzzle why I spend so many hours on a golf course. The game isn't all that much fun and fulfilling. Most shots are less than one hopes for. Many are disasters. The rare excellent shot is just a couple of minutes away from being ruined by another bad shot. If it wasn't for the glories of nature, the miles of walking, the trash-talking with golfing buddies, the game would be a bust.
"What am I doing out here again" is my bargain basement version of Einstein's famous quote for insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The conclusion is that most golfers are insane.
One of the problems with leaving golf for something more enjoyable is that there isn't much else out there. After a close up view of pole vaulting in the park, I decided that the alternative of broken bones isn't too attractive.
I still believe I need a new activity in order to replace this form of insanity of irons, cups, greens, and roughs. I decided to investigate the world of sports and activities to see if there's another form of entertainment that is more exciting than golf.
Here's a warning. I didn't find much.
There are oodles and oodles of sports and events that could substitute for golf. How's this for a starter? Toe Wrestling. It was conceived in an English pub in 1976. Gee, I wonder what could have prompted that?
I've got a big problem with Toe Wrestling. My feet are not very attractive so if I made it to the final round of the world championship, millions would see my feet that look like they belong to Sasquatch. See my feet in HD and you'd vomit your popcorn.
I wouldn't mind exposing my heels to the feet wrestling public but not the toes. My heels are quite nice, even elegant in a certain light. My ankles are also above average but I think it would be a bit creepy to do ankle wrestling. Imagine this. It's warm summer afternoon when I would normally take to the fairways but instead I tell my wife, "I'm going over to Roger's to ankle wrestle." Yuck.
The more I think about this foot thing the creepier it gets. Even if my toes were gorgeous how would it play out exchanging toe touches with my golfing friend John for three hours on Tuesday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.?
Would heel wrestling pass for fun. "OK, Dennis, Let's put our heels together and push until one of us gives." A few hours of that versus bashing a golf ball? I don't think so.
A sport called Wife Carrying is popular in Finland. My wife doesn't golf so this would give us a chance to participate in a common endeavor, you know to strengthen the bonds of matrimony. Guys carry their wives through an obstacle course filled with water and mud. I presented this possibility to my wife and she never broke stride as she left the house with the declaration, "I'm going shopping."
I then considered a the Cheese Rolling contest in gloucestershire, England. This event has hundreds of Brits chase a rolling piece of cheese down a muddy hill and if you cross the finish line first, you win the cheese. I couldn't consume enough beer to even come close to chasing cheese.
Have you ever heard of the Birdman Competition? This involves human-powered flying machines that are driven off a pier with the challenge of flying the farthest before crashing into the water.
Since I refrain from trying to fly under my own power, I'd like to suggest the Golf Cart Competition. Disgruntled golfers could ride their carts and clubs off the pier instead. That would be an appropriate ending after the usual round of missed 3-foot putts.
There's a game called Blo-Ball. Two contestants at opposite ends of a table try to blow a ping pong ball past each other. This is a sport that one should stay away from if your opponent is in politics. He'd win with ease and probably have enough residual wind to put you through the wall.
Here's a contest that you probably have no knowledge of. It's called Extreme Ironing. Contestants travel to odd places, like a mountain top with an ironing board and proceed to iron clothes.
I suppose that one could turn most household chores into contest like Extreme Dusting. What great excitement; Swifters drawn at 20,000 feet with the goal of sweeping a glacier faster than your opponent.
That could escalate into a hot battle of Extreme Dish Washing where the first one who breaks a dish is tossed over a cliff.
The possibilities are many. We could engage in Extreme Sorting where the first contestant to complete pairing socks gets to advance to the Making the Bed competition.
Then we could have Underwater Bed Making contests. Two women flipping sheets and blankets in bikinis and you have a new Olympic sport.
And how about guys running an obstacle course in an Extreme Take Out the Garbage contest where the loser joins the garbage in a 33 gal bag?
Perhaps we could revive this one. There was actually an event called Distance Plunging that was contested once in the 1904 Olympics. A distance plunger would dive into a pool and float and bob like a cork for one minute. The guy or gal who bobbed the farthest was the winner. How proud one must be to stand on the podium with all the world recognizing your athletic prowess equaling that of a dead carp in the Dunkirk Harbor.
Here's one that would have the PETA people screaming to high heaven. In the 1900 Olympics Leon de Lunden shot 21 live pigeons to win the gold medal in Pigeon Shooting. I guess there weren't enough condors for the event
Here's one sport that I believe I could compete in with success. It's called the Auggiedog Stool Tool Mower Race. Two guys on rider lawn mowers race to the finish line with a Auggiedog Stool Tool picking up faux dog poop and then deposit it into a authorized Auggiedog waste receptacle. I'll have to do some serious practice due to the new 2012 rule legalizing a rolling start.
Perhaps tossing a caber might be fun. What's a caber? It's a 20 foot wooden pole that weighs about 150 pounds. The Scots invented this game probably after an intense day of belching haggis and a quart of scotch. The one who tosses a caber is given the clever name of a "tosser." Distance is not the only factor in determining the champion tosser. Points are given for the angle at which the caber lands. But after enough scotch is consumed, who really cares about the angle of the caber versus the angle of the tosser?
People actually compete in Wellie Wanging. A welly is a rainboot that is a common adornment in jolly old England. Wellie Wangers actually throw their wellies as far as they can under the guidelines of the World Welly Wanging Association Rules. I have no other comments on this story. I just like the way "World Wellie Wanging" trips from my tongue.
As you can see the alternatives to golf are slim and dim. It looks as though weeping in the woods ain't so bad.
Nin Privitera is a Fredonia resident whose column appears monthly. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org