Growing up, I noticed that there was a big difference between the people I knew who played tennis and the people I knew who golfed. The difference was I didn’t know any people who played golf.
But we all played tennis. A lot of us kids went to the backboards or the courts at the nearby playground or park with our rackety old rackets and dead mouse-gray tennis balls, whose white fuzzy covering had long departed.
Years later, having outgrown being poor, I joined a country club. To my delight, the courts did not have metal nets which chewed up the balls, and the surface was not criss crossed with tar lines and dotted with clumps of weeds.
To my further astonished delight, I saw, closeup, my first golf course.
Tears came to my eyes. Golf and tennis could coexist. (Anything really can, if you’ve got enough money.)
But usually there is a strong preference for one over the other, and there are still many tennis enthusiasts who scorn golf, golfers, and friends of golfers. And there are avid golfers who make impolite sounds when the subject of tennis comes up.
Of course there are millions, or at least dozens, of “Real Americans” who eschew both, and only accept baseball, football, and women’s mud wrestling as true sports. To them the only virtue of golf and tennis is that neither one is soccer.
Okay, now we’re going to cover the biggest difference between golf players and tennisers.
The difference is memory!
“What did you say?”
Very funny. Yes, it’s memory. Tennis players not only have a gnat’s attention span, we’ve got an even worse memory. And we’re fine with that. Here’s a typical example; You and your opponent have just finished a grueling, hard fought, should-have-been-televised (should-have-been memorable) match. You head up to the juice bar, which despite its name, has put alcohol back in after the newly stressed health emphasis failed to attract any customers, and had, in fact, driven away the old ones.
Up until the time the drinks are served, the extent of the conversation is “Nice playing.”
“Thanks, good match.”
You each tip one back and this short, forgettable discussion follows, with him beginning, “That was a good shot you had in the second set.”
“Which one? Oh, you mean my overhead smash that gave you a nosebleed?
“Yeah, I couldn’t get out of the way.”
“Thanks, I’ve been working on my overhead.”
That about sums it up, until he says. “What was the final score? I’ve got to turn it in to my team captain.
I think it was 6-2, 6-3, or was it 7-5, 6-1?”
“ It might have been 6-0, 10-8. Wait, did we play two or was it three sets?
Now we come to the golfer. All golfers are cursed with total recall.
Cursed? Isn’t that a little strong? No.
Follow me. You’re savoring a drink on the 19th hole, when two latter day Palmers stagger in after a tough 18 holes in pursuit of the beer cart.
Let’s listen in.
“Say, did you ever play Maple Elm Babbling Runamuck?”
“The one in downtown West Virginia? Yeah I played there once about 10 years and two months ago.”
“Well, you know the third hole?”
“Sure. 405 yards, dog leg to the left. Big elms on the right.“
“Well, I almost made par on that. My drive was just 300 yards short.”
“Wow. That reminds me of the time I played the fifteenth at Native American Pine Willows. I was lying two, so I reached for my 3 1/2 iron…Oh, did I mention I was using those new clubs with the cartilage shafts? Anyways, you’ll remember that there’s a sand trap about 25 yards from the green, so I kept my elbows akimbo, glarnced sidways at the ball, adjusted for the crease in my knickers…”
“Oh, yeah. that’s the most imporant part, plus…”
Maybe we should give soccer another chance.