August 7th, 2020 | Golf-Fiction
"Football is like rock and roll, it's just BAM BAM BOO ... and basketball is like jazz, you know? You're kind of ... dupee doo, dupee do."
- M.G. Scott, entrepreneur and motivator
If we can assume the above is true both about football and about basketball, then let it be declared that Golf is a 12 hour recording of a breeze blowing through the woods, with soft and beautiful animal sounds intermixed throughout.
Golf is the best possible spectator sport to watch. Boom. There it is. No, you're wrong. It's not football or basketball. It's not baseball either. No, it's not DOTA either. Chess is pretty good, I'll give ya that. Chess is second. Chess is really good.
Golf is about as arbitrary as you can get for a sport. In lieu of something like soccer, where at least instinctively you understand, "ball go in net, I score. I score most, I win," Golf is just like, nah fuck that shit. Try to get this ball in this hole using only these weird sticks. Also do it in the least amount of hits as possible; lowest score wins. You can play this alone or concurrently against 10,000 other players, and literally nothing will change the dynamics of the game itself.
But within this weirdness, Golf is the best sport to watch. Golf starts early in the morning, clouds still dominating the sky, a grey hopeless wasteland above us starkly contrasted with an oasis of green below. Meticulously curated landscapes full of green grass, tan sand, deep blue-purple water and green-topped trees host the place where a bunch of white dudes are going to hit a little ball around and try to get it into a little hole. It's morning time and I'm drinking a coffee, listening to the classical music score that the broadcast has on it. The announcers greet me in a hushed voice, just a half-notch above a whisper, "Hello and welcome to the PGA Championship." I sip my coffee and nibble on a biscuit. I will sit here for literally half of the day and watch this impossibly quiet and boring spectacle play out, and nothing will be decided because there is still more golf to be played.
"How's the weather in Jersey? / I bet it's cold and grey."
The day presses on, grey clouds evaporate and reveal blue skies. We are watching a half-day marathon of a visual postcard. It's incredible. The announcers remain subtle and easy despite the day now being fully realized into something magnificent. Their commentary is vague and aloof, "he's going to want this one to break just a bit to the right." And then silence for 37 unbroken seconds. If you were only listening, you wouldn't know what was happening. Golf demands your full attention.
And it demands your full attention because it rewards your full attention. The transitions between action and commercial are often live-feed shots of a static location. Just 30 seconds of a tree overlooking a pond, with the background noise playing. It's an even deeper meditative break from something that is already a meditative break from the rest of the world. "Hey, I understand you're pretty invested right now if this one guy is going to hit the ball in the hole in four strokes or in five strokes, but take a break for a beat and look at this beautiful Juniper tree and listen to classical music. We'll get back in just a second."
"Take a deep breath and count to thirty, because we'll be back after this short message from our sponsors."
Golf, as a spectator sport, is also better than golf itself as a sport you actually play. Golf is hard. No, it's impossible. It's impossible to do it well. You can always "do golf" better; one stroke fewer, one shot better. You can always practice more, always get your six-iron a little more in the bag, always get your short game a little more refined. It's prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. It's exclusive by nature, and it's got fucking roots very deeply in colonialism. Golf fucking sucks.
But watching it on TV is something else. The camera shots they give you; tight up on a golfers shoes, the ball, and their putter, closer than your own eyes see things if you were taking a putt, are incredible. Other times they show a full-body shot of a golfer in the middle of the fairway, center-center in the frame, an ocean of green grass surrounding them, swinging a metal stick at a little plastic and rubber ball. It's a beautiful, meaningless abstraction of life itself. We're creating artificial naturescapes to do weird, unnatural things and judge ourselves and others accordingly on those dumb things we do. "I can hit this ball into this hole better than you can." "Fuck no you can't!"
Thirty years from now, billions of people will have their lives forever changed and ruined because of the cascading repercussions of climate change. But, hey, at least some dudes got to play golf.
According to the National Centre for Climate Restoration, by 2050 global sea level will rise by 0.5 meters, global temperatures will rise by 3 degrees, and 55 percent of the global population will have to annually endure 20+ days of lethal heat conditions with no viable survival option without relocation. That means that beach clean up efforts like this one, while hopeful, are meaningless. There simply won't be a beach here in 2050.