Golf vs. Cycling

Posted by SuperClydesdale on March 20, 2010 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I tend to be attracted to activities that take an inordinate amount of time.   Immediate gratification hasn’t been important to me since I was an infant.  The challenge with this is that there are only so many hours in the day.   It’s very difficult to have several time-consuming hobbies, and still have enough time to have a healthy relationship with your family.   Kids are an incredible time sink.  It’s all about them.  And, once you have kids, you can’t just lock them in a box and forget about them – believe me, I tried, and all I got for that was a lot of legal problems and heartache. Some people.

So, with so many things that I enjoy, I have to pick.

I used to be a reasonable golfer.  I worked my handicap down to a 10, which is pretty respectable.  I’ve had a hole in one.    If I could putt, I would have been a scratch golfer.

I used to cycle a ton in college, but once I graduated and moved to Los Angeles, the bike just sat there.  When I got the cycling bug a few years ago, I started spending less and less time at the range, and those rounds of golf on the weekends just started slipping away.   It’s not generally advisable to go on a long bike ride on Saturday, then follow it up with a round of golf on Sunday.   If you’re not single, you will be after a long stretch of that sort of thing.

It used to be when I had line of sight to a few hours of free time, I would scramble to the range and work on my game.   If I had a free day on the weekends, I would go out golfing with friends.   Sometimes, on a summer afternoon, I’d sneak out with coworkers or customers.   In the longer days of summer, I could get nine holes in after work.   As a result, I was pretty good.  But, like anything else, the better you get, the more work it takes to get better.   But with golf, it takes exponentially longer to get better – to go from a 11 handicap to a 10 handicap is very difficult.

The better golfer you are, the greater the odds are that you’re in terrible shape.  Or divorced.   Anything that you can do with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other is not going to be done in your heart rate zone 3.  People who can’t see their feet still have a reasonable shot at being a good golfer.   I’ve never seen a golfer wear a heart rate monitor.   Golf makes bowling look like a step aerobics class.

Now, whenever I have a block of free time of an hour or more, the thought is “gee, I wonder if I can squeeze in a ride?”  If I have a free day on the weekend, I will plan a long ride.  It’s a totally different outlook.     Before I got back into cycling, I had peaked at 252 pounds.  I knew that I was setting myself up for health problems later in life, and needed to get to a more fitness-oriented lifestyle.

Of course, my golf game as slipped.  A bit.

I was invited to play in a golf tournament this week.  Since I haven’t played golf since last year, I thought it might be wise to go to the driving range to at least crack the rust on my golf swing.  Wow.  How far we fall.   I used to be that I would try to place my shots.   At the range this time, just getting the ball to go up in the air was a cause for celebration.  I was embarrassed to be with myself.  I pitied the poor people that were going to be in my foursome the next day.

Yesterday was the tournament, and to my dismay, it wasn’t a “best ball” scramble.  It was every man for himself.  Ouch.   I thought that with a scramble format, even though my golf game has gone to hell, I could contribute a shot or two to my team, and still have a good time.   Not so much.    I played so poorly that even had it been a scramble, my team would not have wanted any of my contributions.  They’d have reminded me after a while that with the ruptured disc in my back, I should probably just remain in the cart – “for my own safety,” and let them take what would have been my shot.

But, I kept reminding myself that, in exchange for a brutally embarrassing day, that there were probably not many people there that had a resting heart rate like mine, or as aerobically fit.  So, cycling has become yet another way for me to tell myself how much better I am than other people.  It’s a win-win.

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