So there, I said it. This is a relatively new phenomenon in my life. Hang with me on this. If you’ve ever seen me tear into a Lou Malnati’s pizza, you’re probably going to say to yourself, “That pizza must be good and that dude must love pizza.” Here’s the rub, you’ll probably get the same inkling if you see me tear into a Domino’s pizza. It’s true, I do prefer Malnati’s to any pizza on earth, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of Domino’s also.
I’m beginning to take this same attitude about golf, but it’s been a long time coming. I feel like I’m moving past any sort of golf snobbery and realizing that this game is very rewarding no matter what the field of play.
I say this shortly after playing 18 holes last week on a course that I would have referred to in my past life as a dog track. But this time, I had a ton of fun and assert that the four hours I spent that day on the dog track may be dollar-for-dollar the best entertainment bargain in the history of mankind. I spent $15 to walk 18 holes. That’s four hours of fun for only $15. Show me where you can get that type of fun for $3.75/hour.
This was the least I’ve paid for golf in probably a decade. And, as you would expect, it was the ugliest course I’ve played over that same period. But, it was not the worst time I’ve had on the golf course over that period. In fact, it was only marginally less enjoyable and fulfilling than rounds I’ve played this year that have cost five or six times more.
What I recognize is that conditioning, design, shot values, and prestige, the expensive things, don’t drop directly to the bottom line for me any longer. I can have a boatload of fun, with rough bunkers and greens with bare spots. Mostly, I need a scorecard with 18 holes on it, at least 6,000 yards of golf, and puttable greens. This course, Carlyle Lakes, had that.
This could be a sign of old age because I notice this happening in other parts of my life. The bar for gaining my appreciation is so low. Just give me a burger done somewhere between medium rare and medium well, don’t put stuff in my coffee, and let me have a game on in the background (any game, even on mute). That’s all I need.
This may make me appear boring, maybe so. But note this: when something turns out to be unexpectedly valuable, by that I mean it exceeds expectations based on the price paid, then my satisfaction jumps exponentially and sends me into this appreciation tizzy. I remember paying like $22 to walk The Rail in Springfield one Friday afternoon a few summers ago on the way to my in-laws, and the experience exceeded every expectation I had. I walked off the 18th with this high that I can’t explain (of course, I shot an 81, so that contributed). It was this immense feeling of satisfaction and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. It just felt good inside, like I cheated the devil. It made the whole weekend better.
Anybody can lay down $100+ for an over-designed, perfectly conditioned course with a brick and stone clubhouse and free range balls and guarantee themselves a high degree of satisfaction. But the chance of being surprised with something unexpectedly cool is pretty much eliminated. You don’t always get what you pay for. Sometimes you get a lot more.