18 Good Things About Golf: No. 1

My wife used to view my infatuation with golf as the moral equivalent of a love for vivisection or human trafficking. (“I didn’t marry a golfer,” she sneered at one point.) She eventually came around, thanks to John Updike and her own sudden interest in ice hockey, a game she started playing when she turned forty. (When she went to goalie camp, as a beginner, she was placed in a group of 6-11-year-olds and spent a lot of time helping them lace up their skates and go to the bathroom.) Now, she often borrows my Bob Rotella books, which she says help her on the ice, and we sometimes watch golf or hockey on TV together. This past weekend, during the W.G.C.-Accenture Match Play Championship, she recognized Rory McIlroy from behind, by his walk. Similarly, I now almost understand what “offside” means in hockey.

Not every golfer has a spouse who’s as highly evolved as mine. Such golfers might find it useful to make a list of the game’s positive features, for consultation during arguments like the ones that used to take place in my house. Here’s the first:

1. Golf is just a game. Games don’t do anything to solve the world’s problems, but they don’t do very much to make most of them worse, either. That is more than can be said about a lot of the things that a lot of people spend a lot of their time doing.