[A list that can be cited during golf-related domestic crises.]
14. Golf is a game of good and bad luck. It is played on purpose under circumstances which ensure that superior skill alone will not always determine the victor. A perfectly struck drive may land on a sprinkler head and carom out of bounds: double-bogey. A ball sliced out of bounds may hit a tree and ricochet back to the middle of the fairway: birdie. In an attractively thought-provoking way, golf is frequently unfair. The player who drains a sixty-foot putt to close out a match knows that his victorious stroke was the sum of a thousand offsetting errors and accidents, which could have added up in a different way. The tension between lucky breaks and undeserved disasters helps turn hackers into obsessives and philosophers. To make tennis comparably sublime, you’d have to shift the lines during rallies and randomly lift and lower the net. Perhaps as a consequence, golfers tend to be more gracious in defeat and less pompous in victory than other athletes. (I’ve heard this, anyway.)
To be continued.