Over the last two summers, I didn’t work one single summer Friday. Not one. Everyone I worked with knew I was starting my weekend early, and calling to ask me a question about work was utterly pointless because I was probably floating aimlessly around a pool or playing a solo round of golf. Every Wednesday afternoon after lunch, I’d go through my phone plotting which course I’d play before the grind of partying all weekend began that Friday night. And after making a tee-time, I’d toss a giant “BUSY” block on my work calendar ensuring everyone knew I couldn’t be reached.
Friday would come and I’d start my morning slow with breakfast, coffee, and an iPad Wall Street Journal session before heading to the course. I’d check in, drop a couple jokes in the clubhouse, and go out to the course just trying to break 90 before happy hour.
Sounds pretty great, right? Well the best part of the entire gig wasn’t playing nice courses, enjoying a couple cocktails, or getting some fresh air coming off Lake Michigan. No. The best part was that I was playing completely alone.
See, booking a one-man tee time was like therapy for me. And while therapy may have been cheaper after greens fees, $12 brats, and $28 six-packs of imported beer from the halfway house, I sure as hell reaped all the benefits of seeing a shrink. Noted golf instructor Jim Flick once said, “90% of golf is mental, and the other 10% is mental too.” Sure, when you’re out there with your boys tipping back coldies and harassing cart girls, the last thing you care about is getting a little peace of mind because you’re too occupied chirping at each other and throwing out bets. But when you’re flying private, you’ve got all the time in the world to sort your shit out. Ain’t no noise but the chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the whoosh of a perfectly struck drive.
There’s a serenity to being alone. Yeah, putting together a perfect foursome of dudes is a skill, but everyone’s got their demons. There’s the guy who plays music you hate from his cart, the guy who gets too frustrated and makes you afraid to talk on the green for fear or setting him off, or the guy who gets too fucked up and doesn’t finish the round. But when you cut the fat and get on your own program, you find yourself in a controlled environment where everything is in your hands.
You’re choosing the playlist, you’re skipping that par-3 that’s been haunting you since childhood, and you get to post up on the most scenic hole and hit six consecutive drives into the horizon. For those 18 holes, it’s your world and everyone else is just living in it.
There’s no one around saying, “Hey man, you probably shouldn’t go shoeless,” or “Dude, do you have swamp ass?” Nope. Instead, you’ve got the time to play two balls instead of one because you’re not spending most of your time pretending to look for your buddy’s ball after he duck-hooked a drive into the shit. You’re not marking your ball and tip-toeing around your buddies line only to see him hit it too hard past the hole and scream, “Hit a house!” You’re not tending a pin or sweating in the sun while someone worm-burns it up the rough only to end up with a quad.
Thoreau said, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” And while solitude doesn’t give you two-footers for par that you probably would have missed otherwise, it sure as hell beats worrying about slowing down three other guys when I’m working on my tempo. .