The words of pop group Abba about desired wealth, spotlight the issue golf has in today’s society and gives us a reason to start a story with lyrics from Abba (win-win). Golf has a problem and that is the short-sided thinking that golf is a rich man’s game. First, let’s review the facts and the dollars and cents of why it is said that “golf is a rich man’s game”.
Obvious expenses to play golf pop right out. Tally up club or course fees, equipment cost, travel expense, not to mention potential food and beverage costs, or the occasional side-betting that goes on within friendly competition. Suddenly the debit side of the ledger can go as deeply into the red as you want.
While golf can be expensive, the passion for the game lies in the heart of people like PGA player, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, whose story you will read in a bit. Spoiler alert, he was poor.
Golf is happiness worthy of consumption either conspicuously frugal or extravagant. It doesn’t take any effort to be extravagant obviously. Just throw your money around. Book any course you desire. Pay bag fees or fly your private jet to any course in the world. Buy the best club made (it won’t necessarily improve your game) and dine at the most luxurious clubhouses.
But the game is still the game. You are hitting a small dimpled sphere with a blunt-faced object, with a degree of angle, at a designated amount of force toward a very small target that lies a measured distance away with hazards. That is the game.
The Rags to Riches’ story of Rodriguez, who played the PGA season tour in 2019 speaks of the starry-eyed potential. Not necessarily finishing in the fame category, ranking 177th at the end of the season, nevertheless he was there. Coming from absolutely nothing in economic standard, he forced his love of the game to take him much further than even he believed possible.
His Cinderella story sounds almost too Caddyshack’esque to believe. He grew up in Mexico, learning to hit golf balls with a club fashioned of rebar and bicycle tire grip. He begins serving as a caddie where he catches the eye of a patron who sets him up with a club membership. Then he illegally immigrates to the US for hopes of a better life where he works many manual labor jobs finally ending up in a golf course maintenance role where he plays the course himself after his work shift ended.
After missing his home in Mexico he returned where his patron of earlier days reappears and boosts Rodriguez into consistent play, tournament action in Mexico and Canada, and eventually earning an unbelievable dream…his 2019 spot on the PGA tour.
The moral of this story is easily misguided though. Yes, Cinderella stories do still happen. Yes, rich men can sponsor an athlete and turn him into a public champion. Looking between the years of Rodriguez’s story though still lies the real moral of this story. Even if you can’t play like a rich man, if the game “floats your boat” so to speak, then play.
It isn’t the scores of the PGA that tell the story. It’s the rebar and bicycle tire grips. It isn’t the wins and trophies that tell the story. It is Rodriguez’s wife’s words that tell the story. As he would allow his insecurities to rise up, saying “It’s a game of rich people,” the words his wife would give are the ultimate truth.
’No, you go play. It’s the golf clubs that talk. You have money, you don’t have money, the clubs don’t care.’”
Just Go Play
How does someone who doesn’t work for a Fortune 500 company or fall in the 25% tax bracket enjoy a sport that brings sunshine into your day, and adds a tranquil walk along grass and greens? How much does it take a day to erase the confines of a factory, the cramped workday of a cubicle, or the stress of the hustle and grind?
Go hit 100 Molitor balls into a field. Hit a wiffle ball into a bucket in your backyard. Walk nine holes at your local municipal course that hasn’t mowed a fairway since 2015 and let the stress of life fade away.
When all is said and done, how much it cost isn’t the story. The clubs don’t care! The ball doesn’t care!
Most importantly the game doesn’t care how much you spent that day. Just go play.
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