The Game of Life
DECEMBER 7, 2008.
In 2008 the U.S. led a worldwide recession via what has come to be known by many as the sub-prime meltdown--the economic effects of loose practices in granting mortgages. This piece was originally published late 2008.
If you’ve got a heartbeat and can, on a good day, walk and chew gum at the same time, it’s pretty hard to not get emotional about what’s going on with the world economy. Frankly, it’s hard for me to write about golf. I can’t help obsessing over the end of the world.
I’d have no economic worries if someone gave me a dollar for every time in the last two months the words “plummet”, “plunge”, “crash”, and “nosedive” have been used. And while our bourgeois day to day lives may seem to not yet have changed all that noticeably, there’s no mistaking the fear in the eyes of the television commentators. You can even sense it between the lines in newsprint.
Depending on how far inland the impending Marxist storm surge reaches–a political attempt to re-engineer the natural laws of economics–we may manage to defer a good deal of our pocketbook pain for a moment. But the reality is, no magic pill exists that will completely absolve our dinero debauchery of the last twenty-five years (please call your physician if it lasts more than four hours–could cause blindness and sudden liver failure).
A recent article opined hope for golf. John Paul Newport wrote in the Wall Street Journal (“Playing Through Hard Times”), “There’s a chance, if we’re lucky, that the current economic crisis could make golf a better game.”
Sounds good, but the reality is the golf industry is not immune to the worst meltdown since Dorothy doused the Wicked Witch of the West. To wit, a recent report stated that around half of golfers will be cutting back on their fanatical frustration.
The reality is that sales of golf apparel and equipment are sliding as fast as a side hill putt at Augusta. Publicly traded shares of the golf OEMs are scaring long time lows. Many golf resort real estate developments are turning into ghost towns.
The golf industry is in the gorse.
Unfortunately, golf’s leaders aren’t going to have the opportunity to ride their EZ-Go Hybrids into D.C. with promises of $1 salaries designed to swindle Congress out of a few bil to save America and avert the next great depression.
The bottom line–and it’s all about the bottom line–is that our financial future is in jeopardy. The golf industry is in jeopardy. Our way of life is in jeopardy.
In discussing the last depression, Newport’s article quoted the Director of the U.S. Golf Association Museum: “This was the period during which golf became acceptable to a much wider range of people… The Works Progress Administration built more than 100 new golf courses nationwide, opening up the game to thousands. Women, forced by circumstances to work outside the home, took up the game in unprecedented numbers.”
The Great Depression was not a positive time for business. It was not a positive time for the golf industry. But circumstances provided for positive impact to the GAME of golf. The game of golf, versus the business of golf, transcends struggling economies and human conflict. It exists on a separate plane–one of passion, of obsession.
And even though our financial lives may be in upheaval while the business of life is suffering from uncontrollable negative forces, the game of life remains solidly within our control–transcendent of struggling economies and human conflict. This is the time of year when we slow down long enough to refocus on family, friends, and the “important” things in life.
Maybe we’ll hold onto and cherish those moments a bit longer than in the “better” years.