In Praise of Solo Golf
By Art Stricklin
When golf writing and golf travel is your job and your passion, you're extremely fortunate to play golf, lots and lots of golf.
While recently in Ireland for a golf trip I had a chance to rediscover why I was originally ensnared by this great game. Twice on this week-long trip, which included a preview of the 2019 British Open site at Portrush, Northern Ireland, I had the chance to play solo carrying my own bag for 9 or more holes, and those provided the twin highlights.
Walking solo, across the uneven links terrain, carrying my light carry bag and hoping I could find my next shot while admiring the majestic surrounding.
No cart girl to offer any refreshments, no groups to play through or wait on, no ranger to chat up, no buddies to harass with the latest one-liners or amaze with breaking sports news, just you and the course and the clubs and the weather and the scenic background.
To me, it got down to what I have always felt was the essence of golf. Either you enjoy the self-styled hole by hole challenge of you against the elements and the layout, hoping for overall or at least temporary success, enjoyment and accomplishment, or you don't.
You enjoy the exercise, the outdoors, the chance to think clearly, have a familiar musical tunes play in your head or just the opportunity to be disconnected from the outside world in a time when that is becoming harder and harder to do.
My first chance to experience this in Ireland was also the best and most memorable (isn't that usually the way it works). We had played in Dublin in the morning and were headed north, but my colleague had never seen Royal County Down, annually ranked as one of the top 10 courses in the world, so a detour was in order.
We arrived at RCD (as the locals call it) with bright sunshine, but well after closing time. We briefly looked around, failed to see anyone there and was headed back to the car when my golf writing friend said there was still plenty of time to play some holes at the famous course.
I considered it for a moment and looked up to see a twosome going off the first tee (Member? Local? Solo Golf fan like me?, I was never sure), so we hurried to the car to get out the clubs and headed to the first tee. My friend had to drop out after only four holes, so I was alone on one of the world's greatest courses, chasing my ball, practicing my craft, limited though it may be, and grateful for the opportunity.
There were some poor shots, some indifferent, and some good, but I keep going, keeping score in my head until I could write it down later. Sadly I left after 10 holes, as lodging was still 2 hours away, but I got another chance days later.
Mechanical car problems delayed our arrival into Doonbeg and cost us our afternoon time, but I was determined not to let the day pass without golf, so I strode to the first tee when most people were headed to dinner. The opening hole there is one of the most spectacular in all of Ireland and I was off following the sun, the title of the famous golf movie, for another glorious mini-round, cutting around the course to finish on the oceanside par 4 18th hole.
When I was a kid, my dad had a boss who always used the term, "Attitude of Gratitude." For rediscovered solo golf. I'm very grateful.
Revised: 04/06/2020 - Article Viewed 9,500 Times
About: Art Stricklin
Art Stricklin has covered every professional and most major amateur golf tournaments in the state of Texas. He has covered both the Byron Nelson and Colonial PGA Tour events for the last quarter century, plus the Texas and Houston Open more than a decade. He has covered every Champions Tour event in the state along with the Nationwide and LPGA Lone Star tournaments.
On the national scene, he has achieved the domestic grand slam, covering the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championships on multiple occasions along with the U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship and dozens of other professional golf events.
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