Why Golf is My Safe Haven

Our editor reflects on how he escapes everyday stresses on the green.

If there was ever the time to wrap ourselves in the warm, green security blanket of a golf course, the time is now.

A safe haven from the world outside the ropes, where lately it seems that common decency, kindness, respect, cooperation and what’s usually good about us is in shorter supply.

A cold wind blows. Can you feel that, too?

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In the real world, the bombardment of dings, reminders, alerts, alarms, likes, news feeds, flames, Internet trolls and personalized ringtones is ceaseless. I’m sure that old ahooga car-horn ringtone means a lot to you for some reason, but to me it’s just annoying.

Inside the ropes, hush and lush prevail, and civility still reigns.

Where birds still chirp, not tweet.

Where you have to play a bad lie, not tell one.

Where people are quiet while you play your shot.

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Where the only person cursing at you is you.

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word.

Where you keep your own score and call penalties on yourself, and you can’t say you lost because of the officials—or blame it on the media.

Where out-of-bounds penalties, water hazards, forced carries and three-putts are still more stomachable than anything the world throws at you.

Where we still have honors for our good play and you actually hope your opponents play well, but that you play a little better.

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Where you fix ball marks, even if they aren’t yours.

Where you rake the traps, and you leave the place in better condition than you found it, or at least keep it just as pristine.

Where bringing your A game means how well you play the hole, not being one.

Where the only technology allowed helps you with your shot.

Where cellphones are still frowned upon, or at least less acceptable than in the world outside.

It wouldn’t be the first time I have sought the sanctuary of the golf course when things go badly.

I remember trying to deal with the horror and disbelief of all that craziness on 9/11, frantic calls to family members, sitting in my car on the New Jersey Turnpike on my way to an aborted meeting in SoHo. Watching smoke rise from across the river, I thought this had to be the work of a foreign government or some bigger enemy, and that my life was about to change irrevocably. Knowing all my loved ones were safe, the only thing I could think of doing next—maybe one last time—was to head to the golf course.

So lately, the need to escape to golfing nirvana seems more needed than ever. For all its changes and modern-era advancements, golf at its core still clings to that old-school respect, honor and sportsmanship—basic elements that should never go out of style.

My hope is that they still reside in all of us, with only the need for a gentle reminder now and again—and not in the form of an old car horn.

Remember: When the going gets tough, the tough get golfing.

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