I have nothing against golf. I have attempted this activity many times in my life. I find it a pleasant endeavor filled with polite well dressed men and women in genteel surroundings marked with civility and manners. Technically, I sometimes enjoy the “good walk spoiled”, excepting the part where I suck at it. Despite my acceptance of this occasionally unavoidable activity the proposition still stands that if it is nice enough to golf, it is nice enough to ride!!! Therein lies the impediment to my proficiency. Of golfing that is. Assuming skill requires practice, good southern riding weather condemns me to golfing mediocrity. My 8 year old son Brendan shows some proclivity for this gentlemanly activity. Hence, I do golf with him from time to time. He is too young to ride and we have taken up a novice interest in golf together, neither one taking it too seriously. He achieves far greater joy from driving the cart badly than hitting the ball well. Oh, the ignorance of youth – wasted on the young! So goes the dichotomy of how to spend ones spare good weather time. Riding or Golf. The differences in these activities are plainly obvious. A closer analysis is needed perhaps to satisfy my query of why I consider myself a regular participant of one and not the other. A “golfer” or a “biker”? Which are you? Which am I? Can you be both? How are they different and how are they exactly the same? Indulge my analysis.
Neither golfing nor riding can be undertaken cavalierly. The preparation for these activities requires the purchase of serious equipment. They also requires serious preparation and training. Although, while a bike may cost more than a set of clubs, a golf club membership may make these purchases on par (pun intended) with each other financially. Accordingly, to be a biker you need a bike. To be a golfer you need a golf membership, or at least a set of clubs. Now we all know that once you get the bike you need the jacket and the chaps and the helmet and the gloves and maybe the GPS, and the loud pipes, the heated gear, the do rag, the battery tender, the cool boots, the rain gear and so on and so on. Much like biking, golfing’s ‘equipment’ list can go on and on. The special shoes, the rain jacket, the little cart, the 60 degree wedge, the ‘topless’ hat, the long ‘tees’, the fancy balls, the pricey putter, the calf skin glove, the travel bag and that list goes on and on. I do believe this is simply driven by a consumer based society coupled with man’s desire to fill his garage full of shit. I don’t claim to be a sociologist, just a dude with a garage full of shit – whose friends have garages full of shit.
I can make the case that these two activities are far more like each other than you think. Out on the open road you lean your bike into curves and throttle up hills with a big smile. You take corners and accelerate out of turns and adrenaline pumps in your veins. The activity has a destination but it generally is not as important as the journey, the “ride” itself and the satisfaction it produces for the participant. In golf you square up at the T box, your foursome quietly watching, and you swing your driver hard as you can, bearing down on the little white ball. A good drive produces smiles and accolades from golf pals and pumps adrenaline in your veins. The activity counts strokes and has a score but in the end it’s really about a good time, hitting well and putting that little white ball in that small cup. It is not so much about the score but about the “game” itself and the happiness it produces for the participant. In golf you can hit a ball at the driving range for half an hour or play 18 leisurely holes for a 5 hour game. In riding you can go to the store for bread or milk or you can go 1,800 miles to Sturgis. It’s up to you on how deep you want to go on any day in either activity. The length of “play” with either golf or riding is up to the time commitment invested by the participant.
Another fascinating aspect of these activities is how each has its own very particular dress code. If you’re a biker you certainly have a bureau of black t shirts and a leather jacket. If you’re a golfer you undoubtedly have a cadre of polo shirts with little fancy logos on the chest. Generally, there’s a dude on a horse swinging a mallet or maybe an alligator or a swoosh symbol embroidered on a shirt pocket. The little polo man is as revered to the golfer as the bar and shield logo is to the biker. The wing tip shoes with spiked soles are as important as the black leather boots with thick heels and a scuffed left toe to each man. To stand at the country club bar in your checkered shorts drinking good scotch may be as satisfying to some as to belly up at the biker bar in your “Bike Week-94” T-shirt. Not being an avid or a good golfer I cannot truly say. Although, good scotch is good scotch – I don’t care what you did in the preceding 5 hours before consuming it.
At the end of the day (and I mean this figuratively and literally) a good days ride is very different than a good day’s golf. After a day’s ride there is a gin mill filled with likeminded bikers donning leather and drinking long necks. These people talk about the Braves and their asshole boss and their new Ford pickup, even if they just bought it used. In similar fashion, golfers have something called the 19th hole (the bar) at a golf club that serves the same purpose. Though men in plaid pants stand around discussing portfolios and business models and bitch about their spendthrift wives. That’s OK, just not as good as a biker bar. I’d rather jabber on about horsepower and ghost flames than about earnings ratios or profit margins any day. I guess this is a very personal judgment. Some golfers may be bored to tears at my biker gin mill which is why they stick to the country club. More power to them.
Despite the differences, part of the small draw for me to golf is the same as that which is a big draw for me to ride: The “Equipment”. Men love equipment. Say what you wish about “phallic symbols” or “compensating”, but the tools that make these activities possible are very much a part of the lure to participate in them. Golfers have a multitude of options and vast equipment warehouses within which they can spend their kid’s college money on silly golf shit. Graphite shafts, rangefinders, polarized sunglasses, electric golf carts and Scooby do head covers. Good, just not as good as biker shit. We have leather jackets, S&S carburetors, chrome, chaps, metal flake paint, skull t-shirts, rosewood handled pocket knives and black leather gauntlet gloves. WAY better shit!!!!!!!!
In the end should the golfer break his leg in a sand trap would his golf pals come and put a ramp on the front of his house up to his door? I don’t know. I really wouldn’t call my golf pals if I needed something like that. I’m not sure golfers would ever need something like that. I have helped build half a dozen ramps up to front porches for downed riders in my life. Golfers, not so much. If I needed that ramp to wheel my busted ass up to my front door, I’d call my riding brothers. Now that I ponder it, I don’t have any golfing brothers. I’m not sure anyone does. I guess in the end that’s why I’m a biker and not a golfer. Besides, if it is nice enough to golf its nice enough to ride!
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home. Written by Steve Murrin, the ‘Original Biker Lawyer’