What happens if you go to a public golf course all by yourself – at least in a city close to golfers such as New York or Los Angeles, where I grew up – is someone who name on a waiting list and connect after a while to a group of strangers with whom you will spend the next five hours in the neighborhood. I spend the rest of my life avoiding intimate time with strangers. Imagine if you only had to go to a movie with everyone in your line. Or if the host sat you at a table during a solo trip to a restaurant with a party of three and expected you to talk to them until midnight. Not my thing – and possibly the reason why I'm afraid of sitting at the table at weddings during weddings.
But hanging around on golf courses with strangers has always been something different for me. And oddly enough I have been doing it all my life. I got the golf virus when I turned 10, exactly when Tiger won his third consecutive American amateur title. I started playing, usually with my grandmother, a few days a week, and soon I set off every afternoon and was dropped off after school. These were public golf courses in Los Angeles, one of the busiest in the country, so you don't play much alone. At one favorite, Los Verdes, on the Palos Verdes peninsula, I remember five fives piled up until sunset. I would jump out of my mother's minibus, give my name to the starter, practice my well. When I heard my name (& # 39; Riley, single, from the waiting list & # 39;), I threw my money away for the junior rate (usually $ 5), walked to my unsuspecting adult partners at the first tee, and we would be gone.
A conversation on a golf course is its own kind of chatter. The talk is relevant: there is always the shift in the wind or the yardage to the pin or the speed of this green versus the latter to blow around. Golf is also moving forward. You are never just stuck there. Many people with children say it is easier to talk to them in the car; when everyone stares straight ahead, the revelations begin to flow. Golf is like that. Your eyes are always on the fairway, even when you are talking about fired or dead fathers. The overlaps with strangers may not always be clear. But you feel around. You let your flashlight shine in the cave and see if you might be fans of the same hamburger chain or whatever.
A significant portion of the useless stuff I learned in those years came from the strangers I played with, people who remember playing a public course with a tween in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Never live in Boston. Vacation in Thailand. I remember two middle-aged brothers begging me to take two commandments of our time together: 1) Never marry. 2) Date strippers. I remember asking a man one summer afternoon that I was linked to what he did for a living & # 39 ;, and when he told me that, I asked if he knew our family friend I thought I knew that he did the same. He turned pale and explained that our family friend was in fact his boss, that he had reported sick that day, that he would appreciate it if I, the 12-year-old & # 39; Riley single & # 39 ;, wouldn't mind limiting him to his superior.