Opinion: Golf is a game of simple truth, unlike the rest of the 21st century

Let me begin by saying that this is not a column about golf, though it begins with a story involving golf. Or, to be specific, a thought about golf.

I was catching up with a buddy from high school, lamenting the state of mankind: politics, the workplace, gender relations, sports. Our friendship spans four decades, so we had a lot of complaining to do. We also share a golf addiction, so naturally the game was a topic.

Nongolfers, far more sane than actual golfers, having not subjected themselves to torturous years of chasing a dimpled white ball over hills, through deserts, into lakes and bushes, behind trees, and occasionally into holes in the ground, often ask golfers, “What the hell do you see in the game? It looks miserable.”

I’ve never had the perfect answer, until that talk. I haven’t experienced many epiphanies, but this was one. Golf is loveable for the exactly the same reason so many of us detest everything else, from MAGA loons vs. progressive scolds, the latest episode of “Love Island,” Hollywood preaching, Inflation Reduction Acts that won’t reduce inflation, election controversies, Supreme Court controversies, and even the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf controversy.

Playing golf involves zero bull. Unlike virtually everything else in the 21st century.

You swing, you hit the ball, you count a stroke. Tally the strokes, that’s your score. The ball goes in the hole or not. End of debate.

Which is why after hours spent drenched in controversy, consuming, managing or writing about the news, it feels liberating to stand on a 108-degree golf course facing a 103-yard shot from the fairway to the flag. You swipe at the ball with a wedge. It comes to rest — somewhere. That’s one stroke.

Unlike, say, casting your election ballot. Which may be a vote or may not, depending on which political party you’re in and whether your preferred candidate wins the election. Or wishing a barista “good morning,” which risks using the wrong pronoun and creating a controversy where you only meant to be kind. Or deciding whether or not to pay an exorbitant sum to see Bruce Springsteen, because being ripped off by the voice of the working man would still get you in to hear “Born to Run” live — a bucket list item — but also subject you to a lengthy political rant, which you would absolutely file under B.

Not for Bruce or for Boss. But under B for “more bull.”

Over time, I seem to have shifted away from doing things that will likely deliver more such nonsense: scrolling social media, watching or reading the news, going to Fourth of July barbecue picnics, striking up a conversation in line at Bashas’. Instead, I try to hit golf balls on all the days of the week that end in the letter -y. The sand shot rises out of the bunker and nestles beside the hole — or you skull it over a condo. Your putt spins around the hole and falls out. You tap in and add two strokes to your score. There’s a truth to the game that no longer seems to exist in so much of what we call life.

Like I said, this isn’t a story about golf. It’s a story about missing the days before all the bull, back when the news, actually real, was the only form of “reality TV.” Back when the phrase “Hey, guys” wasn’t grounds for a complaint to human resources. And back when someone could write “these truths are self-evident” and inspire a revolution, not a food fight on three different TV networks with two political slants.

And now, friends, back to the bull.