Monday, November 7, 2011

A Worthwhile Reflection

There’s frost on the greens and the golf season is pretty much done in the northern reaches of our planet. The end of the season always brings some reflection about games past, what the season’s weather was like and changes in the game in general.
One of the best reflective pieces ever written on golf is The Match by author Mark Frost. The Match is a fine piece of writing that captures clearly and accurately how much the game, and the world, has changed.
Mark Frost is the co-creator of the Twin Peaks television series and writer for the TV show Hill Street Blues.
The Match is about a 1956 wager made between two California millionaires, Eddie Lowery and George Coleman. Lowery bet that he knew two amateurs who could beat two famous pros in a best ball match. The pros were Ben Hogan, just entering the shadows on his career, and Byron Nelson, who was 10 years past his peak. The pros had won 14 major championships between them.
The amateurs were up-and-coming Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward, a party guy who sometimes played hung over.
It was a casual, unpublicized game that has become a golf legend over the last 50 years. It tells about the match, hole by hole, while blending in the histories and personalities of the four men. It takes the reader back to what golf was really like before big money, advertising and television changed it from a game for amateurs to an industry of professionals.
Today’s professional golfers often pick up millions of dollars for a few days play. In 2011, 100 professionals made more than $1 million each. The money paid to professional players in most sports is obscene, considering the desperate human needs seen around the world. On the other hand, professional athletes now are industries, with major expenses. They make a lot of money for a lot of other people and many of them contribute handsomely to charities.
My main complaint about golf today is what it says about our society. It promotes a "get rich quick -- by doing less" attitude that has gained prominence in the world, and is hurting us all. It is the attitude that has helped touch off the Occupy Movements.
The Match is a wonderful read, not just for golfers, but for anyone wishing to reflect on how much the world has changed since the 1950s.

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