My most memorable round of golf ever was about four years ago on a warm day in May.

It was a group outing – two other women, their husbands and several other men.

The golf course was about a half hour away so we met at a central location and carpooled. Before I even had a chance to take my clubs out of the van, things became very interesting.

One of the other women was angry. Very angry. Her husband had forgotten to put her clubs in the car for her and didn’t apologize. He suggested it was ultimately her responsibility to bring her own clubs.

She got in the car and raced home in anger to get her clubs. I thought she might not bother to return but she did.

We three women decided to carpool together and an extraordinarily honest conversation transpired, even though these women weren’t my BFFs (although the other two women were good friends with each other).

As is usually the case when someone gets angry about something, her anger wasn’t ultimately about her husband’s failure to remember her golf clubs.  It was pent up anger about all the struggles of recent years.  Struggles of a financial free fall and the subsequent feelings of humiliation and despair. Shattered dreams.

The conversation was peppered with, “I bet YOUR husband would NEVER…” and “Oh yes he does…” type statements. Vulgar language was used, even though the three of us are ladies who are usually all about dignified concealment in public. The preconceived categories we had previously assigned to each other, and to our spouses,  slipped away.

On the golf course we let the men go off in their own group and we proceeded to laugh a lot at our golf game…and at the men, whenever we would notice one of them make an errant shot, which was quite often.  It was therapeutic.

I think part of what makes a golf course a place where confidences are more freely shared and where laughter comes easily is that you get to make a fool of yourself whenever you hit a bad shot. Golf is a great equalizer. Whereas in most other public settings one doesn’t usually have opportunities to put one’s ineptitude routinely on display and therefore it’s easier to look like you have it all together.

The flip side of that is impressing everyone with the occasional amazing shot. Everyone who golfs usually hits at least one amazing shot per round, even if by accident. It’s always fun to hear praise over a great shot and it lifts the spirits. In the real world that kind of praise doesn’t come so easily.

The other thing that helps make the golf course a comfortable place to talk and laugh is that you aren’t next to each other or face to face the entire time, like you are when you go out to lunch or are at a party. You have to go off alone a lot to find your golf ball (if your golf shots are like mine that includes traipsing through woods or looking in streams). There is a lot of built-in solitude even as you are golfing with other people. So there is no forced conversation or awkward silences.

At the end of this memorable round of golf we stopped for a late lunch and a margarita, which I drank too quickly because I was thirsty. I felt the effects of that margarita for the rest of the day but our conversation continued to be very open and honest.

After this day of confessions the three of us didn’t go off and become BFFs and we haven’t golfed together or had a conversation like that since then. You can’t plan such things nor can you recreate them. It was a one-time thing – like a curtain was parted for a time and the three of us just happened to be there to peer in and see that we all share the same struggles more than we realized before. Golf made this possible even though it ultimately had nothing to do with golf.


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