Bongreads of the Week: Golf Edition
As this roundup of intrepid golf journalism proves, one of the most fun parts of loving golf is motherfucking hating golf. Plus, you can smoke weed while doing it.
Published on September 15, 2017

Golf. Is it boring? Does it suck? The answer depends on who you are, really. If you are reading this, you would probably say, "Golf is boring and it sucks." If you are writing this, then you are me, in which case you would say, "Golf is not boring, and it does not suck." But then again, if you were me, then I'd be you, so maybe I'd use your mouth to say that golf rules and then use your hands to give two big thumbs up to the concept of golf, and you –– who would, again, be me –– would turn my mouth into a butthole and start pooping shit out of it once the subject of golf was brought up. Uh, yeah, anyways, let's move on.

The point I'm trying to make here is that most young people don't like golf because it's slow, usually expensive, and has classically been the domain of evil old white men who, between holes, cackle while striking business deals that impact the lives of millions of people. Which, sure. But! That has not stopped me from being obsessed with golf. I love that it's slow, because life is too fast, and any excuse to get yourself out into nature and focusing on something that is not your phone is inherently good. There are also a shit-ton of public courses, which are cheap enough to make the dastardly rich dudes stay away, as well as a bunch of eco-friendly courses that go out of their way to preserve the flora and fauna germane to the area while using self-sustaining irrigation methods to both keep shit sustainable and cut down on water bills, passing the savings along to the players themselves. Also, the main good thing about golf courses is that you can smoke weed on them. In short, golf is secretly OK.

Now that you are a golf-positive or at least golf-neutral, it's time to show you some good ass pieces of golf writing.

"The Orange Trapper"
John McPhee for The New Yorker

Before you read John McPhee's essay on his love of looking for used golf balls with an orange golf ball retriever that doubles as a history of golf balls themselves, it is important to remember that (A) John McPhee is one of the fathers of creative nonfiction writing and therefore can do no wrong, and that (B) he wrote this when he was 82-years-old. While you're at it, you should read this old Gawker (R.I.P.) post making fun of John McPhee's decision to write about his orange golf ball retriever by Hamilton Nolan (still alive) that made me giggle twice. Yes, "The Orange Trapper" is old-man journalism, but it's fascinating, too.

"That Time Michael Jordan Allegedly Ran Up a Million-Dollar Golf Debt"
David Roth for VICE Sports

In addition to being the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan is also a degenerate golf gambler. David Roth is the best sportswriter and maybe just the plain best writer, and Michael Jordan's degenerate golf gambling habit is the best sports thing to write about. You can do the math here on your own, but here's some more: namely, that according to a 1993 self-published book written by one of Michael Jordan's ex-friends, Jordan racked up a $1.2 million golf gambling debt, which he somehow negotiated down to a couple hundred thousand dollars, probably because he is Michael Jordan. Either way, the book was the culmination of a string of years during which Jordan's gambling habits had created an air of, as Roth puts it, "ambient sketchiness" that threatened to puncture the superstar's kid-friendly image. Jordan's gambling reached a fever pitch in 1992, just before his first retirement and attempt at a baseball career, which in addition to providing what little plot the movie Space Jam has, ties into my favorite sports conspiracy theory, one perhaps best summed by the Bleacher Report headline, "Michael Jordan's First Retirement: Was It a Secret Suspension?"

"Let the Rattlesnake Deal with Me"
Alejandra Llaneza for The Players' Tribune

If you aren't aware, The Players' Tribune is a website where professional athletes write about stuff. On the surface, this seems like it would be a terrible idea –– many, many professional athletes are dumb as a rock, and about as boring to boot — but it turns out that writing is not that hard, and if a professional athlete can be focused enough to do sports good, they can focus enough to write good, too. My favorite Players' Tribune stories, generally, are written not by the stars, but those grinding in the middle tiers of their respective sports, scrambling to make a living just like the rest of us. Here, the LPGA player Alejandra Llaneza writes about flying economy and staying with host families when she goes to tournaments where the relatively small prize money is made even smaller by entry fees and caddy fees.

"Rio Didn't Need an Olympic Golf Course, but They Built One Anyway"
Aaron Gordon for VICE Sports

OK, golf can be pretty shitty sometimes, as evidenced by Aaron Gordon's report on how an aging billionaire used last year's Rio Olympics as an excuse to skirt the area's environmental protection laws and fuck up the area's ecosystem by building a very expensive golf course on it. Then again, one of the most fun parts of loving golf is motherfucking hating golf.

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Drew Millard
Drew Millard is a freelance writer and dog owner living in Durham, North Carolina. His writing has appeared in VICE, High Times, Hazlitt, SPIN, and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @drewmillard.
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