Today is the day I look forward to all year long as most golfers around here do. It's time for the annual "horse race" at Heritage Hills in McCook.
Except instead of having horses in this horse race, there are professional golfers from six different states competing for a prize only one will win, with golfers being eliminated on each hole until there's only one man left standing and that's the exciting part. The golfers are followed around the course by a horde of fans in their golf carts and it's really quite the experience for a small, sleepy town like McCook.
I watch everyone tee off on the first hole and then drive my golf cart over to Jim and Carol Lemon's house which sits directly behind the 12th hole where we sit on their back patio and wait for the golfers to arrive. Once they do, we follow them the rest of the way. Many people stop by the house for conversation and refreshments before continuing their trek around the golf course which makes it not only a golf outing but a social event as well.
I think Justin Herron is the class of the field but in a shootout where one bad shot gets you eliminated, anyone can win.
I know a lot of you aren't golf fans and some of you don't even like golfers which I think is based more on a misperception than any prevailing facts. A guy told me once that he wouldn't step foot on the golf course property in McCook because nobody played out there except a few "prima donnas" who thought they were better than everybody else.
I don't know anybody like that at the golf course. There are certainly some guys that play the game better than most other members and consequently choose to play with their own small group but that's the way most people are. Jim Lemon is my good friend and daily playing partner and one reason for that is that our skills and scores are very similar, even though I've been on a bit of a run for the past week. Usually though we go back and forth in terms of winning and the end result is almost always decided only by a stroke or two. People just have more fun with any game when the results are close and unpredictable like that and the better golfers know that too.
Golf is one of the few sports we compete in where we have no teammates. It's an individual sport and your success or failure depends entirely on you. Jim and I are both fiercely competitive and, because of that, we're driven to win, regardless of what we're competing for. We also try our hardest, as most golfers do, to be courteous and supportive of the other's efforts, so we always compliment each other on a good shot. Now understand that we're not glad the other person made a good shot but we compliment each other nevertheless because sportsmanship is about what you say, not what you feel, and how you treat your fellow competitor. Jim and I both want to win ALL the time in whatever we do, even when our competitor is each other, but that burning desire to win never trumps the obligation to be courteous and congratulatory when we lose.
Is everybody loved by everybody else out there? No, but they're not in any other kind of business or personal situation either. Different personalities, different interests, and different perspectives separate some people from others but that's not because of golf, it's because of life. Hardly anybody likes everybody and that applies to our members just like it applies to you and the people you choose to be your friends compared with those you don't. Some people don't like me and because of the way they treat me, I tend not to care too much for them either. That's just the way the world works.
So if you're not busy around 4 p.m. today (Friday), come out to the golf course, watch an exciting display of talent and maybe make some new friends too.
You can't ever have enough of those you know.