Denver Bar Association
May 2013
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Why We Play Golf

by Marshall Snider


ike many lawyers and other Americans, I like to play golf. There are many reasons to enjoy this game. You get to spend a day out of doors with good friends in the wonderful Colorado weather and scenery. You get a good bit of exercise to boot — it is estimated that walking 18 holes is the equivalent of a five-mile walk. And if, like me, your shots often don’t traverse the straight line, shortest distance between tee and green, you can put in some healthy extra mileage.

But none of these benefits explains the real joy of golf. What keeps even us high handicappers coming back to the links is the fact that this is the only sport where many of us can, on occasion, perform to the same high level as a professional athlete. Maybe we can’t throw a football like Peyton or hit a baseball like CarGo, but every now and then we can hit a golf shot like Tiger, Phil, or Rory.

Now admittedly, hitting the occasional shot like Vijay or Luke or Sergio does not make us as good a golfer as those stars. If it did, I think few of us would still be practicing law for a living. On a good day, I may make four or five pro-like shots, chips, or putts; these guys do it 60-plus times in a round. But, on occasion, I can hit a 190-yard shot that winds up just a few feet from the pin. That’s as good as Bubba, Keegan, or Ernie hope to do. At my age, nothing I can do athletically could be more satisfying.

Sure, there may be some differences between my 190-yard shot to the hole and that of Graeme or Pádraig. I will hit that shot with a 3-wood, while they will launch the ball with a 6- or 7-iron. But, who cares? In golf, they don’t ask you how, they only ask how many. And on that hole, it took me just as many shots to get down from 190 as it would Dustin or Webb.

OK, I know I have to get real here. That beautiful 90-yard wedge that I hit once in awhile to within a few feet on a par-4 hole has the same result as a professional golfer from the same distance, but most likely it is the pro’s second shot, while in too many cases it is my third or fourth. Again, who cares? For that moment, on that shot, I achieved the same result as the best players in the world. I can’t play to that level on a basketball court or on any other sporting field.

No matter how many mediocre-to-bad shots you hit, there are always those moments on a golf course that are so satisfying that you delay throwing your clubs into the water and come back next time. The 65-yard pitch that bounces off the pin, the chip shot from the rough that leads to a one-putt, or the 30-foot putt that, sadly, only saves a double bogey. For that one moment, that one swing, you got as good a result as the Masters champ. And that’s what I love about playing golf. D


Marshall Snider is a former Colorado administrative law judge who works as an arbitrator and mediator. He may be reached at

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