First, I should preface this by stating that I appreciate the fact that so many people are addicted to golf. They contribute substantially to the economies of the locales having golf courses, as well as to my own financial well-being. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, proceeds from which I derive much of my annual income.
Golf addicts are people who regularly visit sterile, grass-covered expanses of terrain, where they knock little balls around and chase after them, often riding in “golf cars.” Initially, the addicts are content to engage in this erratic behavior no more than once weekly, on the average, and their urges are inhibited by inclement weather.
Psychiatric treatment for golf addiction can sometimes be helpful in alleviating addicts’ aberrant inclinations, but care must be taken to ensure that the psychiatrists consulted are certified non-golfers. Physicians, for inexplicable reasons, tend to be highly susceptible to golf addiction, as are members of the legal profession, university administrators, politicians, and football coaches.
Progression to the second phase is characterized by stronger and more frequent urges to engage in rounds of golf, often by their visiting courses three or more times weekly. Inclement weather may no longer inhibit the urges, and the addicts may be seen playing rounds of golf during periods of extreme heat, or cold, or even light rain, times when normal people seek shelter. When questioned, they may insist that playing golf is relaxing, or even essential to their academic, business, or political careers. The latter may have some validity, and pressure from peers and/or superiors cannot be discounted as a predisposing factor.
In the third, or sub-acute phase, the addicts derive pleasure merely from watching others knock and chase their balls. They especially enjoy tournaments, where they mix and mingle with other addicts and watch the “pros.” Pros are exceptionally skilled ball knockers, and are held in high esteem by the addicts. Pros provide what amounts to a “fix” and are well-paid for their services. Addicts may walk several miles following and watching the pros in action.
Scattered about on the grassy expanses are circular patches of close-clipped grass having centrally located, small round holes. When knocked balls land on one of these patches, they are gently tapped by the pros until they fall into a hole. When the pros begin to tap, an eerie silence falls over the crowd of addicts, and they stare, transfixed and zombie-like, at the rolling balls.
Golf addicts exhibit other interesting characteristics, For example, an intense interest in ornithology typically accompanies their addiction, and invariably their conversations include animated discussions about “birdies” and “eagles.” Most tend to be afraid of snakes they encounter, although the vast majority are perfectly harmless. But they seem to be largely oblivious to the menace posed by misdirected golf balls sailing around the courses. Dr. Steve Salvatore is an expert on the subject, and in 1999 reported that, “More than 300,000 people have suffered from golf-related injuries over the past few years. Many required hospitalization, and some have been fatal.” As nearly as I can determine, there have been no injuries from snakebites on golf courses in the United States. Stay tuned. (Anyone taking issue with anything I write can contact the editor, “,” or me, “”)
Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Department of Zoology and Entomology at Auburn University. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.