Why I prefer fishing over golf

Just like professional golfers tally their strokes under par, I too play a subpar golf game. In fact, I hold several records down at the prestigious Penny Branch Golf Club in southern Hampton County:

  1. Most golf balls purchased and lost in eight holes.
  2. Most profane words invented on a golf course and added to the English language in front of children.
  3. Shortest round of golf ever – I was asked to leave after I crashed the golf cart trying to pull it out of the garage prior to the first hole and blurted out another record-breaker to add to the lexicon of the Methodist deacons foursome behind me.
  4. Highest number of strokes ever recorded on one hole. I took my wife golfing, and her helpful advice always aids my concentration, and I scored a 25 on the par 5 2nd  hole. Is that good?
  5. Longest round of golf – the battery died on the golf cart while I was trying to get the ball into that cursed 2nd hole and I had to walk the remaining 16. But I kept having to go back to the clubhouse to purchase more balls.

However, my career as a professional golfer never took off, especially after I was asked to leave the hallowed grassy lanes of my favorite golf course and banned forever - all because I changed the baby’s stinky diaper on the 7th hole and left it in the trash can near the water cooler on a June day. So for all these many reasons and more, I prefer fishing over golf.

The front nine holes

When you really think about it, golf and fishing have many disturbing similarities. For example, there is a lot of expensive gear involved in both golfing and angling. And just as there is a club for every job on the golf course, there is a rod or pole for every scenario in fishing. If  you need to make a long cast into those lily pads, you reach for your best bait casting bass reel. If you need to skim a top water plug over the surface of the water for those trout, you would use your best fly rod. And if you need to fish around that stump in the swamp, where there are tree branches and roots everywhere and you’re 100 percent sure to get hung up, you reach for your buddy’s pole when he ain’t looking.

Golfers have to do a lot of math in keeping up with their scores, strokes under par, etc., and so do fishermen. While most of it is addition and subtraction, because of my style of fishing I have to engage in more higher forms of mathematics such as multiplication, algebra and statistics to keep track of how many fish I catch. Because I am such a professional fisherman, for every fish I catch I multiply it by three before I reach the bank and begin telling everyone my score. But you also have to factor in how many fish got away or were released because they were too big to fit into the cooler (that’s call the x-factor, or the unknown, for all you young algebra students.)

Just like in golfing, occasionally I will “shank” my cast off into the nearest trees and never see that lure again. Even more frequently, I’ll “hook” my cast the other way, usually in the direction of my fishing partner, who is already a little red-faced about his best bream pole being broken in two, or my marriage partner, who is still already mad at me about everything. A word of advice: if you hook your partner, try to simply hook his/her hat, where it is merely a funny moment between two friends. But it’s hard to declare a “mulligan” and do-over your cast when your spouse has a new treble-hook earring and tears running down her face.

The ultimate shot in golf is, of course, the “hole in one” in which the golfers knocks the ball into the hole in one whack. In fishing, a hole in one is when a lucky angler pulls a trophy bass, bream or red breast “stump knocker” out of that fishing hole with only one cast – and boy, it’s a beautiful thing indeed! And, like golf, the thrill of gloating in front of your buddies is an equally beautiful thing.

However, I am such a strong environmentalist and conservationist that I disdain the hole in one when on the water. I’m more of a Par 5 guy – which means it takes four lost lures or drowned crickets and one broken line to get the fish out of the hole. Occasionally, I will go for a “Birdie” or an “Eagle,” which means I won’t nab any fish around that hole but I will hook an egret or an osprey flying by, and from time to time I’ll even “Bogie” a hole, meaning I’ll fish for an hour in one hole, lose about $20 worth of fishing tackle, then invent a new cuss word and paddle away.

The back nine holes

But I wouldn’t be a realist if I didn’t acknowledge the vast difference between golf and angling. Golf is a sport for refined gentlemen of means. When a group of golfers convene, they call it a foursome. When an equal number of fishermen get together, they call it a “mess” of fishermen. And if you don’t know why, follow one of them home and check out the wet, muddy trail he leaves from the back porch to the shower!

Golf is about skill and efficiency; fishing is about patience and reward. Let’s consider the last time I was allowed on a real golf course. I had taken my wife, who for some reason decided she didn’t like the way she swung at the ball the first 16 times and decided to keep swinging until the ball actually left the ground and went in a forward direction (the dreamer). I would have like to have helped her but she’s my wife, of course, which means she is just as stubborn as I am; and besides, the kids kept running off into the rough and eating grass and had to be rounded up and spanked with a nine iron. Meanwhile, the foursome of gentlemen behind us were making rude remarks and insisting that I either hurry up or get a divorce. I started to go back there and show those gentlemen my “right hook” swing, but one of them looked like he could have been a lawyer and would have sued my cheap golf pants off.  So I decided on the divorce and got the lawyer’s business card instead.

However, if you are fishing slowly in the swamp and another party comes up behind you, there is no such confrontation. Rather, what you get is what they call a “bull session” in which the two parties will actually stop fishing and begin socializing and telling lies about how many fish they caught and how many they had to let go because they were so large the boat kept floundering.

And finally, when the day is done and you’ve played 18 long holes of golf, a duffer can relax with all his friends in the club house with a refreshing drink, fine atmosphere and good company. But not the fisherman – he’s got a “mess” of fish to scale and gut and clean and his mess of lazy fishing buddies have abandoned him.

On second thought, is it too late to become a golfer?