I am a golfer. One could say I didn’t choose the golf life, it chose me. My grandfather chose it for me too when he signed me up for the local golf camp a few summers in a row when I was little—picture 25 kids hitting range balls as fast as humanly possible 20-30 yards while a few pros meandered around giving occasional tips. Also Capri-Suns from a cardboard box on a golf cart and the smell of fresh doughnuts cooking from the Safeway in front of the range. That smell of doughnuts is intricately linked to golf for me; always will be.
I’ve tried in the past to explain why golf isn’t an elitist activity for middle-aged rich people; it’s not that easy because, well, Golf is a bit elitist. Golf is kind of expensive. Middle-aged white guys are over represented. All that withstanding, golf at its core is about play. As far as I’m concerned, no rich middle-aged anybody has the market on play cornered. Just like the relationship between a rusty Honda Accord from the 90’s and a Model X, if you know where to look, there is a course and clubs to fit just about anybody.
Much of the energy dedicated to golf is reflexive. If you want competition, you’ll find it. If you want carefree fun, you’ll find it. It’s a rare sport that lets you take as much as you put in. No matter how you do it though, there is no beating golf. There is no such thing as perfection in golf. My better is your worst and another’s best. It does not matter though; it’s all a game. At its best golf shrinks down to the briefest of moments—the moment of contact—that feel of connection and reaction, knowing before you even lift your eyes up; “god damn, I smacked that one!”
That’s golf for me, standing on number 15 with a beer in hand high-fiving my partners after a great approach shot. Golf is moaning about that one club until you hit it well again. “I hate my seven iron” becomes “I hate my hybrid” becomes “I hate this stupid game.” Then you sink a 15 foot putt for bogey and that glow smooths out the last five bad holes. The rest drifts and giggles.
This year, as Berlin’s legendary club scene was comprehensively stymied, a different kind of club filled an important space for us; the Golf Club. One of the key facilitators to golf for us in this post-apocalyptic wasteland, was our Oliver Charles sweaters. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but it can get a bit chilly in Germany in the winter. Our OC’s literally were required gear for the elements.
Although the “golf isn’t a sport” crowd won’t admit it, golf makes you move. Having clothes that bunch up or tug makes a real impact on a smooth swing. The OC-over-a-golf-shirt really shines. It’s flexible and warm without being bulky. The seamless design and European cut (trim and slim) makes it a second skin, you barely notice it. I often find myself pulling the sleeves up on other jackets and sweaters around my left shoulder to ensure I can swing the way I want to; with the OC I don’t need to.
For being such an everyday item, it sure does look sharp with a collar too. This thing never shows any wrinkles either. I actually don’t know how this is possible considering how many times I’ve stuffed it into the pockets of my bag, but when you need it, it comes on crisp. I carry my bag and the shoulder straps have spent a lot of time against my OC rubbing and pulling - without any pilling.
Finally, these bad boys and girls almost defy reason and expectation in that they never seem to pick up scents. Not from the layer of dirt and lint in golf bag pockets. Not from me walking 18 holes in it—incredible stuff. Literally unbelievable. I’m shook. Thank god for my OC.
Golf approached as a conduit to meditative introspection isn’t actually that bad of an idea. Golf pushes people’s patience and frailties out into the open. As the old proverb passed down from our golfing forebears tells us, “I can learn more about a person in 18 holes of golf than in a year of conversation.” Golf requires a person to either master his or her emotions or surrender to them. When you have a bad shot, potential reactions multiply like fractals, splintering between laughter and violence.
How do I react when something doesn’t go my way? How do I react when I lose? When I win? How do I put my failures and successes into context? How do I stay humble? How do I pick myself up? How do I think positive and move on when everything seems to be going against me over and over again? How do I stay grounded when it seems like I can’t do anything wrong and everything is working for me? How do I encourage my friends? How do I let go of the bad and keep the good? It’s golf. It’s life. It’s my choice.
Sam Canino is a storyteller, a mediocre guitar player, an enthusiastic brainstormer, and a below average surfer. Sam looks forward to chatting with taxi drivers and elected representatives and everyone in between. He cares deeply that people feel seen and that we take care of our world. Sam believes in us and in himself. "I have a voice and a pen and I am going to use them".