The Golf Gene —
an Essay on the Nature of Genetic Insufficiency

by P. Milhaus-Nixonian

Yesterday I found myself in the dining room of the Lexington Country Club (closed membership) at a benefit golf banquet for the Lexington Athletic Association. My team of officemates had just finished dead last out of 17 foursomes in a "best ball" tournament—we were 20 strokes behind the winners. The thing that became immediately apparent about our fellow tournament players was that they were all "serious golfers." The other thing I noticed right away was their absolute homogeneity. Never had I seen so many white guys wearing tan "dockers" and sleeveless sports cardigans.

These were all the guys I had loved to hate when I was in high school: the guys who had letter sweaters, dated cheerleaders, ran the student council, and signed up for the Business Law courses. They were uniformly white, middle-aged, affluent, slightly overweight, and drove BMWs, Volvos, Saabs, or Infinitis. They all drove these cars home to well-manicured, cul-de-sac lawns and vinyl-clad McMansions, I am certain. Only two women were present, besides the help, of course, and they were both virtually indistinguishable from the men, except for the braids.

So there I was, a nonjock duffer inside the palace of the privileged. I noticed I felt nervous. As the Bud Lites were downed, and amazing putts and drives recounted, the hard-ceilinged room's decibel levels rose to a belching, guffawing, back-slapping, ear-shattering level. We had to shout at each other across the table just to be heard. Finally, I just sat in silence and waited.

After what seemed an interminable time, the Haitian servers roused out the steam trays of chicken, roast beef, Italian sausage, pasta salad, and white rolls with butter patties. At no given signal, all hands converged on the buffet table. Unfortunately, my particular chair was placed at a "bottleneck" between the bar and buffet area and I was often bashed into and dripped upon by very polite but drunk, fat-assed, entitled white guys. I did my best to ignore it all and focus on my meal, smiling as much as ever I could.

Eventually came the inevitable cookie tray and awards presentations. Of course, being the last place finishers, we got our taste of public humiliation just before the first place award was handed out. I covered my head with a paper napkin. Everybody laughed good naturedly and pretended to "feel sorry" for us. I realized then that in the eyes of these people I wasn't really a man, after all, I wasn't even a golfer. In fact, I realized that I was so different from these guys, that I didn't even register on their radar scopes. I was a non-entity, as far as they were concerned. I wondered if this was what Dylan Klebold felt like, only worse, all the time.

The funny thing is, is that I had been groomed and prepared my whole childhood to be a part of this particular set. I started taking golf lessons about as soon as I could stand. My grandfather, father, and brothers had all lettered for their high school and college golf teams. To this day my father lives in a gated "Golf Community" in Naples, Florida. I spent my spare time shagging balls for my brothers and watching the Pro Tour on TV. Many of my high school pals were on the golf team, and I even worked part time during high school at a driving range. Golf was as much a part of my early life as oxygen. So what happened? How did I fail to become a scratch golfer, how did I fail to achieve "manhood."

The only explanation I can come up with is a biochemical deficiency. Somehow I had failed to get the proscribed and preferred golf (male) gene and in its place was substituted the artistic "creative" (homo) gene. I always remember what my dad told me once after a horrible afternoon on the links. I had played badly, gotten frustrated, and walked off the course under my dad's disdainful gaze, fighting back angry tears. I had shamed him, myself and besmirched the family name. Later, in the men's locker room, amongst the scent of cigars and the clatter of dice, my dad rested his hand on my shoulder and soothed me gently, as he would a daughter. "You know son, it's OK, you'll be a golfer some day, you just need to work at it a bit harder. You've certainly got the genetics for it." But did I, did I really? Was it just my adolescent rebellion, my disdain for the country club life, it's cliquish materialism, and jockish racist exclusionism? Or was it something deeper, something sexual, something wrong.

Maybe I really was an artist, a wimp, a fag? I wondered. I knew I liked girls, or at least I wanted to fuck them. But why wasn't I then? I mean Kenny Schall, my golf star buddy, was banging the coach's big breasted daughter and getting rug burns on his knees wasn't he? Why not me? I mean I had Playboys stashed under my mattress, I smoked bongs, chugged beer, climbed radio towers, and shot pool with the best of them. But on the other hand, I was a bad golfer and I liked to copy Yes album covers in my notebook and draw weird pictures of elves, hobbits, and wizards. I liked to balance my pet gerbil Amos on my head. Was I just some fucking pathetic fag waiting until my twenties to "come out?" I mean, how could a kid ever grow up to be a man who was a shitty golfer? Such was the hard truth of the matter.

As I drifted in and out of this self absorbed reverie, I knew that all the golfers in this banquet room believed it. None of them would ever say it. On the surface they would be all smiles and polite conversation. But they knew the difference. It was as plain as my pathetic scorecard. Manhood = Golf Prowess. The math was clear, hard, simple, and irrefutable. This was the club. Their club. This was the ticket to membership, financial success, an unhappy overweight wife in stonewashed bluejeans and a lifetime of weekends and afternoons spent escaping her company on the golf course. I was not, nor would I ever be, a member.

Even though I have a wife, a kid, a mortgage and drive a Jeep 4x4, to this day I wonder what went wrong with me, because it was obvious to every golfer in that room that I was not a real golfer, nor a real man. I guess I just didn't get the Golf Gene that my father assured me was my birthright. If the difference between a chimp and a man is only one percent of genetic material, then what is the difference between a golfer and a homo?






features | archive | editor's note | letters | contributors | contact us