I’m playing golf with the Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. The course is very narrow. Tall leafless trees cluster against the fairway. A low sun hangs inflamed between fast scudding clouds. The grass has grown long, unkempt, damp with newly fallen rain. We trudge from hole to hole, me and Donovan, the only players in sight.
The course ranks among the best in the world, he says. I’m skeptical but leave my doubts unvoiced. I’m simply very happy to be playing with him. I’ve enjoyed his music since early childhood. We keep conversation to a minimum, focused on the game rather than his career. Donovan scowls and critiques my form. Put your hands here, put your feet there, listen to me, he says. I accept his criticism, nodding bashfully, never having played the game before.
We use wooden clubs. They seem more like weapons than sporting equipment. I begin to suspect that Donovan has dragged me into the deep past or into the distant future. The rules of golf have changed substantially. The ball is either undetectable, to my senses at least, or absent entirely. It makes the game challenging for the beginner.
I swing and miss. This counts as a stroke against me. Donovan takes his turn. He tees up and swings. He drives the ball, so he claims, direct onto the putting green. He will score under par. His face brightens. Golf is part of his heritage as a Scotsman. He smiles and tells me many famous people play here, on this course, people much more famous than him.
Matthew Spencer lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America.