Some thoughts on golf and Miami

by Rob Tiller

One of the things I’d really like to improve in 2012 is chipping. Sure, I’d like to get more fit, be a better person, etc., but fulfilling this resolution could be transformative in a small, practical way. My golf game would be so pleased if I could consistently get short shots from off the green closer to the hole. Compared to a lot of things, it’s not that hard. It’s just a matter of practice.

You may ask, what is the point of golf? I’ve asked the same question many times. It can be, as the old saying goes, a good walk spoiled. It’s fears, frustrations, humiliations, and disappointments. At times it’s uncomfortable and even painful. But it’s also about overcoming these things. It’s about courage and strength. It’s very much about honesty and integrity, and friendship.

Golf is full of beauty — the beauty of unique gardens with flowers, trees, lakes, and birds, of magnificent vistas. The beauty of the little dimpled white ball flying as hoped for in a high parabola against a clear sky. It is wonderful to stroke a long putt that curves several feet before finding its way to the bottom of the hole. For all the horrors and rigors, there are incredible moments of transcendence.

And so it was with hope and pleasant anticipation that on Wednesday I played my first eighteen holes of 2012 at the Doral club, in Miami. The skies were blue, and although it was a bit cool and breezy, the palm trees seemed calm and welcoming. With some business colleagues I played Greg Norman’s Great White course. (The other, more famous course, the Blue Monster, was about to host a tournament and closed to the public.) There was lots of water, and lots of sandy waste areas. My tee shots were fairly consistent, and I hit some long and satisfying fairway woods. I did not find the greens particularly difficult. The trouble spots had to do with chips. I’d like to wipe a few of those from memory, such as shots within a few yards off the green that didn’t get to the green. Aaargh!

I stayed two nights at South Beach in a gorgeous little hotel called The Betsy. The lobby has dark wood, palms, and ceiling fans. My room had white furnishings accented with surprising tastefulness in bright pink and orange. There was a television in the bathroom mirror. I’d never thought of needing such a thing, but I loved it immediately. It really improved the shaving experience.

The art deco architecture and bright colors of South Beach are lovely. I’ve thought of Miami in recent years primarily as an airport which, once in, I looked forward to escaping, but I started to see it as a unique and lively international city. It reminded me that I need to keep working on my Spanish.