The High And Mighty: Cultivating a Healthy Respect for the Game
Likely as not, next time you’re out knocking it around at the local muni, that dreamy draught of freshly-mown grass might well be infused with a whiff or two of the Weed that Devoured California, i.e., marijuana, pot, giggle-smoke. Legalization means at least one man per foursome is probably guilty of golfing-while-goofy. If you’re allergic to hemp, hold your breath or hail the marshal!
Technically speaking, the local constabulary could handcuff you while you’re lining up a critical birdie putt, and cite you for “lighting up in a public place” — assuming you’re gauche enough to smoke when a few spiked gummy bears will serve nicely. And hey, someday day soon the snack cart might offer greened-up power bars and cold bottles of cannabis cola (times have changed indeed — the cola used to have actual cocaine in it!).
And let’s face facts: This great game of ours was born in a land of strong, peaty hooch, a wee nip of which certainly came in handy when a cold wind combed the links-land. Alas, an ancient argument rears its tedious head yet again: Is cannabis any better or worse for the game than Scotch? We asked a local expert, a veteran starter at the Sepulveda Golf Complex who has seen it all over a 15-year tenure at the 36-hole facility.
“The impact of weed has really been minimal, if anything at all. We, uh, don’t know what happens once they leave the first tee,” he said with a telling smile. “Hopefully they don’t hurt anybody or wreck our carts. As for pace of play, I’d say it’s the same as guys drinking beer — sometimes it could slow it down, and other times it’s go-go-go! All depends on what subset of the culture you’re talking about.”
Mind you, I’m all for whatever takes the edge off, though it’s best to be mindful of what the Greeks called the “golden mean.” Too much of anything — be it Platinum Bubba Kush or an abundance of Bud Light — is likely to be inimical to posting a low score. Of course, fine-tuning one’s neurotransmitters is an old tradition in golf, which is why the PGA TOUR now bans adrenaline-suppressants (aka beta-blockers) and dopamine-boosters like Adderall (the “attention” drug beloved by collegiate crammers).
I also subscribe to the “garbage in, garbage-out” theory: no matter what you drink, smoke or ingest on a given day, you will on average perform no better nor worse than were you of an unaltered state of mind. At Wimbledon last year, a female tennis pro said she and her coach were working on her feeling “nothing” after either a great shot or an unforced error. Lesson learned? It’s better overall to put a tight lid on your emotions than to micromanage your brain chemistry. Easier said than done, to be sure.
Then again, there’s something to be said for an ability to laugh at oneself on the golf course, or to be more susceptible to the charms of birdsong and a painterly sunset. A few puffs of the old goon-gas and our inner Walt Whitman emerges. We might wax a little philosophical even — and are perhaps a bit more tolerant of our beloved playing partners’ quirks and peccadilloes.
“Hey, we’d much rather have guys out there having a good time and not taking out their frustrations on other players — much less the course itself,” our Sepulveda sage observed. “This isn’t scientific, but I’m guessing it’s the juicers who don’t feel obliged to repair their divots or ball-marks on the green. The stoners, well, I would say they have a healthier respect for grass, in any form. That’s not a bad thing for the game.”
Added bonus: That humble hot dog at the turn might just taste like prime rib. Bon appétit!