For most of us, we play golf into two stages during life: growing up and adulthood. There is often a break in the stages of life and when we play golf. I took a good 10 years off and did not get deep into golf for another 10 years. What would it look like if we documented the journey and process? Carl Hiaasen did just that in his book The Downhill Lie.
Carl Hiaasen is a writer with 14 novels to his credit and writes for the Miami Herald. With support from his publisher, family and friends, he decided to pick golf up again after not playing since his teenage years. The journey is tracked in the book between chapters and diary entries dated by days since he started playing golf again. The goal of the book and Carl’s golf game is the member guest tournament at Carl’s local course.
That possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at which he’d never excelled in his prime, and which in fact had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation?
The Downhill Lie Story
Carl faces many mental struggles in his golf reeducation. One major element he works to overcome is his fear of being paired with better players while he is still learning. Like most of us, he does not want to slow down someone’ else day or take 6 shots to get to where they took 2 shots.
The other element facing Carl and anyone getting back into golf is the investment in the game and its equipment.
My plan, though, is to start cheap. Minimizing investment in golf gear should make it easier not to take the game so seriously and , if necessary, allow for an honorable retreat. Dropping fifteen hundred bucks on a new set of clubs would have been a heavy, long term commitment – who needs that kind of pressure?
Through the Downhill Lie, we watch Carl learn that ling cheap in the modern golf world is a mistake. He finds that his clubs do not fit his swing style. One year later he writes:
I owned two pairs of golf shoes and a half a dozen vivid shirts in which I wouldn’t be caught dead in twelve months ago. I had four drivers of varying lofts, weight distributions and shaft flexibility, and I couldn’t hit any of them the same way twice. I was trying out a flashy new putter that I was concealing from my wife, and I fouled myself conversing about gap wedges and fairway hybrids with person I barely knew.
Golf will do that to you. Expensive equipment does not solve all problems but going cheap will not start you on the right foot.
The Downhill Lie is a Hero’s Journey
I liked Carl’s honesty his writing. He plays the role of Average Joe very well. When he is happy, he is happy. More often though, he wallows in his woes and high self expectations.
A hybrid might rescue a player from a bad lie, but there is no rescue from a bad swing. When you suck, you suck.
I was hoping Carl would not give up through the book as some points it seemed he got close the the breaking point. We have all been there.
Through out the Downhill Lie, Carl mentions several books or items we have talked about on this blog. He sites Harvey Penick and Jospeh Parent and even bought a Momentus swing trainer. We are like minds in our approach to golf and thinking of the game as a many layered onion.
I liked this book and found myself rooting for Carl through the member guest tournament at the end. This is not a tale of perfection or Carl’s undying love of golf. He threatens to quit several times through out the book. This book brought out some laughs and more then a few head nods in solidarity. Carl is one of us and we thank him for writing it all down.
You can follow Carl on Twitter @carl_hiaasen
Other book by Carl Hiaasen: