Teeing it up, Mario style!
By RALPH HARDIN
Evening Times Editor I first tried golf about 20 years ago. My Dad found a deal on a pretty decent used set of left-handed golf clubs at a garage sale and picked them up for me. They sat in my shed untouched for a couple of years until a guy from work mentioned that he played a little and that there were some cheap and fairly easy golf courses over in Memphis if I wanted to give it a try.
I did indeed give it a try and while I was certainly not “good,” I did not embarrass myself. A couple more years later and I had gone back to college to finish my degree and I needed a P.E. course as part of my classes, so I took golf. I then spent a semester learning all about golf, including swing styles, club choices, putting strategies, etc. Most importantly, I got to play golf three times a week for an hour and a half, basically “for free” – the quotes are because I, of course, had to pay for the class, but the golf itself was no additional cost.
Anyway, it was in taking that class that I got as good as I ever got. I was able to usually keep my score for 18 holes at a relatively simple golf course in the single digits (for the uninformed, “par” for the course is usually 72 or so, so when I say double digits, I literally mean like less than 100 … oh, and in golf the lower the score the better). My wife even got into it for a while and we played pretty often that summer. I even got my very own driver to replace the wellused one that had come with the set.
Well, whatever skills I had honed while in my golf class simply didn’t stick. Before too long, I was hooking and slicing and drowning balls in the lakes and ponds at the golf course in Marion pretty regularly. I gave it up for a while and when I tried to pick it back up about 12 years ago, I was no longer able to keep my score in the double digits. I can only do something I’m not very good at for so long before I simply stop doing it. Especially something as expensive and time consuming as golf. I can, for example, be bad a tennis for the cost of a $15 racket and $3 can of balls that will last me basically forever.
So my golf career has basically been over for a decade. And that’s fine. I’ve actually gotten pretty OK at tennis and I also still regularly play volleyball and badminton and occasionally softball. All of which, I still feel compelled to point out, are cheaper and less time consuming than golf. My sons gave sports a try (one played baseball and basketball, the other played soccer in high school) but they really just wanted to play video games. And before you turn your nose up at video games, they are actually pretty fun. My middle child even played on his college’s “E-Sports” team, which, in case you didn’t know, is an actual thing, like where these college teams actually compete in actual matches against each other in popular video games. There are scholarships and everything.
And let me also add that as much as some people like to scoff at video games, they are a legitimate form of arts and entertainment, and they can also be an important part of mental health. I’ll bet there a lot of folks who leaned heavily on video games during all the lockdowns last year for social interaction, to help with anxiety and depression, and just to have something to do when it was deemed too dangerous to go out in public. I know me and my QuaranTEAM played a lot of games, both of the video variety and the traditional board and card variety last year.
I will go ahead and admit, some of the video games out there have sort of passed me by. I can barely walk around in a complex game like “Call of Duty” without getting blown up, and my only real strategy when playing “Fortnite” the few times I’ve tried is to just hide until there are only a few people left and then come out … and immediately get killed. That’s why I stick with simpler games with old school roots like “The Legend of Zelda” or button-mashers like “Mortal Kombat.”
And speaking of “old school,” I’m sure even if you haven’t picked up a video game controller in 30 years you remember Super Mario. Well, Mario and his friends, like Luigi and Bowser and Donkey Kong also like to play sports. And for my birthday last month, I got “Super Mario Golf” for my Nintendo Switch. The game is actually a lot like real golf, in that you need to hit the right club and adjust for the wind and weather. You just might have to hit around a lava pit or over a giant mushroom to get your ball in the hole. So, we’ve all spent the past week or so battling it out on the living room sofa.
And … and I can’t stress this enough. It’s cheaper than real golf.