Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Im Only Sleeping

Check out John Updike's short essay, "Never to Sleep, Always to Dream," written for Golf Digest back in 2001:

Tiger Woods did not always win majors with ease; after his narrow victory in the 1999 PGA, he slumped and sighed as if he'd been carrying rocks uphill all afternoon. His suddenly weary demeanor reminded me of a curious physiological phenomenon: One is never tired while playing golf. Afterward, yes, and beforehand, very possibly, but while the score is mounting and the tees and fairways and greens are passing underfoot, fatigue is magically held at bay. I have flown overnight to London, taken the morning commuter plane from Heathrow up to Edinburgh, and driven several hours through a winding chain of Scots villages to a golf course, delirious with jet lag. But once I stepped with my group of groggy Yanks onto the springy turf of the first tee, a rejuvenating exhilaration set in, dissipating fatigue as does the sun the mists of morning. We frisked around like a pack of schoolboys, and only after the 18th hole, in the creaking leather armchairs of the clubhouse bar, partaking of lulling liquors, did we feel our years again.

And in this country, too, the after-effects of a short night's sleep and a premature arising are suspended during play. How can this be? The answer can only be that golf is so entertaining and various in its challenges that the life-giving spirit is wholly engaged; weariness finds no cranny whereby to enter. Think of an average par 4 as a duffer plays it. First, the perilous, all-important drive, which can evade any fairway no matter how wide, and can be sliced, hooked or toppled into any patch of rough no matter how out of the way. Then, once the wee orb has been maneuvered with one blow or many to within, say, 170 yards of the green, there is the iron shot, demanding not the drive's sweeping motion but a sharper, more simultaneously upright and downward swing, ideally culminating in a smart divot and a soaring, straight shot. If ideality does not become reality, a chip of some length is left, requiring crisp contact and a judiciously partial swing. Then, if the chip is not skulled across the green, or chunked into more short rough, or shanked sideways into a bunker, there remain, most likely, two putts—the long putt, requiring a slippery mental image of lagged distance and estimated break on the swales and humps of the green, and the short putt, a testing little snake with its own fangs of dire possibility.

[Photo Credit: Dony Johansyah Habibie]

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