I recently took up two new hobbies: golf and sport shooting (i.e., Skeet and Trap shooting). On a metaphysical note, both the golf hole and the clay pigeon are about four inches in diameter. Hmmm. A real Freud beard scratcher.

Best I can tell, I have no natural talent for either sport. Yet I keep coming back, despite the deep and profound frustration and frequent humiliation. Why? I have several reasons:

  • Both sports offer unparalleled camaraderie. The people involved are genuinely nice, eager to help and kind to beginners. This is probably because both sports can be humbling – even the most experienced golfer or shooter is one bad shot away from feeling like a beginner themselves.

  • Both sports usually end with lunch and drinks, which go a long way towards healing the pain of failure, and offer an opportunity to form and foster friendships.

  • Both sports offer greater and greater challenges. Boredom is never an issue. If you can hit 25 out of 25 shots in Skeet (you dang showoff), try Sporting Clays – a game played walking, gun unmounted, with “teals” that fly straight up, “rabbits” that bounce along the ground and sometimes even shots dropped from a tower. It will leave you talking like Elmer Fudd. Bored with your local golf course? Six of Golf Digest’s 20 toughest courses in America are in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They will leave you talking to yourself.

  • You never lack for something to do on the weekend. Play golf from April to September, shoot from October to March.

  • Both sports are handicapped, so you can readily mark your progress.

  • Both sports are handicapped, so if you have a good day you could actually win something.

  • With few exceptions, both sports readily accept newcomers. Okay, some experienced golfers can be, um, testy, but it is usually pretty easy to figure out who to avoid. A hint: if you hear one sigh or witness one eye roll, pick up.

  • Both sports require a unique and difficult-to-achieve mixture of calm and focus. Very zen. Getting upset just makes things worse.

  • Apropos of the previous statement, both sports reveal one’s personality flaws and weaknesses. My weaknesses include impatience and a boatload of pride. Not like the U2 song, Pride (In the Name of Love). More like the Pharisees.

  • Both sports offer opportunities to wear costumes. I am not a big fan of dressing up for Halloween, but I own some brightly colored summer clothing that is only socially acceptable on a golf course. It would probably get me arrested in Manhattan, unless I could figure out how to wear it ironically. In sport shooting you can dress up like a 1950’s Orvis catalog model or wear head-to-toe plaid and no one will bat an eye.

Looking for Something to Do This Weekend?