Anyone who has read my Front Pages knows how much I love the game of golf. What I DONT like about golf are a lot of the etiquette-based peripheral issues, mostly involving SLOW PLAY that have become so common in today's game. These days you can't play a round of golf in less than 4 or 5 hours, and usually not without a 5-10 minute wait on each tee box. It's a real problem that plagues not only the average Joe just looking to enjoy a weekend game, but also the upper echelon of players on the PGA Tour as well.
It is for this reason that most of my golf-related activity is now relegated to the driving range...I have officially become a "range rat". Not that this is a bad thing mind you. I do in fact find more relaxation practicing shots on the range and on the putting green than I do actually playing an 18 hole, 5 hour full round of golf. Of course, I do not get the satisfaction of posting a number on an actual score card, but I also don't come home hot, tired, and pissed off about the local contingent of 25 handicappers having held up play as if they were vying for a million dollar payday if they post the lowest number in their half drunk foursome.
Similarly, angling seems to be plagued by the same problem that is causing slow play on golf courses....there are just too damn many people trying to fish the well-known spots. And unlike golf, they are all in a race to get there with tower boats with tunnel hulls, now sporting outboards as high as 500 horsepower. It's downright obscene how bad the "on the water" etiquette has gotten over the last decade.
Last month I was having this conversation with Phil Blackmar...an ex-PGA Tour player, sports commentator, and local fly fisherman who is as madly obsessed with the fly casting stroke as he once was with the golf swing. Phil and I have gotten to become good friends over the past year, and have even shared the boat on one occasion. During one of our recent phone conversations, Phil remarked that he was beginning to enjoy casting as a sport more than he did actually fishing. I didn't even have to ask why....I knew. Long waits at the boat ramps, the rapidly rising cost of fuel, more anglers, fewer fish, and increasingly rude, arrogant, and often downright dangerous boat handling behavior have unfortunately all become the norm rather than the exception. It is for this reason that as I do in my golfing life, I now spend as much or more time on my casting practice course than I do on the water.
Of course, there is no substitute for the feeling of posting a solid number on a historic old track from the Persimmon era that you grew up playing as a kid. Just like there is no feeling like unfolding a loop over a flat rich with your own personal history, experience and memories to a tailing fish that is on the feed. It is for this reason that I will ALWAYS find a way to be on the water, but when I can't, I have found extreme enjoyment in being a fly casting "Range Rat"!
Hope you all are having a great week,