When I took up golf, not quite 25 years ago, I was embarrassed to swing a club in public. On the first tee one day, I hit my ball sideways, nearly killing a man on the putting green. I sliced so many balls into the woods that I seldom had trouble finding one of my own when I went into the woods to look for the one I had just put there. I clawed enormous divots from the fairways. I launched putts in improbable directions and wildly miscalculated distances.
The more I played, though, the more I realized that I wasn't all that much worse than most of the other golfers I saw, and that even the ones who were much better than I was didn't mind having me around as long as I didn't hold them up. In fact, they scarcely seemed to notice me at all, so absorbed were they in their own struggles. As my friend Jim explained: "Nobody ever gave a shit about how anybody else played golf."