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“Par for the Course”
by Stephen Senter, Guest Columnist

August 5, 2002

Stephen Senter - Guest Columnist I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “Golf – a good walk ruined!” I have learned to appreciate the game a lot more in recent years. It has taken a while for me to be relaxed enough about the result to enjoy the experience. I don’t know whether my score has improved because I am more relaxed about the game or my game has improved because I am more relaxed about the score. In either case, the round is far more enjoyable than it used to be. And I think I have learned a life lesson along the way too.

Golf seems like a very simple game. You have a clearly defined starting point from which you hit the ball with a club until it drops into a clearly defined hole. All you have to do is count the number of times you hit the ball and record that number as your score for the hole (there are rules about unusual circumstances like when you hit your ball into a pond but let’s not complicate things too much). There are 18 holes on a golf course so you repeat the process 18 times. Add all the individual scores together and you have a final score for your round of golf. What could be easier?

Granted, there have been occasions when I needed a calculator to keep track of my score on just a couple of holes. That’s okay. The trouble comes when I compare my result to that measure we call “par”. Par is the score that has been assigned as ideal for each individual hole. If a hole is a par four, then it should take you two shots to reach the green and two shots to put the ball in the hole for a score of four for the hole. Everyone evaluates their score according to “par”. If you do one better than par it is called a “birdie”, one worse than par a “bogey” and the naming convention goes on and on. But who determines what is par? There are par four holes on which I consistently hit the ball onto the green with a single shot. There are also par four holes on which I have never reached the green with less than three shots. Obviously I like the first hole better! There must be an incorrect par assignment for the second hole! It makes me feel bad!

Maybe if I change the definition of par on that hole, my golf game will be improved. And I will feel better. I can hire a lawyer and get petitions signed by other golfers who feel the same way. I can appeal to the clubhouse professional to recognize my higher score as par on that hole. I can stage formal protests around the hole and do everything possible to bring negative attention to anyone who resists my petition – especially those golfers who for some inexplicable reason keep getting par on that hole. What right do they have to get par on a hole where I can’t? That just doesn’t seem fair. I think they should be punished for making me feel bad about my golf game and about myself.

Does my argument sound a little silly? I hope so, because I think it is exactly that. If you are not able to get par on a hole then you need to change the way you are playing the game - not redefine par.

So what is the life lesson? Brace yourself because here comes an opinion that some may consider offensive. I think that people who are trying to redefine “marriage” because they can’t score “par” in this aspect of their life are beyond silly. They are selfish and have hurtful intent toward those who can and have scored par in this aspect of their life. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is the foundation of the family. It is par for the human experience.

If you can’t score par then accept it and move onto the next hole. If you really want to do something different then call it something different. How about “pairing“ or “coupling” or “union”? If you think what you are doing deserves some legal recognition then go ahead and seek it. But don’t cheapen or dilute the values of others simply because yours are different. There is, of course, a value or morality question involved here. Some (myself included) will say that if you seek to be joined in life with someone of the same sex then you are making an immoral choice. If that hurts you, either learn to live with it or change your behaviour.

After all, no one has yet filed a legal injunction asking for their golf score to be legally recognized as the same as that of Tiger Woods. Hey, there’s an idea… ***

© 2002 Stephen Senter

A native of Great Britain, Senter is a Senior Program Systems analyst who owns his own company and has worked in the computer industry for close to 15 years. A graduate of the University of Waterloo with Bachelor's Degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science, he lives with his wife of over 10 years and their family in Canada.

COPYRIGHT © 2002 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN. All writers retain rights to their work.