Why I Love Golf: An Ode to a Game Both Democratic and Humbling

And oh, the people you’ll meet.

Who: Doug Moe has several books and countless rounds of golf under his belt.
Where: Vitense Golfland near his home in Madison.

How many baseball fans will ever get to take batting practice at Miller Park? One of the many things I love about golf is that the ordinary golfer can play on the same courses as the gods.

Tiger Woods played his first tournament as a professional at Brown Deer Park in 1996. That event has become a bit like the Ice Bowl – everyone claiming attendance – but I was there, for the opening round.

Five years later I played Brown Deer with my 10-year-old son, Quinn. He could already beat me, and I wasn’t bad.

The temptation is to say golf is about the people you meet through it, and there’s truth in that. Yet some of my most memorable rounds have been played alone, at dusk. I always walk and carry my clubs. I assure you I am not a mystical kind of guy, but there is something magical about approaching the last green as the sun is setting, tired from the walk, a beer waiting, hoping to drain one last putt.

The book that best captures the spirit of the game is Michael Murphy’s Golf in the Kingdom. Twenty years ago, a golfer friend called me from the lobby of the Milwaukee Hyatt. He’d just seen Michael Murphy check in. I called and reached Murphy in his room. I stumbled trying to tell him how much his book had meant to me.

He laughed and thanked me, and immediately began talking about Whistling Straits, the great course near Kohler. Had I played it?

He was generous with his time. I was a golfer, and that was enough.

“Why I Love Golf” appears in the May 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 29, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Doug Moe is a Madison-based writer and former longtime columnist for Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times.