Golf Is Hell for Everyone

Heather Nowlin
3 min readNov 14, 2020

Whether you’re perfectly healthy or struggle with Parkinson’s disease

Photo by Peter Drew on Unsplash

My experience with the game of golf is incredibly limited. I’ve done it twice. But what I’d like to expound on today is what a short article in the New York Times about Michael J. Fox’s golf hobby taught me about life.

Michael J. Fox is known for his iconic ’80s roles in Family Ties and Back to the Future, and for his decades-long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a disorder that’s mostly characterized by severe body tremors. It can happen to anyone at any age; the cause is unknown and there’s currently no cure. Michael J. Fox has managed his full-body tremors since 1991.

So it might surprise you to hear that he regularly golfs with friends he refers to as his “uncles,” a group that includes George Stephanopoulos, Jimmy Fallon, Bill Murray, and others. Fox told the Times that this group looks “past my difficulties in playing golf with Parkinson’s and embrace[s] the truth that golf is hell for everyone.”

Whether you have muscle tremors or not, golf is still a game about something that seems objectively impossible. You have to hit a tiny ball several hundreds of feet down a fairway, and land it in a hole that’s just a couple inches bigger than that teeny tiny ball is itself, and all you have to do it with is this long, skinny, weirdass stick.

It seems like a lot to ask of anyone.

I mentioned I’ve golfed twice in my life. The feeling of being out in the sun and fresh air with a group of friends is definitely the best part of this futile and frustrating endeavor. But every once in a while, even if you’re a novice: you take a swing, the club lands where you want it to, there’s this incredibly satisfying “thwack” and you watch that teeny tiny little ball go exactly where it’s supposed to.

And then you do the biggest happy dance anyone ever saw. One of the reasons it’s so rewarding is that it feels so impossible — until it actually happens.

Compare that to life, where you have to navigate this incredibly fragile human body through a series of complicated tasks that don’t seem to change much from day to day but are meant to result in stability, self-actualization, and happiness. And yet, bones are…

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Heather Nowlin

Favorite topics: politics, mental health, travel, business/the office, humans, dogs, empathy, pop culture, movies, books, TV, plays, theatre.