Most alternate-side parking days, though, I decide to go play golf. It’s fifteen minutes to the golf course, a place called Dyker Beach, and thirty from another, Marine Park. They’re both owned by the city and equally a ripoff, but Marine Park’s a nicer course so it’s always more crowded.
But even an uncrowded golf course in New York City is populated unlike any other on this earth. Here they take the subway to play, buses, lugging clubs blocks on both ends. They sit in traffic on the BQE, the Belt, the West and East Side highways, FDR Drive, waking up at 5:30 for an 8:30 tee time. There are almost no driving ranges here, either, so for beginners it’s truly sink or swim and let God sort it out. Yeah you can go to the range at the Chelsea Piers, and apparently there’s one on Roosevelt or Governor’s Island or something, plus Marine Park has one, but if you’re making the trip you might as well make a day of it.
Either by design or providence, golf is slow here. Look left and it’s lush as North Carolina, right and it’s an impossibly packed street with life moving a thousand miles a minute. Or: It’s a fuckin’ zoo out here, says Eddie, a man who starts talking to me in the Dyker bathroom. He’s wearing a New York Mets polo and a Titleist cap with the Mets logo etched on the side and contorts syllables in ways which were heretofore only theoretically possible. And the first cut? They gotta do something about that shit, I lost three, four, fuckin’ balls out there.
That’s the city of New York for you, I say, complaining about the city government as my partner’s father has taught me to do. Among true New Yorkers, I have been told, hatred of local bureaucracy is one of the few things uniting the citizens of the most diverse city in the world, a hatred so strong that it is present even among those who work for it.
Don’t even get me started about the bunkers, he continues, they were supposed to fix them last summer but did they? You gotta take a drop every time, it’s all rocks in there.
He didn’t even get to the bees, which I have come to loathe and fear here; for some reason most of the sand traps are infested with them, big ones, maybe wasps, buzzing incuriously as you gingerly remove your ball from their territory. Something tells me it’s them that keeps the city from putting new sand in, because whoever has the task will get stung, and either no one wants to be the one to fall on that particular sword, or maybe they do in the hopes that they’ll get stung enough times to get rubber-roomed and so the city’s trying to play some three-dimensional chess. Regardless, the bunkers belong to the wasps now.
But the thing is, golf in New York is special. It’s a commitment, between the traffic and the slow play guaranteeing that it’ll take up your whole day to the lost balls in the tall rough and hitting out of divots in the fairway to the slow greens to the fact that you could literally die out there. So you better savor it. And much like living in the city itself, the hope is you reach a point where endurance sublimates into enjoyment, a pride that by simply being there and going through it your will has grown strong, strong like a DMX video or the guy I saw uptown doing resistance band exercises on a sign pole, which now that I think about it sounds like a thing that would be in a DMX video.
Oh, Eddie hated that the grill was only open on the weekends, by the way, it was open on a Monday the last time he was here, but now they’ve got a sign up saying it’s only open on Saturdays? What the fuck’s up with that, he’s had it with this place. He’ll be back next Tuesday, he says, he’ll see me then if I’m around.