Watching the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week... the Crown Plaza Colonial Invitational next week... reminds me again why I really do think golf is the greatest game.

I've thought that ever since my grandfather started me playing when I was only 12. He told me then to learn this game, because it's the only game you can play into your 80s and play with anybody.

He played until he was 81. He couldn't see anymore; I'd tee it up for him, he'd hit it, I'd run ahead and take it about 50 yards further down.

He thought he was an incredibly long hitter for an 81-year-old man.

I still remember those days, and I always will, because if you can play golf with an 81-year-old man who can't see, you can play golf with Tiger Woods and everybody in-between.

You can't play tennis with someone unless they play like you (unless you like serving and then picking it up... and then they serve and you pick it up again).

And basketball? Football? Baseball? Really, I guess some old guys might still play, but as much as I enjoyed all those games, I don't care to play 'em anymore.

But that's only part of why golf is the greatest game. It is, and certainly can be, a teacher about life.

The game's First Tee program teaches kids about the etiquette of golf; the etiquette that the other sports never do.

No golfer has ever punched an official... I don't think a golfer has even yelled at one... and maybe because golf really doesn't need any.

Golfers call penalties on themselves.

Can you imagine a basketball game without refs? A baseball game without umpires? A tennis match without a line judge? A football game without the men in the striped shirts?

Every sport I know, every player who plays, will cheat to win.

Except a golfer.

The guys at your local club who do cheat? They're not golfers... they're the hacks who shouldn't be allowed to play, and apparently don't understand the greatness of this game.

And another reason why I respect the professional golfer more than most athletes I know: They only get paid when they do play.

A baseball player fails seven of his 10 times at the plate? We build a statue outside the stadium.

a basketball player who makes half his shots? Another statue.

And a team that wins four of the seven games they play? We have a parade.

But a golfer on Sunday who misses a shot... certainly no more than two... becomes the loser who couldn't handle the pressure. He's accused of "choking" and has no teammates to help... and no place to hide.

And a paycheck that is now a fraction of the one he was dreaming about earlier.

And we even make 'em keep score, which I do think is kind of stupid. Imagine asking Dirk Nowitski how many points he scored... and if he's wrong, he's out.

But golf is the greatest game.

It's a game for the ages, and for all ages.

A game you never master, a game you never own (you can only rent it a while).

The bad shots will always come back, but that one good one will bring us back.

My grandfather taught me that when he was 81 and I was only 12.

When we played our favorite game together.

The only game we could play together.

The greatest game.


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