We Want it More NYC

We Want it More

Golf here takes longer than a New York minute, but it's worth every second

Good morning! Get your shit together, because it’s time to play golf in the greatest city in the world. 

The round will take five hours if you’re lucky, and you’re hoping the commute will be less, but you’re prepared. You’re heading to Marine Park or Dyker Beach or Pelham Bay or Van Cortlandt. One day you might play the Trump course in the Bronx, but the city didn’t win that lawsuit to wrest the ownership of it from him, so if you can get past his giant sign still facing the highway, have at it. And of course you refreshed the website all week trying to get a time at Bethpage Black, but the online bots snapped them up like Taylor Swift tickets, so you’re once again resigned to the regular ol’ muni fate. 

This is a place where being late has been elevated to an art form, but still you’ve left 30 minutes earlier than you need to; hostesses can adjust when you’re tardy to a dinner reservation, but starters won’t, and when you’re rushing to a round at Silver Lake or La Tourette, you know the Staten Island Ferry comes only once every half hour. You’ve considered taking an Uber, but you’re feeling responsible today. The train’s only $2.75, and think about what you’re going to spend on the round. That cart fee can be a killer. And who are you kidding? You’ll probably split a car back home with the others in your group anyway. You set off, your pre-round optimism fueled by a bodega bacon, egg and cheese. The pushcart mafia was nowhere to be found when the five families divvied up the city, so you merge onto the sidewalk, bag on your back. It’s no problem anymore; you’ve mastered the sideways shoulder bend to avoid passersby.

We Want it More NYC

Your non-golf friends who live in the city don’t understand why you go through all of this just to hit a stupid little ball. They text in vain, “Forget it and come to brunch on Sunday in Brooklyn!” Nope. Your golf friends who live in other places don’t get it either. “You could just move,” they say with a baffled tone. But you know that if you didn’t live in New York City, you’d have to live somewhere other than New York City. Your non-NYC golf buddies take it for granted that their clubs stay in their car trunks or cozied in the garage. Yours have stood sentinel in a corner of your apartment all week, calling to you like a siren song. The concept of a twilight nine or a morning range session on the way to work is nigh impossible. Sure, in your weaker moments you yearn for a nonchalant golf experience where you roll out of bed, decide to play 18, hop in the car and drive to the course. But this is the City, baby. Only the strong (and those who called around for a time by midweek, at the latest) get on the tee sheet.

Don’t forget your headphones, and be careful while bear-hugging your bag as you push through the turnstile. You see everything on the train here. Maybe it’s 3 a.m. and you’re leaving House of Yes and the party keeps jumping because someone wheeled a DJ setup into the subway, or perhaps you admire a performer doing everything they can to make sure their cello doesn’t hit the roof on their way to a gig. But there’s nothing like seeing someone else on their journey to tee it up. You nod in solidarity as you watch them do that delicate, familiar dance of holding the pole with one hand while keeping their bag from tipping over as they lurch from one stop to another. Even if they don’t have the sticks on them, there are subtle ways to notice a fellow sicko. This is one of the world’s fashion capitals, but a golf brand’s new hat is the season’s must-have accessory for us. You lock eyes briefly and knowingly. Maybe you drop a quick “Hit ’em straight” before you disembark, because if you see something, you say something.

The city is a melting pot, and so are its courses. Golfers come in all colors, especially at Flushing Meadows’ Pitch and Putt, an 18-hole chipping mecca in the World’s Borough. Golf is community, but golf in New York City is a specifically shared experience. The public scene is full of folks from all backgrounds and skill levels, from beginners who picked it up in the midst of COVID to lifelong hackers getting their weekly fix. You’ve got finance bros, sanitation workers and artists all bunched together. Personal space doesn’t exist in the city; golf courses stack foursomes on top of each other like the cemetery next to Forest Park does its headstones.

We Want it More NYC

It all gives you a greater understanding of why the snowbirds flee the city for Florida in the winter. Dropping your handicap in Del Boca Vista is a piece of cake. We’ve got simulators for when it’s raining or the ground is frozen, but Ben Hogan said the secret was in the dirt, not on the mats at Chelsea Piers. The great irony of golf here is that in a city where it seems like every experience is within easy reach, merely getting to the course can make you question the real definition of Golf’s Longest Day. We all know people here who no longer have the will to put up with the hassle. They’ve reclaimed eight hours of their weekend, but at what cost?

Golf anywhere is fulfilling. Here, though? When you step to the first tee, you’ve already accomplished a major victory. For 18 holes, you’ll have the same experiences as every golfer, doing this thing we all love and love to hate. But when you leave to go back to that apartment that’s too expensive, ready to get some sleep in a city that never does, you remember you wouldn’t want to do all of this anywhere else.