All species have their annual rites of spring.

Some roll out of the cave after the long winter hibernation, others flex and primp and prepare for the mating season and others hone their antlers for the annual test of “King of the Hill.” Trees bud, flowers bloom, birds twitter and I busy myself preparing for my springtime test of strength, stamina, skill and courage, which, if well performed, will vault me into the rarified air of legends.

I play golf.

Actually, I play something similar to, but not exactly real, golf; Justin, Dustin, Tiger and Phil play golf. I am practicing all facets of the game from tee shots to smoothing the putting stroke and generally tuning up the old swing.

Real golfers merely tweak their game, making subtle changes in anticipation of the course on which they will play, weather, wind and type of greens, turf and sand. I make changes in anticipation of avoiding injury.

As you may know, golf success is much more mental than physical, though being in great physical shape definitely helps in the pursuit of perfection. It goes without saying that if you do attempt to play golf you might be physically capable, but you are undoubtedly mentally deficient.

Yogi Berra had it right: “Ninety percent of golf is half mental.” Well, I think he had it right, but in any event you get the gist of it.

My “golf game,” as I so euphemistically refer to it, is a tattered remnant of a day long gone, shrouded in the mist of memory and time. In my youth my swing was honed, my chipping crisp and my putting sure. Well, anyway, that’s the way I remember it.

Golf is a maddening endeavor. The best and worst golfers in the world will concur that it comes and goes and no matter how much you practice, read, study the videos or watch the pros, the game is a frustrating and fickle devil.

One day up and the next day down, from smoking it down the middle to stumbling around the forest hunting your golf balls like mushrooms. No matter what disaster occurs today, no matter the anguish or even the little triumphs, tomorrow brings another day, another opportunity in the quest.

The golf equipment industry is a multi-billion-dollar business built on the premise and prayers of every golfer that all they need is that one perfect club, that one magic putter and perfection can and will be attained.

It might even be the shoes or the magic ball. New equipment is introduced on a daily basis, all with the promise of lowering the handicap, smoothing the swing and propelling you to the exalted ranks of “golfer.”

There are gadgets for keeping your head down, left arm straight, elbow tucked for hitting the sweet spot every time and all kinds of practice aids sure to improve not only your golf game, but your workplace status and your love life. Most come with a 30 day trial and satisfaction is almost always guaranteed.

You can get your money back if it isn’t satisfying enough, but you’ll need a note from the golf pro, your boss and your wife. No one ever applies for the refund.

Out there on the range with blistered hands, sunburned skin and perspiration dripping from every pore hitting balls and reading putts. Diligence is grinding out another day of training the mind and body to exhaustion for an impeccable, flawless performance.

Is the work, the effort, the sacrifice and mental torture really worth it? I decided … nope.

Let those who make it their living expose themselves to the rigors of perfect golf while I make a sandwich, pop a can and settle in to another hour of the Golf Channel.

I’m bound to pick up a tip or two that will catapult me to the top of my game.

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Jock Davidson is an area resident who writes this column for The Advocate & Democrat. Contact him at jockdsmail@aol.com

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