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Par None: Whether Golfing in Hawaii or Griffith Park, it's Not for Me

Image: Ophelia Chong<br />
Image: Ophelia Chong

I hate golf.

My parents play golf: They've played at some of the best courses around the world and they play together to keep each other company. You could say it is love they love more than golf.

I started playing to keep a boyfriend happy. I just didn't get it. It wasn't strenuous exercise, you drank at the 9th hole, you rode in an electric buggy, and the most sweat you gave off was when you wiggled your behind. Even gripping the handle wasn't intuitive for me; I kept putting the wrong digit over the wrong one.

During one game I was in a foursome. When one guy hit his ball into the trees, I laughed out loud. I got a look that almost melted my nine iron. I kept my mouth shut after that. If you can't play with a sense of humor, why bother?

I played a few courses, one of my favorite was Maui's Kapalua course, not for the golf but for the scenery and the spam musubi at the 9th hole, a tasty combination of rice, dried seaweed and spam. If the food and view was good, I was there.

The one I played the most at was the Harding Municipal Golf Course in L.A.'s Griffith Park, a public course that has the real down home feel of "real" golf. Not that $300 for 18 holes feel, but a real "you are here to play golf" feel for a reasonable fee. The clubhouse is a throw back to a time of cigarette ash trays, American beer, soggy fries, and the smell of grass and dirt. The only thing that has changed is that smoking isn't allowed within a mile of the clubhouse.

I even played the 3 par course near the Eat diner on Los Feliz Boulevard in Atwater Village. It was more my speed, but even there I never got near par.

My golfing style was not improving. Not that I tried to improve it, my style was to whack the ball, walk up to it, whack again until I got to the hole. After a while I even stopped recording my scores. Other people were determined to get me to play seriously so I was given a gift of lessons at the pro shop at Griffith Park. My first lesson consisted of me trying to hit the balls. After the 10th ball I finally hit one: it ricocheted off the post to the overhang to the next stall. The golfer that almost got beaned looked at me and shook his head. I looked at my instructor, poured out the rest of the balls from the bucket and shook his hand. The bag of clubs finally got donated to Goodwill last year after gathering dust and spiders in the garage for a decade. I fantasize that a young girl aspiring to be Lydia Ko (the youngest female to win a pro tournament) practicing with the clubs, but in reality I bet they ended up in a performance art piece at an art school.

I love cycling, though. I ride through Griffith Park and when I pass the golf course, I silently nod knowing the golfers are probably glad to see me pass on by.

Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog

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