Today President Obama, Vice President Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, and Ohio Governor John Kasich tee off for a round of golf. They say they will talk about deficit reduction and other political issues as they travel around the course, and also will use the round as a chance to get to know one another better.
Golf can be a good bridge-builder between people who don’t know each other very well, but it also can reveal things about your playing companions that aren’t very positive. For example, some golfers like to bet on the game every time they play. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you do you’d better have been honest about your handicap and you’d better play by the rules. There’s nothing worse than a sandbagger with a phony handicap who mysteriously manages to shoot a “career round” every time a bet is on the line, or a cheater who drops a ball to avoid a lost ball penalty or kicks his ball into better position.
There are other bad things to watch out for, too. Is the guy you’ve been paired with a chatterbox, a braggart, or a bore? Is he a slow player, or an incessant waggler? Does he give unwanted advice about your swing? If he is playing poorly, does he give tiresome post mortems about the surprising crappiness of his game? Does he concede putts that reasonably should be conceded, or does he take “gimmes” that really aren’t “gimmes” at all? If betting is involved, how does he perform when the match is on the line? And if he does not prevail, is he a sore loser?
Golf can tell you a lot about a person whom you don’t know very well. It would be interesting to know what perceptions get formed as a result of today’s leisurely match.