It is amazing how many people get hooked on golf. And I am not surprised.

Golf is a game where you can be frustrated over all the strokes you play, and still come back to the club house and tell everyone that you have had a wonderful game. Of course, some times you are so frustrated that you feel like throwing your golf clubs away. That is a sure way to avoid the good shots. The rule is "hit it, forget it and walk".

Anyway, what makes golf so addictive and what makes people pick up the sport?

As I had decided to start I wondered who I could play with. At that time I did not know any golf players living close by, and I assumed that I would be alone on the golf course. Who would want to play with a newcomer like me?

First of all, I have met several players at the golf club through the tournaments they arrange and there is often someone I can play with when I get up to the driving range. I can also enjoy the game alone and try to improve on my best score so far. I have a certain competence that is expressed through my handicap, and my aim is to play the next hole better than I did last time.

A great advantage of golf is that the handicap system evens out the differences among players at different levels. There are not that many competitive sports where a bad player can enjoy playing with a good one. Take tennis, for example - I know I would not have any fun playing against a world champion and she would have to slow down her play to let me catch a ball or two. Playing golf against Tiger Woods, however, would be a lot of fun - for me at least. He would have to accept that I needed about 30-40 shots more than he did, and that I needed to search for the ball when it was in the bushes. But I could still beat him! He would have to beat his own handicap if we were playing according the Stableford rules, and even with my 30 strokes more, I could end up with more points. And I would get to watch him and learn all the way.

It does not have to be that extreme difference. Two partners at different levels can enjoy a game together.

The game is so addictive - and competitive - is because it looks so simple, but is not. The ball is lying still and I have (almost) all the time in the world to select the right club, position myself as close or far away as I want, take as many practice swings as needed - and then hit the ball. With all the preparations and odds on my side, I will still not hit that ball as perfectly as I had imagined. And it is entirely my fault. If I or the ball - or both of us - were moving, as in football or basketball or most all other ball sports, then I would have an excuse. Not so in golf. Of course I can blame it on the bad position of the ball, the unexpected piece of grass or the disturbance of someone talking or a fly that happened to fly by. And I will blame it on these things so that I can feel 100% sure that the next time I try to hit the ball I will see it fly in a perfect curve, bounce once on the green and roll into the cup. That is what I am expecting to see.

It happened to me once. I was 80 meters away from the green on hole number 3, it was early Saturday morning and the ball made a path on the dew. I was standing absolutely still after the stroke and just could not believe what had happened. I am still waiting for it to happen again, but I am not holding my breath.