The regular group is a sacred thing in golf. Whole sites, like former Golf Digest writer David Owen's "My Usual Game" (sadly dormant since mid-April) have been devoted to detailing the fun and foibles of a regular cast of characters bound by a common love of the game, and synchronized schedules. On the commercial side of things, resorts and destinations court those hefty pieces of business from buddy group travel.
But don't count out solo golf, or the solitary golfer content to leave his or her company for the round up to the pro shop or conscientious starter. On my travels, I often end up paired with either an existing twosome or threesome or, as the case was at Navy Golf Course Seal Beach's Destroyer Course in Cypress, Calif. recently, three other singles.
There was James, who spoke very little but bowed formally when introducing himself and at the end of the round. Dressed smartly in black J. Lindeberg shorts and matching shirt, his game was inconsistent and he clearly subscribed to a "Look good, play good" philosophy. Daniel was a doctor who pointed out the Destroyer's Tiger Woods-associated landmarks (it's where Earl played golf and brought his young son to hone his game early on) and told me his list of patients over the years has included several elite South Korean and Korean-American golfers. He looked a good decade younger than his age of 61. David, an engineer for Northrop-Grumman, was scouting the course for an upcoming outing of his colleagues. Tall and lanky, he was wild off the tee but putted spectacularly on the course's immaculate greens. There probably won't be any lasting friendships from the round, but for four and a half hours, we were buddies united in the common struggle against the course.