A day at the golf course offers a very succinct expression of the late modern sportocracy, and after a few recent outings with my best friend Seabs and another with my Dad, I had an opportunity to collect my thoughts and interpret my experiences on the course.
Though it is a production orientation that marks the game of golf when taken as a whole, particularly at the recreational level, each successive stop on the assembly line chain is in fact imbued with libidinal desire. We find that for the most part these two drives are compatible, though we may note that in attempting to accommodate both, friction may be created. More on this shortly.
First, we must ask: What is the product of the commercial golf course?
It is the completed round of golf. It is a post-industrial retrieval of the industrial, but in the form of leisure. It is an agreement between capital and labour, in which the latter may lease the apparatus of production to simultaneously produce and consume this assembly-line manufactured round of golf. It is an opportunity to spend a few hours in a hyperrealized "natural" setting, through the payment of "green" fees — after which many will drive across the heavily fertilized and manicured grass on motorized golf carts.
More on the carts: as with process and supply chain logistics in many other industries, golf wants to streamline production and improve flow. To this end, the golf cart purportedly helps speed up play, and on many courses is a mandatory purchase. Increasingly, these mandatory carts feature embedded GPS and RFID technology designed to improve efficiency even further, thus presenting a radical challenge to the notion of a "good walk spoiled."
Every clock on the golf course assembly line is set to the same time: the time at which you teed off on the first hole. If the time on any one particular clock reads later than the time at which you began your round, then you have become "behind pace." We are outside of real time on the golf course: at once, we are presented with a pastoral time in which gentlemen would knock a ball about during their walk through "nature", and a production time in which completed golf rounds are turned out along the fashion of an assembly line.
It is only on a micro-scale that we begin to detect the libidinal in play. Manufacture begins before stepping to the tee, when the producer puts his ball into the Par Aide ball washer and vigorously pumps the handle up and down. This is a sub-process of hygiene, designed to deliver pristine white balls to the tee box once the pump has been suitably primed.
No gutta percha, this. We are strictly in the realm of balatajaculate, the spermatozoa of golf — evolved, though, in their ability to travel such long distances without a tail.
Then, with a violent swing, the game(te) begins, as the ball leaves the freshly mown (tee) box and shoots up the fairway.
In many sports with a high degree of male bonding, one of the strongest unifying factors is the proverbial swinging dick, and so it is in golf. The driver in golf is nothing more than the extension of the male phallus, shooting Balatajaculate hundreds of yards in all directions (preferably straight) while onlookers go slackjawed or nod approvingly. Even with drivers made out of graphite or titanium or moonrock, or whatever, the man's always got the Number One Wood in his hands.
There's even a class of "golfers" out there who do nothing but hit long drives, evoking comparisons to the disembodied circus schlongs of the porn industry. Preying on our insecurities, both groups can sell our fears back to us, either as equipment to lengthen us on the tee, or in the sack.
If you can't grip it and rip it, then you're not a man at all — or so the subtext reads.
(This graphite extension prefigures the cyborgian coupling of man and machine, amputating the phallus in the process. Once detached, the woman then straps on the technological prosthetic herself, and bangs balls 250 yards plus, with the top female hitters being far more lengthy than the average male and his withering phallocentrism. As with the porn strap-on, men are initially intrigued by the act, but ultimately come to recognize the message of their own obsolescence in the process. Thus, Wie men perceive a threat to our manhood if women are allowed to join the men's golf competition.)
The farther a skilled golfer is able to hit the ball up the fairway, the longer he must wait on the tee box until the group ahead has cleared beyond the danger point of being hit. The further away this invisible threshold becomes, the more pressure against the ubiquitous clock of production. Meanwhile, in an unskilled golfer's hands, the libidinal drive(r) is apt to spray balatajaculate in every direction but straight. This in turn incurs the shame (and penalty) of the lost ball, which, when coupled with longer hitters on the tee box behind, has the potential to create serious bottlenecks along the assembly line, motorized golf cart conveyances be damned.
Thus, we see the slightest friction where production and consumption meet on the golf course. While the two co-exist peacefully for the most part, it would be misleading in this case to declare that the demands imposed by productive power and the libidinal drive(r) of consumption are one and the same, or even totally compatible. Instead, we might suggest that the site of prosumption may contain unique properties and problems that the factory space of the capitalist is not used to administering.