Jokes about golf and marriage exist, but there is no joke in how golf may help marriages.
"There's an old saying that opposites attract and that's true in the short term," said Paul Springstead, director of clinical services at Northern Pines Mental Health Center. "For long-term relationships the more interests, values and goals in common the better it is.
"If both people enjoy golf and share an interest in it that could be good."
Any activity works as long as both couples enjoy it, Springstead said, but golf is catching on among couples. More women are beginning to play by way of women's leagues. That has translated into an increase in couples on golf courses.
The women's league at Madden's grew from 68 players to 146 in three years. About 20 players showed up Tuesday nights for Joni Meyer's Women's Outings. Now she sees 70 to 80 players each time and needs to use two different courses to accommodate them all.
Meyer, an LPGA professional at Grand View Lodge, created the outings to expose more women to the sport. At the same time she offered Coed Outings one Tuesday each month.
The nine-hole Coed Outings also started slow. Now Meyer and Grand View are offering two a month because of a waiting list of couples wanting to play.
The increased popularity of the outings is no surprise to Meyer.
"Quality time spent playing golf is something that you both can enjoy and share together," said Meyer, who along with her husband, Rodney, play golf together often. "Golf is two hours or four hours of quality time, with or without kids, as it is a fun family sport as well.
"In these days of being so busy we need to take time to enjoy ourselves and being outdoors is wonderful in our beautiful lakes area, whether you walk or take a golf cart. You are enjoying time, sharing a fun sport, and where no one is judging you. You can choose to keep score or not. It is a relatively easy sport to start, no experience necessary, and most all golf courses have clubs to rent if you don't have any."
Jim and Becky Butcher will celebrate their 11th anniversary in October. For six of those years the Butchers have been members at Pine Meadows Golf Club in Brainerd.
"It's something that we enjoy doing together," said Becky Butcher. "To have something in common most definitely helps. Other than golf there really isn't a lot of extracurricular activities Jim and I do together. Jim has his interests and I have mine. This one connection that's really strong."
She added that golf has helped her understand Jim in a different way. Away from the dinner table or in front of family friends, Jim is a different person when playing golf. He takes the game seriously and likes to play well. When he doesn't, Becky sees how he handles his frustrations.
"Just knowing how he reacts in a sport," said Becky Butcher. "When you're competing against yourself you let different sides of your personality out and we're so in tune to each other that we know when not to say anything. We know when to back off."
The standard vow of, "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," needs to be amended to include "through birdies and through bogeys."
"If you can do nine or 18 holes, you're going to have that time together," said Springstead. "Along with sharing interests, spending time together is a big help as long as both enjoy it."
Springstead said problems may arise if one or both of the individuals are competitive. If there has to be a loser, tension can arise causing difficulties between the couple.
The Butchers used to keep handicaps and play against each other. It didn't work so now they just play the course and enjoy each other's company.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.