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In the Front Row: It's better to have loved and lost than to never have made par at all

I ended a serious, long term relationship earlier this year. One that, on some days made me feel like I was on top of the world, and on others made me miserable, and ashamed to go home to my wife.

It was a typical love-hate relationship. One that gripped me so tightly I thought I could never let go. One that I poured my heart and soul into, but in the end realized wasn't worth all the passion and hard work I put into it.

I quit playing golf.

I never intended to get so serious about it. As a youth I could care less. But we began messing around when I was in college, and I found it was an amusing, flirtatious diversion that provided a much-needed respite from the rigors of academia. Soon I was skipping class and skirting assignments to squeeze in nine holes two or three times a week.

No wonder it took me seven years to finish school.

Eventually I started to spend even more time -- and money -- on my newfound love. At one point in my life I owned more pairs of golf shoes than I did everyday shoes. And every year it seemed there was another gadget or magic golf club that would promise me lower scores and more self-esteem.

After I married I thought I would get my priorities back in order. But it wasn't long before I was sneaking out of the house early Sunday mornings, or missing family functions to play until dark. I was infatuated with lush, rolling fairways and firm, perky greens.

It was only a matter of time before I found myself needing more. The occasional score in the low 80s didn't thrill me like it used to. Where at one time I was perfectly content to walk away with a two-putt bogey, I eventually found myself growing increasingly exasperated over missed par putts.

The birdies, which I used to brag about to my friends, became tougher and tougher to record. Eagles were extinct. The trees began taunting me. Sand traps mocked me. Water hazards called out my name.

And they say golf is a quiet game.

The relationship became more and more strained, and I found myself growing steadily more ill-tempered. My 7-iron, which used to provide me with frequent crescendos of pleasure, became cranky and erratic. My 5-wood, once trusting and loyal, rebelled and abandoned me.

I wrapped the 7-iron around a tree. And the 5-wood ended up in the bottom of a pond.

I was ashamed. I knew it wasn't the game's fault. I tried to make amends but I never developed the same passion about the new utility club in my bag. Golf became a chore. And I found my eye wandering towards other attractions.

So I took the high road and ended my toxic affair. To help with the healing process I've rekindled an old romance with my fishing rods. We're taking it slow for now, getting together only every other week or so because I don't want to make the same mistakes over again.

So far things are going well. I'm not as irritable and cranky as I used to be, and I've had the added benefit of enjoying a few freshly-caught trout on the grill.

But most importantly, I've yet to wrap a fishing pole around a tree.