Sometimes when I tell people I play golf, they'll say something like "I didn't know you were a golfer!" Problem is, I'm not a golfer. Not yet. At least not in my mind. I'm still just someone who plays golf.
There's certainly no precisely-defined border one crosses on the way from playing golf to being a golfer, but I know I haven't entered that territory yet. It's sort of like the definition Justice Potter Stewart came up with for pornography: "I know it when I see it." I'll know when I become a golfer.
Being a golfer entails a certain amount of respect for the game, its rules and its traditions. I think it also needs to be your number one game, the one for which you would forsake all other sporting pastimes. Being a golfer also requires a commitment to practice and a goal of continuous improvement. Under those criteria, I qualify. But I also think a requisite amount of skill is required to take the mantle of "golfer." And that's where I fall short.
I'm getting closer, though. The border may be a fuzzy one, but I'm beginning to sense a change in landscape that tells me I'm headed in the right direction and making progress. When I know I've gotten there, I'll let you know. But only if you ask.