My dad's time away with his friends was on a golf course. He never really mastered the game, but he didn't really care. That's because dad was with his guy friends, relaxing in nature, taking his frustrations out on a little white ball.
You don't have to tell your friend that you're not interested in dating -- he already knows. My guess is he's not going to be happy with the status quo. Once the cat is out of the bag, it is very difficult to put him back in.