Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Commit Golf

This has been a busy month, so I am running way behind in almost everything.  Among the chores that desperately need doing is golf.  By this time of the month, I usually have given up golf at least once.

I am not a good golfer; it is probably questionable whether I am actually a golfer at all.  Looking at my scores, I golf a pretty good bowling score.  And the reverse is true as well.  I have great enthusiasm, and very little skill.  Unfortunately, the only time great enthusiasm can substitute for talent is during sex.  Still, I have a lot of fun on the links.  The foursomes behind me usually have a little less.

With my modest accomplishments at golf, I should probably refrain from writing about the sport, but it has been my observation that an expert is usually someone with average intelligence who happens to live in another state.  Since most of my readers do not live in New Mexico, I am eminently qualified to offer sage advice.

Always take pecans and peanuts to the golf course.  This idyllic park-like landscape is simply teeming with tame rabbits and bushy-tailed squirrels.  Unfortunately, without food to offer them, you will never get them close enough to hit with a club.  God knows, I’ve tried.  Most of the golfers I know are constantly buying new clubs; absolutely certain that some company must make a driver that even an orangutan can use to hit a ball 350 yards.  Personally, my dream club is a silenced .22 rifle that looks like a nine iron.  I could then, for the first time, honestly say I shot in the low eighties.

Years ago, a couple of new cardiologists came to town and the doc arranged for me to play a round of golf with them.  In hindsight, this was probably a mistake; these doctors had gone to a medical school back east where a low handicap was part of the school admission requirements.  I think my score was about equal with both of theirs added together.  Still, everything was fine until we were on the long par 5 course.  I was standing on the tee box trying my best to concentrate on a long drive that I would inevitably put into a tree when a dove flew right over my head.

I would like to remind the reader that I am from Texas.  Doves are food--we shoot them regularly.  Doves are targets that taste good and that is their only purpose on this planet.  Without even thinking about it, when that bird flew low over my head, I had an instinctive reaction:  I dropped my driver and grabbed for it.  You could try that for a thousand years and never, ever catch that bird.  That day, it whacked into my hand and instantly, I had a fist full of bird with wings, head, feet sticking out between my fingers.

I was shocked.  The two Yankee cardiologists looked frightened.  One of them looked a little shakily at me and asked, “Hungry?”

Select your golf balls with great care, inspect them carefully, and keep them clean.  Whoever finds them will appreciate this.  Personally, I do not put my name on my golf balls.  This practice is about as useless as Robinson Crusoe carving messages on coconuts and tossing them into the sea.  Besides, I am not sure I want to admit how far from the fairway my ball is likely to end up.  I do have two positive pieces of advice; first, water hazards should only be played with range balls.  Secondly, playing even on any hole means that you find as many balls as your lose.

Take great pride in your worst drives, if for no other reason than waiting to brag about a great drive may be about as pointless as France waiting for a military victory before they begin celebrating VE day.  I still remember a fantastic drive off the tee box of the Links Golf Course in Ruidoso.  This may be the longest drive I have ever accomplished; it certainly was the most spectacular slice anyone present had ever witnessed.  I remain dumbfounded at the stupidity of the management at the Lincoln County Savings and Loan.  I would never put a burglar alarm on a window facing a golf course.

Take great care in picking the players of your foursome.  The right group can enhance your golf game tremendously.  My best game ever was with a guy I will call Jay.  (Because that is his name.)  Before we teed off on the first hole, Jay violated club rules and drove his golf cart over to his pickup where he strapped an enormous ice chest to the back of the cart.  When he drove the cart back to the fairway, a young man came running out of the clubhouse.

“Sir!  Sir!” he yelled.  “You aren’t allowed to bring your own drinks onto the course.”

Jay turned and gave that poor kid a withering stare that you can only learn from being a Chief Master Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.  His voice was dripping with scorn as he said, “Son, I’m a diabetic.”

“Oh, sorry.” The young man was almost in tears as he ran back to the clubhouse.  Up to that moment, I hadn’t even known that Michelob made a sugar-free beer.

Obviously, you want to play golf with Jay.  On the other side of the equation, you do not want to play golf with Gimpy.  Gimpy is the brain dead one-legged ex-boyfriend of my sister-in-law, the lawyer.  (Now that is a sentence filled with such dangerous concepts that it deserves a warning label.  To craft a sentence with more potential hazard I would have to write about a toxic dumpsite protecting its daycare center with a mine field.)  I want to make it absolutely clear that it wasn’t his wooden leg that made Gimpy the worst golfer in history, it was his wooden head.  For some reason, the Doc, her sister, Gimpy, and I played a round of golf at the university course.  And for reasons that still escape me, Gimpy wanted to play the entire course with just a seven iron and a putter.

We teed off about nine in the morning.  Roughly an hour later, we were on the third fairway.  You could not have tracked our progress up to that point without GPS.  Think chaos.  Think Ping-Pong balls during an earthquake. 

Legions of groups played through us.  Some of them didn’t even know we were there, as our carts couldn’t be seen from any fairway on the course.  By the third hour, when we were still on the front nine, I had developed a facial tic and trembling hands.  I had spent most of the morning apologizing to foursomes that looked like they wanted to beat me to death with a sand wedge.  Finally, the course marshal drove up to me in his golf cart.

The marshal smiled politely and asked, “Is there a problem?”

“Yes, you idiot!” I roared.  “I’m playing with two women and a one-legged moron!”

Evidently, this happens more often that you would think, the marshal just nodded and drove away without a word.

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