Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hobbies – Part the Second

Golf is not a game, it's bondage. It was obviously devised by a man torn with guilt, eager to atone for his sins. ~Jim Murray

The quintuple bogeys (see Part the First) are not the only reason I gave up golf. After all, if everyone quit doing things just because they were inept at doing them, the highways be devoid of cars, as 90% of drivers would have begun walking to work. Only about six people would be able to run for president; unfortunately, they would be too smart to do so. Based on my personal experience, 60% of all dentists would be forced to find another vocation.

No, mere ineptitude would not have been sufficient to sour me on the game. There were other factors.

The Uniform
I am a casual sort of person. All right, I'm a slob. I like comfortably baggy jeans and an old t-shirt for almost all outdoor activities. In fact, I like them for indoor activities, like my job, but that's another story. Golfers expect everyone to show up in slacks or shorts with creases in them and the obligatory golf shirt with the little critter on the pocket. I can't cope with that. After spending a day crawling over, under, and around timber and large rocks in the woods, attire like that just can't hold up.

The Sportsmanship
One thing about professional golfers is that they appear to be scrupulously honest, to the point of calling penalty strokes on themselves, even when no one saw them do anything wrong. If all golfers played that way, the category of “duffer” would be seriously expanded. Unfortunately, most golfers, shall we say, “bend the rules.” Oh, they never call it that. They have terms for their shady doings. Taking a shot over is called a “mulligan.” Improving your lie is “playing winter rules.” In July. The rest of us have a term for these sorts of things. Cheating.

The Good Golfers
Good golfers need their own courses. When klutzes like me are hitting their sixth stroke at the base of the green, it is depressing to hear some dolt scream “FORE!” at the top of his lungs while attempting to bean me with his Titleist on his second shot. Fortunately, one of the advantages of being in the woods is that the good golfers don't hit there very often.

In fact, it was a good golfer that started me down the path to retiring from the game. I was in a Captain's Choice company tournament. Captain's Choice is wonderful for bad golfers, because everyone on the team hits from the tee. Then the best shot is chosen, and everyone hits from that spot. Since every team has one good and one fairly good golfer, it's likely my only trip into the woods will be to pick up my ball. And my rare good shot won't be spoiled by my awful following shot, because one of the others on the team will most likely make up for it.

In Captain's Choice, I actually get to putt for birdies now and then.

In this particular tournament, my team was doing rather well, playing at 3 under par coming to the eighteenth hole. As we came to the last hole, the unbelievable occurred as all three of us shanked our shots toward a creek on the right. Two of the balls had disappeared, but one was sitting up on a rock in the shallow stream, so we decided to play that one. Our fairly good player stepped down into the creek, which was about three feet below the level of the fairway. He swung and ducked as the ball hit the bank and came back at him. I stepped into the creek to take my shot, and a miracle happened.

I hit the ball about 100 yards down the fairway in perfect position to shoot for the green. Our good golfer offered effusive praise, then stepped in and took his shot. He smacked the ball 200 yards to the base of the green. It made no difference that he told me that my shot made it possible for him to take a chance at hitting long. He had just made the best shot of my life look like hamburger.

When God sends you a message like that, you need to listen.

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