Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If I’m Golfing, I’m Not Grousing

Not the bang-bang-damn! kind of grousing.
There’s two kinds of golf bitching that just drive me nuts. In one form, Golf Guy buttonholes you when you’re mowing the lawn or enjoying a fish fry at the local pub with your spouse; that is, unbeckoned. GG gushes to you about his recent score - even though the actual tally is not what he wants you to hear, anyway - but finishes with “...and that was with two double bogeys and a triple bogey on 17.” The narrative does not include that, had he missed the hole with his ham-fisted 40’ birdie putt on 3, his ball would have rolled into the lake. Similar beneficent Acts of God in his round are also conveniently elided.
My b-i-l Roy B. is not just a good stick, but he “gets it” as well. If I were to ask him how he’s done lately, he might reply with something like “I had an 83 at Panther Pass the other day, and a 79 playing with Howie last Sunday at Meadow Brook.” Well played, Roy - three times.
The other form flows from the hacker you’re sharing a cart with whose command of golf cliches vastly exceeds his command of his swing. He’ll pull one into the swamp guarding the left side of a landing area and then announce, dramatically, to anyone and no one, “Don’t come over the top, Stupid!” Upon regaining his seat in the cart, he’ll confide that he’s been working on his inside-out move with the Medicus, and he can’t understand how he possibly could make that last mistake. Why only last week...
He changes the golf buzz words and repeats as needed for 18 long holes. Where’s the beer girl?
Whenever some poor soul asks me to help him get started in golf, I offer him my humble Beginning Golfer's Golden Rule:

Always behave at the course so that a veteran golfmate never has to ask why the worst golfer in the group is spoiling his day.

This rule can be fleshed out quite well with only 3 commandments:
  • Do not say anything unless spoken to. If you must say something, complement a better player’s shot after his ball stops rolling.
  • When it is your turn to hit, execute only a brief waggle and then make your swing. After watching the ball stop rolling, bag your club, go directly to wherever your ball landed and, when it’s your turn, do it all over again.
  • Buy the first round of drinks at the 19th hole.
I guarantee that following this advice will earn even a chop a second invitation from his group. Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus would gladly have you back if only you follow these 3 commandments. For some reason, it's harder to follow them than it might seem.
Now that I think about it, swap a few words or concepts - when a partridge takes off..., or speak only well of your partner’s dog... - and the same rules would get the new hunter off on the right foot, too.