To Tee or Not to Tee
(Or: Close Isn’t Good Enough)
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
If you are new to the game … or considering taking it up … follow the bouncing ball. Golf is such an all-the-rage yet controversial pastime the best we can do here is summarize and categorize information, quote the experts, and allow the ball to drop where it may. Just remember before you proceed into this world, standing on a golf course doesn’t make you a golfer any more than standing in a garage makes you a hotrod.
Also remember, it is a game for perfectionists. You must get the ball into the hole, not once, but 18 times. Close isn’t good enough. Consequently, it becomes the source of aggravation and the dusty accumulation of bent drivers and putters.
There are so many off-the-wall rules, antidotes, quotes, personal tales, techniques, training hints and philosophies, the only useful revelations may possibly come by stuffing them all into a ball washer and letting it spit them willy-nilly onto the green.
Some of the basic rules for domestic safety are: Never go golfing with your wife; never go golfing with your husband; because here we see the nubbin of an endless debate. But one realistic rule followed by most experienced golfers is: Never go golfing with your goldfish unless you take your SCUBA gear or you train it to retrieve your balls from the #%$&*^ pond. This reveals a sparkle of sanity in an insane distraction. As one unknown duffer (hacker) said, “I've spent most of my life golfing... the rest I've just wasted.” This goes a long way in describing the commitment and madness of some to a hobby of following a small, white ball around the world … no matter where it lies.
Now let’s put golf in perspective and separate it from other activities. The most elegant and successful pursuer of this insanity, Tiger Woods, has broken it down a bit for us. "Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps." And the bowler Don Carter, “One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.” He has a firm finger-hole grip on the game.
Honesty has a dubious existence in golf. We’ve all heard of, thought about, seen it, and maybe done it, kicked a ball from behind a tree or pile of cow dung to get an unimpeded shot at the flag. Arnold Palmer (of Arnie’s Army) one of the greatest hackers of all time exposed why he and others are so successful. He is a great teacher of the tricks of the trade, “I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone's golf game: it's called an eraser.” Many aficionados support this revelation that Golf is a lot of walking, broken up by disappointment and bad arithmetic … and maybe a good eraser or creative caddy helps. “Isn't it fun to go out on the course and lie in the sun?” jibed Bob Hope.
The best advice before the first golf lesson: learn how to stand and to move like a pretzel. “Have you ever noticed what golf spells backwards?’ asks Al Boliska, but do you know it also stands for God’s Ol’ Lunatic Fun. “ The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course,” observes Billy Graham.
Exercise, fun, socializing and entertainment are the overriding goals of golf … with restrictions. “If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt,” says the well know expert, Dean Martin. “I play in the low 80s. If it's any hotter than that, I won't play,” admitted Joe E. Lewis. Then there’s the exercise. “Golf is golf. You hit the ball, you go find it. Then you hit it again,” long time professional duffer, Lon Hinkle, simplifies the absurdity.
A golfer's diet besides eating crow and chewing on knuckles after a bad slice or hook; live on greens as much as possible.
There you have it. There are so many expert quotes and dehumanizing rules and reasons NOT to take up the sport of golf, that you may be disheartened, but don’t be. There are also many more reasons to fulfill this dream, such as …