THE GREAT GAME OF GOLF

I have no pretensions as to my abilities in playing golf.  Although Sacramento is blessed with over 100 golf course within easy driving distance, I don’t play as often as I would like.  But then again, what golfer does?

I play because I wanted to spend more time with my Dad and to learn the game.  See “Things My Father Said” under QUOTABLE QUOTES for his take on the game.  I also remember how excited I was when I called to tell him I had a really nice new set of clubs that should improve my game.  He admonished me, saying, “Jim, those clubs are lousy!  The Greens are terrible, the Fairway is a mess and the weather is the worst.  If you remember that, you’ll always have an excuse for not playing well.”

I don’t need a lot of excuses – I just don’t play well – but what I lack in ability, I make up for in being good company.  I am convivial, I play by the rules, and I play a “Snowman’s Game,” in that I will never take more than eight stokes, unless we are counting strokes.  After that, I pick up and mark an “8” aka, a Snowman.  Yes, I made that up myself and it is extremely clever, thank you.  By playing this way, I will never take up your time or the time of the group behind us.  It also keeps me from ever scoring more than 144.  And trust me, I’ve come close,.

I will venture to say that there are more books written in the United States on golf than any other sport.  Yes, I include football and baseball in that and prove me wrong.  The first – and best – book I bought on learning how to play is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.”  You can find this for less than $1.00 at www.half.com.  What I like about this book is more than Hogan’s clear instructions.  The beautiful drawings by Anthony Ravielli show in amazing and simple detail how to stand, swing, and – most importantly – how to hold the club.  Any artist will tell you that hands are the most difficult body part to draw.  Ravielli does it with amazing clarity.

There are books dedicated to jokes about golf.  I shan’t recite them here, but will share two of my favorite quotes.  The first – not surprisingly – is from Mark Twain, who once said about the rules of golf, “It’s good sportmanship to not pick up lost golf balls .. while they are still rolling.”

The second quote is certainly cribbed from some unsavory source, probably one of my brothers.  It is especially fitting when one makes a particularly bad shot, most poignently when a good shot was easy or would make a significant difference in the outcome of the score.  After such a shot, the golfer must calmly watch his ball as it fades into embarrassment and, without looking at anyone, ask, “Do you know they call this game ‘Golf?”  When told, “no,” the golfer answers, “Because F*** was already taken.”

Meanwhile, brother Ed tells us of the time he played with a fellow who – though normally quite good – was having a terrible game.  He couldn’t hit the fairway to save his life, until he finally clunked one into the lake on a par 3 on the ninth hole.  The fellow walked to the edge of the lake, carrying his complete bag of clubs and, with a mighty heave, threw the entire bag into the water.  He turned and stormed away, pausing after a few steps.  You could see the golfer mentally curse himself as he turned around, stepped into the water and pulled out his bag.  From a small pocket in the bag, he extracted his keys, clenched them tightly and then threw the bag back into the lake.

If you have a favorite golf story, true or not, feel free to share it here.  Send it to jim@mustbeguida.com

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