Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Most Embarrassing Shot

Around 10 years ago my boss invited me to play a round of golf with him and his boss, the CEO of our company. At the time I was just picking up the game and playing with my antique Wilson’s. In my naiveté, I accepted his gracious invitation. So one beautiful Saturday morning I found myself trucking through the Connecticut countryside looking for some country club, the name of which I have long since forgotten.

I arrive at the country club a few minutes before our tee time and rush to the first tee. My boss and the CEO were standing there with a slight sheen of sweat from the bucket they’d hit at the driving range, sipping a Samuel Adams. Hitting a bucket before you play, I thought. Now that’s a good idea.

Catching my breath, I had the chance to look around and quickly realized this wasn’t your average public links course. Behind me loomed the large turn-of-the-century mansion turned pro shop, like a watchful sentry guarding the peaceful countryside. The golf course spread before me like some green magic carpet bordered by oak trees sporting the beginning buds of an early New England spring.

Since it was early spring, and such a beautiful day, the course was crowded with dames and dandies like this Arizona bumpkin had never seen. I swear to God, it was like a movie. I heard the old Sesame Street song running through my head: “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…” and I realized the one thing I was thinking about was me.

We were the next group to play, so we stepped up to the tee box waiting for the foursome in front of us to hit off the fairway before teeing off. The CEO gave me the honors. I placed a tee in the ground and whipped my club around in some awkward effort to warm up. I noticed that the practice green was to my left and too close to the first tee; the foursome playing behind us were standing together in casual chat, glancing at me. All in all, including the starter, who was friend of the CEO’s, I’d guess there were 10 or 12 people watching me as I addressed the ball.

Well, I took a breath and did it! I swung with all my might. And I hit that damn little ball hard. Real hard. The only problem was that I topped it bad. Real bad. The ball rolled with some vicious velocity at about a 20 degree angle to my right. We were playing the white tees and the ball rolled fast and hard, right toward the red tee maker some 20 yards in front of me. As if in slow motion I saw the ball hit the red tee maker with a loud thunk, shoot up in the air in a beautiful arch backwards, heading right for me. I was frozen, I couldn’t move. The ball floated, floated, floated, and then landed thunk, right in front of me, damn near on the tee it had previously been sitting on. I mean, I didn’t have to move to take my second shot. And then, like a razor cutting through the soft skin of an apple, laughter cut through the soft spring morning. Laughter echoing off of sentry pro shop, rolling through the budding oaks, traveling down the country lanes, fading only when in reached my Arizona home town itself.

Everyone on the practice green stopped motionless to view the source of such merriment; patrons stuck their heads out of the pro shop window; my boss and the CEO were literally on the ground, holding their sides in painful joy of my painful embarrassment. And all I can say is, “It’s amazing I still play this game.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Beat by a One Armed Golfer

Why do I pay these high California rents if it's going to rain for an entire month? Because after the rain the sun comes out and it is beautiful outside. So this weekend I found myself in the middle of January golfing in 70 degree weather. Ahhhh….

I wanted to get home in time to see the football playoffs, so I decided to go to an overpriced but very nice nine hole course in Scotts Valley, CA. I got paired up with a threesome and I have to say I'm always leery when I get paired up with guys that are drinking beer on first green at eight o'clock in the morning. But there I was…

I started out pretty good. I had the best tee shot of the group on the par four first and was left with a nice little chip to the green. I muffed it and then proceeded to three putt to start with a double bogey.

On the way to the second tee one of the guys showed me his finger. Seems about three weeks ago he closed it in a garage door. The nail was black and the finger looked like hamburger. He was golfing with one hand. And it was pissing me off because he kept beating me.

I mean, I didn't golf too badly. I ended up with 5 bogeys and 4 double bogeys. But hole after hole, if I bogied, the one-armed golfer pared, if I doubled, he bogied. Over, and over, it never failed. Geez, I got my butt kicked by a one armed golfer. How sad is that. On the plus side, I don't have to worry about renaming my blog.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You're a Lightweight and So Am I

So, you think you’ve played in some pretty extreme conditions, huh? I know I do. The worst conditions I’ve played in were just a few months ago. The golf course, DeLaveaga, is under construction. Because of this, they told me I could play all day for ten bucks. And because it was raining, I thought I'd play 9, but I couldn't stop. Then after 18, I just had to play another 9. After 27 holes my shoes and pants were caked with mud, my windbreaker was soaked through, but I was in the zone - pounding the ball like never before, and I had the course to myself, so I kept going for another 9, playing a total of 36 holes.

But I’m a light weight.

And so are you.

Unless of course you’ve played in The World Ice Golf Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland.

Which I haven't.

It seems there’s this hotel owner by the name of Arne Neimann in ol’ umm…, umm…, Uummannaq, who thought it might be a good idea to build a golf course among the giant icebergs of Greenland and then, well, why not, hold a tournament. And, as they say, “If you build it, they will come.” And come they have. From all over the world brave golfers ascend to Uummannaq to play in a 36 hole tournament over 2 days some 300 miles north of the polar circle.

The course is a little shorter than most, the holes a little wider, the balls are bright orange, and the greens are not greens at all, but, well, “whites”. Now if you ask me, that's golf to the extreme.

The next World Ice Golf Championship is in March, 2005. Go for it! Maybe some day I will.

If you're interested in more info, check it out by clicking here.


Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm as good as Vijay

I can’t believe it. I’m as good as Vijay. At least for one hole. This weekend at the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, Singh was in the lead during the final round. He had completed a string of 57 consecutive holes at par or better when he bogied the par four fourth. Of course that doesn’t make me as good as Vijay. But then came the 13th hole. They call it The Low Road, and Vijay certainly took the low road in playing the hole. It’s a 407 yard par four and Vijay did something unfamiliar to him, but something I am more than used to. He pulled his tee shot into the two-foot high grass and lost his ball. Welcome to my world, Vijay. Singh went on to score a triple bogey 7 on the hole.

If I played this hole from the professional tees I’d be lucky to shoot a 7. But I could do it. I contend that if I played that hole 10 times, at least 50% of the time I’d shoot a 7 or better. This is what I love about golf. I suck, but on one hole, I’m at least as good as the best player in the world 50% of the time. There is no other sport and I can attempt to duplicate what a professional has done, and do it as good as they did even once. But in golf I can. If you think I’m full of BS, you can offer to fly me to Maui and I’d be happy to play that hole 10 times to prove my point.


Friday, January 07, 2005

The All American Golf Experience - NOT!

So my wife (bless her heart) signed me up as a member of the USGA through a subscription we had to Golf Magazine. I was pondering my game (or lack thereof) and once again returned to the idea that better clubs would mean lower scores. When wouldn’t you know it, USGA had apparently sold my contact information to a flim-flam organization presenting itself as “All American Golf Experience”.

They told me they were “testing” clubs and as a member of USGA, I was eligible to become one of their field testers. They would send me a set of clubs which I could use for 90 days. For my part, I agreed to play at least once a week with the clubs and at the end of 90 days I would ship the clubs back in the pre-paid package. I also agreed to spend 1 hour with their golf club technicians answering questions about my experience with the clubs. “Great!” I said, “Sign me up.”

So I spent about an hour on the phone with them as they took down some measurements (my height, weight, how many inches from the tips of my fingers to the floor, etc), discussed my golf game, and got my address. Finally, when I thought we were done, they asked for my credit card information. “Why?” I asked.

“This is just to insure that we get the clubs back. We bill your credit card for $990.00 dollars and then, at the end of 90 days, you can choose to keep the clubs or send them back for a full refund." And being the stupid bad golfer that I am, I gave them my credit card number.

About a week later the clubs arrive. Now, I’m such a bad golfer I couldn’t really tell if they were any good. But I did notice all the nice labels imbedded in the club heads fell off. An All American Golf Experience representative called me a few days later and asked me if I received the clubs. They also informed me that for every person I recommended to them who also “tested” the clubs, I would receive 10% off the price. If I got 10 people to “test” them, I would get the clubs for free. So much for the perks of being a USGA member.

To make a long story short, at the end of 90 I called them for my 1 hour conversation. It turns out that conversation was not with their golf club technicians but was really a 1 hour talk with their high-pressure sales department. In the meantime, I’d been reading a number of posts in news groups about people who fell for this scam, returned the clubs, and never got their credit cards refunded. I figured I didn't want to send the clubs back and end up empty handed, so I negotiated a price of $250.00 for the clubs. The agreement was that I would keep the clubs and they’d refund my credit card $740.00. It took about 9 months and 20 phone calls, but they finally did process my refund.

I still have those clubs and I still use them. I’m still so bad I don’t know if they’re any good, but on the bright side, no one laughs at me when I’m at the driving range (see previous post).


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Welcome to Bad Golfer

No doubt about it, as a golfer, I suck. I often feel cursed that the Gods would infuse me with an un-quenching love for a game that I’m so good at being so bad at. I’m 44 years old and as a kid I was fairly athletic. In high school I lettered in football and track. I’m also a pretty good juggler, so I have hand-eye coordination. Why then, I ask, can’t I get a handle on this silly game?!?!

I started golfing about 10 years ago when my boss invited me to go to the driving range. I picked up a set of Wilson clubs at a yard sale and began playing about once a week for the next year. Ignoring the advice of old-timers to take lessons before I “learned” any bad habits, I was intent on teaching myself the game. After that year I was still shooting in the 120s, or, let’s say, to high to count. On the plus side I succeeded in learning some bad habits.

After that I didn’t play for a number of years. About three years ago I picked up the game again. Pulling the old yard sale clubs out of storage I went to the driving range and started wacking away. Some hacker started laughing at me so I asked him, “What’s so funny?”

“Your clubs,” he answered. “They should be in a museum.”

“Ah ha,” I thought. “That’s my problem. I need new clubs.”

So I promptly went to Costco and bought a brand new set of Golden Bear clubs; found a little par three nine-hole course near my house which is great for a beginner; and learned that the clubs were definitely not my problem. Eventually I talked my wife into playing and bought her a set of Golden Bear also. So, every weekend we set about doing our chores and always ended up at the par three course. Last year we took lessons and I got better! My wife got pregnant and stopped playing, which was fine with me because now I can go out to real eighteen hole courses and play. Of course, playing alone means I get hooked up with others. And I suck, so that’s often funny.

I signed up for another 6 lessons and have only taken one. Since then I still haven’t broken 100 but I’m close (not including mulligans). So maybe I’m not sucking so badly.

In this blog I hope to chronicle the trials and tribulations of a bad golfer trying to get better. Check back. Future posts will include:

  • How I got ripped off buying my next set of clubs.
  • Playing alone and getting hooked up with golfers who don’t suck.
  • My most embarrassing shot ever (it’s a doozy).
  • And future experiences I have at the course, range, or taking lessons.

Also, feel free to post yourself. However, any SPAM postings will be deleted.