July 6, 2007
The game of golf does not always bring out the best in its participants.
As a devilish device that can make its players explode in anger, however, the game has few equals.
I think it happens because golf is essentially a solitary pursuit. Unlike most games, golfers have only themselves to blame for their mistakes.
In over twenty years of playing the game, I can’t say I’ve heard any particularly new swear words out on the course. However, I have certainly been present at the forceful expression of some of the routine standbys. I’ve been known to let loose with a few pungent remarks myself.
Some of these are favorites, although most can’t be reprinted in a family-friendly newspaper. As a young man screwing up in various and sundry ways at home, I caused my exasperated father to say “Jesus H. Priest!” at several pivotal moments in my development.
It was no great shock, therefore, to hear him make that same declaration while playing golf. On those occasions, however, Dad wasn’t taking off on me, but on himself or a balky swing or bobbled putt.
Sometimes the cursing is accompanied by other forceful demonstrations that all is not right with the golfing world at that moment.
Several years ago, we were playing at The Pit, a very hard golf course near Pinehurst, North Carolina. Dan Maples created this beast out of an old borrow pit, and it really has my number. After several consecutive butchered swings, I slammed my pitching wedge into the soft, wet turf. It buried into the ground about half a foot above the club head.
Several tugs later, I managed to pull the club out of the ground, and repaired the turf as best I could.
I finally started thinking about how blowing your top doesn’t improve your game, or make you a desirable playing companion.
Putters seem to bring out the beast in many players.
I heard one story recently about a golfer who overreacted to a missed putt at the short par-3 13th hole at Shawnee Country Club. The tee shot for this little 113-yard gem goes over a small pond, usually fringed by a group of turtles sunning themselves on the grassy bank.
After missing his putt the angry golfer threw the putter from the green over thirty yards, whirling end over end until it plopped into the pond.
The splash probably startled those turtles, which usually takes some doing.
At that point, the golfer remembered that it wasn’t his putter.
He’d borrowed it from a friend, who had carefully hand-assembled it from one of those do-it-yourself club companies.
The golfer did the right thing, however. He walked into the pond and kept searching until he recovered the errant club.
I heard a similar story recently about another Cape Region golfer at another local club, which shall remain nameless. A blown putt also caused this player to throw his club into a nearby pond.
However, a family member with significant influence in his life just happened to see him make the throw. I understand that she then informed the young man that if he didn’t go back and get that putter out of that pond by himself, it would be the last golf game he played for at least a year.
He did as he was told.
I have also been advised that his sister captured his putter recovery from the pond on videotape, just as you might expect a technically savvy younger sister would do.
If this story is true, that’s a video clip I would love to see.
Golf benefit for another game using a ball and a stick
The Delaware Shore Field Hockey Team helps Cape Region girls improve and maintain their field hockey skills. The Team is holding a golf tournament to raise funds for a trip to the National Field Hockey Festival in Palm Springs, California, a college showcase for these talented players.
The two-person team scramble event takes place July 14 at Shamrock Farms Par 3 Golf Course, on Sawmill Road near Milton, Delaware. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and play begins at 9:00 a.m. The $25 entry fee includes the round and a lunch. For more information, call Shamrock at 684-1808.