The edgy thrill of televised golf - The Explorer: Editorials

The edgy thrill of televised golf

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Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

After retirement, weekends aren't often a big deal and I spend many of them channel surfing. Recently I settled for an edgy, thrilling program that was comparably stimulating to Olympic curling, world dart championships, and beginner's archery — golf.

Here's a surprise: I played golf long ago, when my body and mind were more flexible.

I abandoned it after acknowledging some convincing factors relentlessly cited by buddies, innocent bystanders, and several course pros: 1) after a couple of hours it can become boring, 2) replacing bent clubs is expensive and embarrassing, 3) perfecting acceptable excuses for hammering fairway homes with golf balls is problematical, 4) declaring most putts as "gimmes," 5) vocabulary degradation involving four-letter expletives, 6) asking my golf bag for advice, 7) wearing a golf glove made me feel like a one-handed mime, 8) neon white ankles looked goofy, and 10) my game sucked, apart from my exceptional yardage on chip shots and putts.

I was a dangerous golfer, because everything became an unintentional target including nearby homes, windshields of parked cars, golfers in other fairways, trees, and animals outside the playable areas. Losing numerous balls every round forced my self-esteem aside; using balls with green or red circles painted around them became cost-effective.

I knew my golfing days were in jeopardy when a friend showed up one Saturday morning wearing a batting helmet on the first tee. He should have worn a full set of catcher's protective gear, because we pelted him all day with intentional golf shots. What I never understood was why my driving range and miniature golf performance was good, but my actual golf game stunk.

I took lessons, but those proved ineffective. I overcame everything I learned by diligently reverting to bad habits by the second hole. Being a diehard baseball player hindered my swing, as my golf grip replicated the one I used on a baseball bat. In hindsight, using a baseball bat rather than golf clubs might have lowered my score. I bagged my putter for a while and used a pool cue. Aside from verbal abuse from my buddies, the putts began dropping and my pocket filled with quarters.

Consider the simplicity of swapping a few hundred pesky tees and those unwieldy clubs with one baseball bat and a sawed-off pool cue. You could unload the real golf stuff to a resale sporting goods store and simply wear a colorful, lightweight nylon backpack loaded with balls and chilled beer.

Surprisingly, safety was a concern of mine while on the golf course. More accurately, it was a serious concern for my friends. They discovered their best position was crouched behind solid objects such as a trees, cows or golf carts. Birds were even in jeopardy if they cruised at less than optimum altitude. I never did figure out how to retrieve that club I launched into a squirrel's nest near the top of a stately elm tree. Standing behind me guaranteed an occasional flying golf club or ball ricochet. I never understood why tee boxes weren't made of bounce proof material? I sometimes got better yardage behind me than down the fairway. Tee boxes should be safety material — Nerf.

Golf is frustrating enough with numerous water hazards, sand traps and a four-inch cup implanted at the most inconvenient place on the green, so why have sculpted golf tees. Mine were always broken or had partial tops. Unbreakable titanium would be ideal. These should be interchangeable with oversized balls. If you're playing a 400-plus yard hole, why not use a bigger ball? Forget a hole in one; being able to clearly see the ball soaring toward the rough, burning skid marks on the ground, or crashing through a plate glass window would be helpful because you'd get a head start for your car.

Regarding attire, you can make a personal clothing statement through proper selections. Unfortunately, golf clothes are only inexpensive during the annual pro shop sale. But paste white golf shoes and multi-colored hound's-tooth patterned pants is an irrational combination. Scottish knickers and knee socks are OK in Scotland.

Inarguably, golf replicates other televised sporting events. From my favorite recliner, it's easy to play, and most of the players could benefit from my invaluable suggestions. To date, no queries, so I'll continue explaining the subtleties of the game to my wife. Her facial expression confirms her value for my perpetual, dead-on accurate dialogue during sporting events. Sometimes she finds my commentational insight so relaxing that it puts her to sleep.

I love weekends …

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