FORE!

Spring is in the air in the Midwest.

It’s that special time of the year when we pretend to enjoy yardwork and basketball, and when Cubs fans can still harbor some delusional hope for their inevitably doomed season. More importantly, the changing of seasons means it’s time to dust off the golf clubs after a long winter’s rest.

For many, golf is a fun and gratifying activity filled with challenges and excitement. For some, however, it’s nothing more than an expensive exercise in futility and frustration. Countless beginners abandon the game far too quickly for one simple reason: the game of golf is insanely difficult. A seemingly endless succession of terrible shots with no positive results in sight can quickly drain the fun from the game and drive newbies off the course for good.

Don’t give up: I’m here to help.

While I have absolutely nothing to offer in terms of improving your technical skills, I can definitely help make your round of golf more enjoyable. As a learned expert in fun and a longtime practitioner of bad golf, I have a few tips that will help even the most hopeless hookers and slicers have a good time playing bad golf.

Before you can go out and start flailing away, you have to choose the proper companions for your round. Personally, I prefer to play alone, but I understand that some people have friends with whom they enjoy playing, and I think that’s terrific. A bad group can ruin a perfectly good round of bad golf, and one bad member can ruin the whole group. Here are a few notorious archetypes to avoid when filling out your foursome:

The Tour Pro Poser – Dressed to the nines in the latest golf fashion, and outfitted with a brand new set of state-of-the-art irons, the Tour Pro Poser takes his game very seriously. He knows all the moves. The TPP can often be found hovering over his ball for excruciating periods of time before a shot, carefully contemplating his club selection while meticulously accounting for lie, distance, wind, elevation, barometric pressure, dew point, UV index, the Earth’s rotation, and El Nino. When the TPP fails to achieve the perfection expected of someone so well-dressed and well-equipped, he exhibits his displeasure through high-decibel, expletive-laden self-reprimand, while mashing the head of his $500 driver into the turf.

The Swing Coach – This helpful chap generously doles out unsolicited advice to improve the game of anyone polite enough to listen. He’s read Ben Hogan’s book, and perhaps he’s even taken a lesson himself, making him an unquestionable authority on technique. The Swing Coach knows exactly what you’re doing wrong, and is more than willing to correct your swing at every possible opportunity.

The Rules Official – Did you notice that you just grounded your clubhead in the bunker? The Rules Official did, and he’s about to sternly inform you that such an action is in direct violation of Rule 13-4, and you have just incurred a one-stroke penalty. Armed with a vigilant eye, a comprehensive knowledge of the USGA rulebook, and a firm grip on the scorecard, the Rules Official regards the integrity of the sport above all else, especially fun.

After choosing an appropriate playing group, it’s time to hit the links. Leave the pencil and scorecard at the clubhouse; this isn’t math class. Keeping score will only serve as a numerical quantification of how lousy you really are. Forget the rulebook as well–we definitely won’t need it.

The first tee sets the tone for the entire round, and a bad opening drive can start you down the cart path to destruction. I subscribe to the “hit until you’re happy” school of thought when it comes to the first tee (although the group waiting to tee off behind you might not). This method will not only help you get loose, but it will give you a chance to see which direction your hopelessly errant shots will be spraying for the rest of the day. Plan accordingly.

I’ve established already that golf, as laid out by its creators and governing bodies, is not for everyone. Some folks have to change the game completely to make it palatable. I encourage you to contort the game of golf and its rules in any manner you see fit. Be creative. Hunter S. Thompson liked to play a game called “shotgun golf,” (it’s just what it sounds like). Gamble with your friends, and drive the golf cart like you stole it.

If willful violation of longstanding rules, gambling, and reckless operation of small motor vehicles are still not enough to salvage your round, do what most golfers do: drink until you don’t care. Independent studies have shown that the consumption of cold beer, (by golfers of legal drinking age, in a totally responsible, non-bingey manner), can aid drastically in the disremembering of poor shots, and leave the golfer with a positive impression of his outing.

Bombs away.

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