Teeing off on golf, a good walk spoiled, right- or left-handed
IT was this week, the week of the U.S. Open, when someone asked, "Have you ever played golf?"
Have I ever played golf? Of course I've played golf!
Twice. Once right-handed, once left-handed.
No. Three times. Twice right-handed.
I once made a 65-foot chip-in while facing 45 degrees away from the hole in order to take advantage of my natural right-handed fade. ("Everything will go off to the right ...")
It was always funny when people said I was too hard on Michelle Wie (now people say I'm too nice to Michelle Wie) because I was so jealous that she was a better golfer than me.
Everyone who had ever picked up a stick more than twice (three times) was a better golfer than me.
Last week I wrote about being a committed non-runner. Similarly, I'm a committed non-golfer. First, because intellectually, it seems silly to spend so much time and money on, to put it politely, what Mark Twain called "a good walk spoiled."
But more than that, because I know if I ever did get into it, I would probably become every bit as obsessed with and consumed by the game as the rest of you poor junkie addicts.
I can remember the stories old baseball great Bobby Doerr told about the stress golf would give his friend Ted Williams. In writing the column about their friendship last year I included the tale about the time Ted broke wood-shaft clubs by slamming them down and also when he flung a graphite iron only to see it -- boing! -- bounce back and hit him in the head. But there was more. Much more.
"Another day," Doerr said, "he missed a putt, about a 6-foot putt. And he walked up with a putter and hit that ball and it went right over the clubhouse. He hit it like a driver. I thought, 'Gosh, you could hit somebody.' He said, 'Oh, the hell with it.'
"We had to go from the ninth hole tee over to the 10th tee and nobody got hit with the ball, but there was some commotion."
They had to act casual, like they weren't involved.
Another time, one of Williams' balls ended up in the drink. Again. And again, like Tin Cup. A group playing behind them caught up, but Williams just kept trying to muscle that ball over, he was determined, told the two men and two women to go ahead, *&^$#%, play through. He hit it one more time ...
"The ball dribbled down into the water, he threw that iron up in the air. I think it was a record height for a club to be thrown. And he just stood there," Doerr recalled.
"And he didn't care. I looked around, everybody was scattering, trying to keep from getting hit with the club when it was coming down."
One of the great athletes of the 20th Century, reduced to Judge Smails status. That's what golf can do to a person.
But in my playing experience, I think I have come up with the secret of this sport:
1) Use your off hand; 2) Face away from the hole; 3) Nice smooth swing; 4) Don't play again for at least another five years.