Golf-Toons #41 - Astronomical Golf Course Design

The next ‘Space Race’ is well underway with SpaceX and Blue Origin taking on passengers very soon. With multitudes of space tourists venturing out of this world is it unreasonable to think that galactic golf would be soon to follow?

Given the physics of lunar gravity it would require either the longest golf courses in history or the heaviest of golf balls to deal with the challenges of the moon’s environment.

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Much like Sheep Ranch links in Oregon, the design would have to take advantage of the natural elements of the lunar landscape. Instead of shots having to carry water, shots would have to carry craters. Or maybe you turn the craters into the largest bunkers in the universe?

Manufacturers probably have secret lunar golf equipment programs as we speak and real estate developers are ready to unveil golf destinations like Apollo Landings, Lunar Links, or Crescent Moon Country Club.

But the biggest question is will we someday find astronaut Alan Shepard’s Titleist golf ball?

Golf-Toons #39 - Depants

Creepy behavior has been a hot topic in the media lately.

Political campaign trails, newsrooms, and Hollywood have all been abuzz with accounts of inappropriate behavior. It’s a public conversation that is long overdue and hopefully we can get it all sorted out before someone proposes a strip Nassau bet to me.

There’s no way my Bermuda short are going south of my equator. There’s simply no a-Biden this. And do not even tell me about the Hollywood version of a Skins game.

The riskiest I get is forgetting to tuck my shirt in.

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Golf-Toons #37 - Mid Life Golf Crisis

Buy a sports car? Take up pickle ball? Have an affair?

Na. You can’t fit the clubs in the sports car.

Heck na. Pickle ball is a fraud. There are no pickles involved at all!

Affairs, contrary to what Hollywood sells us, are like pulling the pin on a grenade to get rid of a bad rash.

Golf is a rarity in sporting pursuits. It is one of the few participant sports that a person can play throughout their life. Your game actually matures, evolves, and changes as you age.

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I know and play with golfers with artificial knees and amputated limbs. You play in spite of diminishing distance off the tee and shift to a 7, then a 6 iron from 150 when you used to hit an 8 iron.

But you forge on and find new ways to play and enjoy the game. You deal with age much as you deal with aging in life. You accept the cards that life deals you and play on!

That’s not to say that we can’ t try to fight back against the ravages of time. We buy better clubs, softer balls, and sharpen the skills that can help us stave off the inevitable.

And a bit of self deceit isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the older I get the better I used to play.

Golf-Toons #36 - Equipment Confidential

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If our clubs and balls could talk, what would they say? I bet they could bend your ear with golf yarns that would make you wince. Imagine a conversation going like this:

“…and he blames me for chili dipping a chip and threw me in a pond.”

“Well if you think that’s bad, my owner bent me over his knee and played the last six holes with my shaft curved like a banana. Serves him right that he lost $80 three putting the last 4 holes.”

“At least I got some revenge.” says the 9 iron, “Two nights ago he comes sneaking home at 3 o’clock in the morning, the wife grabbed me out of the bag and creases his skull. I gotta say I got more than a little satisfaction not being on the receiving end for a change.”

“Sweet. Dude! Your my hero!”

Golf-Toons #32 - Novelty Club Head Covers

Sports Therapist are all the rage on the PGA Tour these days, but what do you do if you’re just a weekend hack? What if you can’t afford the expense for a mind probe? Or you just don’t want an entourage.

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Therapists often use dolls or hand puppets for various role playing exercises. This seemed a little strange at first…I mean SEEMS…

Anyway, in many golf bags I see the perfect tool for just such a moment.

And who cares, as long as it lands in the short grass!

Golf-Toons #31 - Yoga Pants

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Is their nothing that golfers won’t try to add a few yards to their drives?

It seems every morning when I check my inbox there a several emails that promise me more length and most of them are golf-related. The subject lines tantalize you with added distance, increased swing speed, and higher launches. They can be cutting-edge technologies, revolutionary design innovations, newly discovered carbon fibre formulas, or never-before told secret insights that will take your drives to the next level.

The other realm of assistance are the home-spun variety that you encounter on the course. These are the one I fall prey to. They can range from the plausible to the absurd. Like the guy who handed me a blue cloth bag and said “Crown Royal cured my slice.” Honestly, it didn’t work for me but if not for the side effects I swear it improved my putting.

Lately I have run into several golfers who claim major benefits from yoga. But I’m a “quick-fix” kind of guy so just give me the pants and let’s see what happens.

Golf-Toons #30 - From your Knees

Golfers call penalties on themselves. An interesting byproduct of this aspect of the game, is that often we have to interpret the rules as situations present themselves. Complications can arise when rules are misinterpreted. A friend of mine thought an unplayable lie was anything in a sand trap.

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Rule 14.3 states when taking relief, the ball must be dropped from knee height. There’s a lot more stuff in rule 14.3 but this knee height thing could be misinterpreted especially by the thick-headed that golf amongst us.

There are no rules officials during a typical Saturday morning match at the local Muni. No Slugger Whites. So be patient and be specific when explaining the new rules to the misinformed.

And so the game continues to give back, often in the form of fodder for the 19th hole.

 

Golf-Toons #29 - In or Out?

It’s but the early days of 2019 and already the new changes to the rules of golf are creating a buzz. The noisiest reaction being the “Leave It In vs. Take It Out” argument. This new rule allows players to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting. It makes sense and should speed play in most instances.

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It seems there are two camps forming. One camp believes leaving the pin in all the time is the best way to go. Called the “In Crowd” they believe the pin helps with alignment and judging distance. And the ball has a better chance of going in, especially on the downhill putts. The physics and field studies seem to be on their side. I saw proof in a YouTube video so it must be true.

The other camp, the “Old Schoolers,” may ignore the option or just bad at remembering new rules. Heck, Phil doesn’t know them yet so cool your jets “In Crowd,” Phil Mickelson is eating lunch at our table. They also feel the pin can be a distraction on shorter putts.

Has it actually sped up play? Probably, but I played a round of golf with both an “In Crowd” and “Old Schooler.” In and out, in and out, in and out, and on to the second hole.

What do you think, in or out?
Are you a member of the “In Crowd” or “Old School” ?

Next week we talk about the 2019 edition of the drop ball for relief rule and the push-back from short golfers.

Golf-Toons #27 - Gender Bender

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Golfers are always looking for an advantage.  And in the shadow of the new rules of 2019, that could be a better drop, a pin left in the hole or some other creative interpretation of these recent decrees. In addition to the mental warfare between shots where dominance can shift.     

You can always find someone stretching or misinterpreting the rules to their favor.  That is part of the game of golf, especially as the combatants, we serve as judge and jury.  Golfers call penalties on themselves, a unique and glorious aspect of golf.   

 Golf is a test of your character.  The ball is stationary, and action begins only when you decide it is time for the swing to start.   

What is personally out of bounds for you?

How far will you go for an advantage? 

Golf-Toons #26 - Interview With a Vampire Golfer

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Imagine playing golf for a few centuries and what it must be like for someone as old as Dracula. From course design, advances in equipment to innumerable rules modifications, he has been through a lot of change.

Although he complains endlessly about finding courses honoring midnight tee times, he does appreciate the improvements in ball technology. “I find the low spin ball has elevated my game dramatically, “ says the Count.

He hasn’t lost much distance due to aging, and improvements in equipment have added at least 75 yards to his drives. Impressive at the age 542. He does confess that it took him 61 years to putt decently.

Since the Count plays during “off hours” he almost never has to suffer playing behind a slow foursome. The last time he got caught behind a dallying group, the entire foursome mysteriously vanished somewhere between the 5th green and the 6th tee box at the Transylvania Golf and Country Club (the Hades course.)

His favorite golf gambling game is a version of skins he calls “First Blood.” The one variation being that when a tie occurs (also known as “no blood”) you can contest the tie in a “longest off the tee” on the next hole. If the next hole is a par three, closest to the pin is used and is referred to as a “bloody hell.”

Dracula also thinks some of the new rule changes for 2019 are long overdue. “Back in the day, we used to leave the flag in the hole all the time. Especially when you’re playing in twosomes, it just makes sense and speeds up play. Last thing I want to risk is getting to the 18th hole as the sun rises.”

Golf-Toons #25 - Anything Smaller?

We have all played with him.  The guy with his shadow in your line, or with the practice swing you can see out of the corner of your eye.  Not to mention the jingling pocket change.  They usually set the flag down a little too close to the hole. 

 Moving a ball mark may be the easiest distraction to avoid. The rules of golf offer refuge, allowing the mark to be moved such that your putt line will not be affected.  Unless you miss-putt and hit the ball mark anyway. 

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We love the old black-and-white footage when marks were not permitted and you could “stymie” or leave a ball in the way as part of the game.  Mashies or wedges were used to jump over a blocking ball.  The films always show the successful shot.

What about the sculled attempts, or the divots taken near the hole?  We never see that footage, but using ball marks is a much better play.  

Until some joker takes out a manhole cover or Vegas chip he has been somehow carrying all day, and marks it in your line.  Move it, friend 2 to the left!

Golf-Toons #24 - Fore

Where does the term ‘FORE’ come from?  As with many terms in a game as old as golf, a definitive origin is not possible.  Though two contending sources are both plausible and interesting enough to share here. 

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One comes from the time when golf balls were expensive and so, golfers employed forecaddies ahead of the shots to make it easier to locate where the balls landed.  Golfers would cry out “Fore” and give an indication of where the shot was directed. 

Makes sense and probably sped play.

The other origin story comes from the times when cannon practice was held in the same coastal waste areas where golf was played.  Gunners would shout ‘Before Beware’ and then fire their munitions at distant targets.   This practice was adopted by golfers, perhaps at first for a laugh.  As golf became more popular, and hence the ‘links’ more crowded, the warning was found to be useful and shortened to ‘Fore’

 You decide, and be sure to warn those nearby of any errant shots from your group.

Golf-Toons #23 - Difficult versus Impossible

What is the difference between difficult and impossible?

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It really comes down to how you deal with the issue at hand and how you want to approach the dilemma you are facing. In golf terms, what does the shot call for?

Most weekend warriors believe breaking 90 or 80 or 70 is possible. And just this weekend I heard someone on the practice green say, “I believe I can make every putt”. Not any putt, but every putt!

We are ready for anything and nothing is impossible. Nothing.

On the other hand, almost everything we do on a golf course is difficult. Simple chips, 8 inch putts, even fishing a ball out of a shallow pond can have treacherous consequences. Nothing related to golf is easy. Nothing.

Let’s just say it depends on the lie.

 

Golf-Toons #22 - Quiet on the Tee

Hitting a golf ball is a daunting task, especially off the first tee. Actually any tee, regardless if it’s onto a manicured fairway, over a watery hazard or a bottomless crevasse. Golf is hard.

Many vital element are required, the most exaggerated of all could be the importance of calm, stillness and quiet.

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The situation must be right to hit a straight tee shot. No lint on the sweater sleeve, nothing in the field of vision; leaves, twigs, and the like.  Pity the insect interested in a perched golf ball.  And no birds chirping, no nearby mowers within earshot or planes overhead.  Not to mention the other man-made sounds of jingling pocket change or dropped clubs. 

Why is quiet so important, when the noise level is so high inside the heads of most golfers?  What if we teed off next to a tire repair shop or over a marching band?  Could that offer enough of a distraction to allow a free-flowing swing?  We will never know.

As we play on, we all have the prerogative on the tee box to step away, back off the shot and restart our pre-swing routine, using helpful tools however ridiculous they may seem to anybody else. 

 

Golf-Toons #21 - Bird Grip

There are many ways to hold a putter, probably as many grips as there are putters available on the market.  Everyone must feel comfortable over their putt, and find confidence in the tools of their trade. 

 Some putters or some grips can send a different message, especially to opponents or nemesis you may find in your foursome.

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We golfers are a quirky tribe.  Spending four hours with someone with slightly annoying tendencies, can be unbearable at times. 

After 18 holes, an irksome habit can get quite amplified.  Minor tension can grow to mutterings, cursing, sarcasm and outright contempt.  At times, combatants must be separated, and real danger is possible from questionable errant shots.    

 Things can get out a hand on the golf course.  GolfToons likes the idea of everybody getting along, enjoying this great game in Eden-like settings. 

Though if a subtle, hidden message makes you feel more comfortable or confident in making an important putt, then by all means grip as you like.

Golf-Toons #20 - Out of Bounds

Have you ever hit one of those titanic slices that boggle your mind? Make you question your very golf being? I’ve hit more than a few and I’ve also witnessed some doozies.

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I recall one time when a friend sliced a drive that sailed over a row of houses lining the course. Our foursome listened to a series of bone rattling noises that conjured up images of dented hoods, smashed yard ornaments, and ending with a series of ‘clicks’ as the ball bounced down the avenue.

Those are the types of shots you don’t even bother looking for. In fact I will attempt to speed play in hopes of leaving the scene of the crime before an angry home owner, screaming profanities, comes looking for retribution.

However, when someone in your group hits one deep into the woods, etiquette compels you to contribute a cursory look. Maybe you can locate the errant shot, or some other treasures.

But be careful. Sometimes it is better to let lost balls lie. Or you could receive a ‘deliverance’ from your slice you did not expect.

Golf-Toons #19 - Unwanted Compliments

Can a compliment be an act of gamesmanship? Possibly. Allow me to explain.

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The frustration of a birdie putt that comes up short can cloud one’s mind with unspoken expletives, as well as sap the sincerity from well intended compliments.

Conversely, a compliment delivered with a smirk can be unsettling enough to linger to the next tee and beyond.

In the game of golf, etiquette and honor do not require that every miscue need consolatory commentary. Sometimes it’s better to echo your partner’s frustration with a “Are You Kidding Me!” or a short and succinct &%*@. At least you will be more in tune with your partners attitude. 

A little thoughtfulness is the best course and commiserating with your golf buddy is considered a magnanimous gesture. But if you need your opponent to hook it OB on the next tee box, try a smarmy Fantastic effort Bob!” Beware of flying putters.

Golf-Toons #18 - The Shadow Knows

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men! The Shadow Knows!”

Much to my surprise the USGA addresses using a shadow to indicate the line of a putt. Rule 8-2b/1 “On the Putting Green” actually exists and to my amazement is legal, as long as your caddie or playing partner removes their shadow prior to you stroking the putt. 

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This is a bit off my intended topic, which is “Unsolicited Advice on The Golf Course.” I tried to find some pithy quote on the subject but nothing seemed to fit the golfing realm. 

So, I offer my own quote:

“Golf can be frustrating enough without someone offering well intended advice!”

There’s just something about advice when you’re struggling, that just seems to make matters worse. Especially when the advice comes from some guy with a handicap higher than Rihanna’s age (She turns 30 this year.)

I try my best to accept unsolicited advice with grace, never invoking the two stroke penalty, Rule 8-1 “Advice”. Though if the advice works, I’m buying when we get to the clubhouse even if The Shadow knows.

Golf-Toons #17 - Old Trusty

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We all have our ‘Go-To’ clubs.  The ones we hit well, feel confident at address or just seem to get lucky with.  The club we can take a little off, or add a little extra to.  The one that you pull out of the bag, kiss the head and say sweet nothings to like, “Don’t fail me now.” It has survived several seasons of the tidal wave of new product launches that guarantee we will hit it longer, cure our slice and shave strokes off our game. 

At times ‘Old Trusty’ may have even been relegated to a dank corner in our garage when we abandoned it for the latest and greatest. But when the new club that promised we’d never hit a fat shot again doesn’t pan out we bring ‘Old Trusty’ back, give it a good cleaning, and return it to our bag.  Forgetting it’s past failures and reaffirming our belief that our short-comings wasn’t technique but technology.

Many a time I’ve witnessed the depth of faith in ‘Go-To’ clubs particularly when vast expanses of water must be carried or serious coin is on the line. Often ‘Go-To’ clubs get used most when the other clubs have had a bad day. You just yearn to hit a crisp shot and not look like the miserable hack you are. Maybe that’s why you’ll see ‘Old Trusty’ pulled out of the bag even when your range finder or the yardage marker begs you to hit the six iron and you air mail a well struck ball with ‘Old Trusty’ twenty yards over the green.