Golf-Toons #44 - Centaur of the Fairway

Golf courses are typically designed to reward drives that find the center of the fairway. Ideally it affords the golfer with the optimum location from which to attack the green with their approach shot. Exclamations of “right down the pipe” or “split the fairway” are common refrains after “finding the middle.”

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In Greek mythology the Centaur was often depicted as a wild and lustful creature but there was an exception. Chiron was the handsome son of the god Cronus and a nymph. Unlike his wild Centaurian brethren he was faithfully married to a beautiful nymph and had 3 loving daughters. He was known for his wisdom, medical knowledge, sage advice and most notably his calm demeanor. Achilles, Ajax, Jason and Hercules sought his counsel during difficult times in their lives. He became a god when he gave his life to save Prometheus.

So the next time you stand over a tee shot faced with a tight fairway think of Chiron, who abandoned his wild ways and chose the strength of a calm demeanor and hit it “dead Centaur”!

Golf-Toons #43 Hogan's Ghost

There are times golf reminds me of a religion.

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Like most faiths, the golfer’s sabbath is usually a weekend event and the more devout congregate multiple times a week. The clubhouse is the church and the head pro the pastor. Even a trip to the sacred grounds of Augusta or St. Andrews could be likened to a pilgrimage to the origins of the golfing religion.

Our prophets are names like Tom Morris and Donald Ross. Our sainted include Bobby Jones, Seve Ballesteros, Payne Stewart and Arnold Palmer. The sport of golf is also vitally involved in charity, raising money to help fight disease and poverty.

But since our goal here is to make us laugh at some of the difficulties and absurdities of the game I leave you with an old joke.

A golfer comes home after a round dejected and tired. His wife says, “What’s the matter honey?”

“Oh we had a terrible thing happen on the course. Joe dropped dead from a heart attack in the middle of the round,” the husband says mournfully.

“That’s awful. What did you guys do?,” asked the wife.

“Swing. Drag Joe. Swing. Drag Joe. By the end of the round we we’re exhausted.”

Golf-Toons #42 Short All Day

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One of the most maddening things in golf is coming up just short on a putt. Especially when your ball is tracking on a perfect line towards the hole but your own timidity denies you the ecstasy of holing the putt.

It seems that “coming up short” is a 24 hour bug that lasts about one full round of golf and is cured by consuming mass quantities of adult beverages post-golf followed by a fitful stupor of sleep. A full on black-out is the ideal remedy as it decays your memory and allows you to reset mentally for the next round.

As usual, the game of golf affords us life lessons, like taking stock of how blessed we are to just be playing the game.

I learned that particular lesson well when playing with my friend Craig, an elementary public school teacher who despite minor vertical challenges, stands taller than he appears. He became weary of my incessant complaints about coming up short all day and delivered the gem that inspired this toon. Leave it to a teacher to soothe the whining child with some thoughtful and comparative insight.

Thanks Craig!

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 #40 - Tiny Greens

What is worse, tiny greens or intimidatingly long holes?

Both pose their own issues but for me tiny greens can be maddening. And I have deeper thoughts about postage stamp greens, but I will save that for another Golf-Toon.

Today’s question is, “Do putting greens shrink over the years?”

At our local muni I’ve noticed the greens seem to have shrunk over the years. The aprons get a little bigger and creep closer and closer to the pin. My guess is this is a maintenance issue, though it could also be an economic challenge.

Keeping a public course open that offers reasonable green fees for the average Joe golfer is something I hold near and dear to my wallet. Not all of us can afford to plop down a couple Ben Franklins for round of golf.

And a lot of courses, public, private, and my favorite designation, the “Semi Private” all face economic pressures. A lot of green goes into those greens. So maybe by making them a little smaller they can keep their doors open.

Am I overthinking this?

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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 #35 - Cradle of Golf

Challenge the origins of golf and you are treading on sacred Scottish turf.

At the website scottishgolfhistory.org the site states it plainly in this soliloquy: “Being the proof as to why golf is definitely, certainly, unquestionably, without doubt, beyond question, indubitably, undeniably, irrefutably, incontrovertibly, incontestably, unmistakably, categorically, decidedly, unequivocally Scottish. Really.”

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Darn. They take this subject more seriously than the taste profile of a dram of single malt.

So I offer this side note to the illustration, the golf club was indubitably, undeniably, irrefutably, incontrovertibly, incontestably, unmistakably, categorically, decidedly, unequivocally planted by an English archaeologist.

I still expect to get a nasty email from Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

Golf-Toons #34 - Voices

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The eternal war for our golfing soul can take on schizophrenic proportions. The battle pitting the forces of conceit versus humble acceptance of our shortcomings.

With our confidence at stake, we try to calm ourself with soothing pre-shot routines.

We try to silence our mind of the endless suggestions and tips that populate our grey matter.

It’s not easy to do, especially when you’re in the midst of a bad round. But next time you hear those voices trying to encourage or erode your game just tell them to shut up and have fun.

Or tell them to talk amongst themselves and you’ll join the conversation next time you’re at the range. Just don’t let anyway see you talking out loud to them.

Golf-Toons #33 - Clowns on the course

At last summer’s US Open Bryson DeChambeau yelled out in frustration, ”This is clown golf!”

“Gee,” I thought to myself, ”that sounds like a lot of fun.”

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Wearing size 28 golf shoes, gargantuan club heads, and riding around in one of those tiny clown carts would be a blast. Especially if you teed it up at one of those persnickety country clubs. Imagine the sneering! It would probably be so glaring you’d have to wearing giant, cartoonish sunglasses.

But in the staid world of golf I’m guessing the closest we can come to clown golf is wearing some John Daly pants.

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 #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.