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 #38 - Golf Service Dog

I recently read a story about Iraq veterans playing golf with their service dogs. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could go golfing with our dogs!

Think about it. You have a nerve-racking putt, and your mutt sits next to you and calms you down as you give them a good rub behind the ears.

Or say you just chunked a chip and your hound comes over and licks your hand! you would forget about it, how bad could it be?

Dogs also love to chase balls. You could train them to hunt for your ball, saving time and speeding play especially on water holes.

Of course it would be best if they just “pointed” or if they did retrieve, they would need a soft mouth to preserve your Pro V1s or my neon Noodles.

I’m sure there are tons of reasons this is a stupid idea, like cleaning my spikes after stepping in something soft. But I know it would be worth the trouble.

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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 #14 - Putting Emotions

On the 18th green at the 2018 Evian Championship, Angela Stanford struck a beautiful putt that curled around the cup. “The best possible putt she could have hit without it going in” said one of the announcers.

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Stanford needed the putt for a share of the lead.  She took two steps away from the hole, went into a crouch and then held her head in her hands for a moment, rebounded to a single hand covering her mouth, then quickly tapped in her par.  Angela Stanford went on to win her first major championship at the age of 40, but she demonstrated some of the contortions we make on the putting green during and after we putt. 

The last group in this tournament had three players with opportunities to tie Stanford and as each one watched their putts fail to find the cup, they exhibited additional variations of “putting emotions” poses.

First, Mo Martin with a putter swing, left leg step-out and back into a knuckle bite.   Then Sei Young Kim with a frozen body, head nod and then a deep exhale.

Finally, Amy Olson with heavy blink, a putter slap and then a glance to the heavens.  Great golf with a dramatic finish. 

We all contribute a little twist or stretch to help our putts.  A little something to slow down or speed up, or some other form of encouragement to get the ball closer to the hole.  Impossible to practice, this is an indication of who the putter really is, and like the lines on your palm or snowflakes, no two are alike.

We will save the Tiger fist-pumps or the 1 legged, ripped-sleeve Payne Stewart rain-pose for another Golf-Toon.  Congratulations Angela!

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Golf-Toons #9 - Got it

Golf is truly a journey in pursuit of excellence. The struggle this pursuit poses drives us to seek remedies from a multitude of sources. We click on emails saying “Add 20 yards to your drive” or “never chunk a chip again” or “take 5 strokes off with this simple technique.”  

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Golfers seemingly will spend whatever it takes, whether money or time or both, to find the cure of what ails their game. And armed with this new solution we head to the course brimming with confidence. Ready to unleash the new club or put to use the innovative technique you read about in a magazine. And sometimes they work. 

But maybe more indicative of a real golfer is when the new thing fails and we continue our pursuit of excellence. Who knows, maybe that article you read was right. 

Golf-Toons #8 - Swing Thoughts

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Wiser minds tell us to, "Quiet your mind and try not to think when swinging the club." Or they tell you "It's best to have a single swing-thought for your entire round." But when you are playing, it is difficult to shut out all the things you think you need to do to execute a proper swing. Especially if you are doing so many things incorrectly. 

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And while thinking of something totally unrelated to golf might keep the golf swing demons at bay for a while, it might produce unexpected results if your "single thought" is a favorite meal and your full by the third hole. 

Maybe the old golf axiom "Play it as it lies" should be re-imagined as "Lie when you play."
So, just tell yourself your swing is o.k. even if it's not, and just swing.

Golf-Toons #7 - Uncle of Camilo Villegas

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Of all the facets of the game, putting may be the most mystifying and varied. Putter designs are myriad. Grips range from the popular reverse overlap to the ominous sounding cross-handed reverse claw. 

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But the most baffling aspect of putting is reading greens. The conversations about a putt can invoke speed, roll, incline, grain, turf varieties, wind, temperature, and moisture. We seek knowledge from offhand remarks like “did you see the break at the end of that putt?” Sizing up a putt sparks a host of questions. 

My question is: “Who taught Camilo how to read greens?”

The answer is probably an entire community of people met on his golf journey. And may have included a crafty old uncle and a pilates instructor. So maybe take a moment to remember who you learned the game from, who taught you.  And thank them.

Golf-Toons #5 - Tree Shot

We golfers take ourselves seriously and believe anything is possible.  Why take a penalty stroke if you can get your club back and might be able to hit your ball to the fairway or maybe even onto the green?  Remember those miraculous shots Ken Venturi showed us to save strokes?  Why not give it a try?

With a little dash of optimism and the mentality of "if you can see the green, you can hit the green" you just might be able to pull off a 'miracle shot' of your own.   

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And then there is the concept of "Risk / Reward".  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  "I'll just take a club and climb up there to see for myself".  You can always count on your golf buddies to offer some encouragement and help you focus on the “reward" and forget the “risk”.  Just the push you need to give it a go, though these type of shots used to be easier when metal spikes were allowed.  

All your mates really want is to see good theater or at least some bit of entertainment. After all the "Risk / Reward” for them is zero risk and the reward might be priceless.  They might witness your 'miracle shot' or have a good laugh at your expense.

Every shot is serious business.  And if you do manage to pull off the shot….Hallelujah!  Faith renewed!  Anything is possible.

Golf-Toons #4 - Plumb bob from 182 yards out

If it’s good for the pros it’s got to be good for my game.  How many times have you told that to yourself? 

And does anyone really know how to Plumb-Bob?  Regardless of how many articles you read in Golf Magazines, plumb-bobbing putts is considered one of the dark arts by many.  It could be a big joke played on golfers by tennis players to make us look ridiculous.

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There is nothing worse than slow play, especially when you are being held up by a decent golfer playing a casual Saturday morning round with friends as if its Sunday afternoon at Augusta.

Learn from the Pros on TV, bring the same intensity but leave the plumb-bobbing for the practice green or at least when no one is waiting.  

Golf-Toons #3 - Eternal Struggle of Golf

Absurd may be the best word to describe golf, though futility also comes to mind.        

Punished for his craftiness, Sisyphus was condemned to push an enormous boulder uphill only to have it roll back down for eternity.  Any golfer can certainly relate to this plight.

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Camus wrote that he didn’t think Sisyphus was sad or despondent about having to push the boulder up the hill.  He felt Sisyphus was the eternal optimist because he never gave up and always thought he’d make it to the top one day.

For most of us golf is an uphill battle. Every hole a separate struggle, and a fresh start regardless of the previous hole glories or tragedies.  

And we golfers are a crafty, optimistic bunch, always trying to save a stroke and believing we can in spite of how absurd or futile reality may be.   

Rare is the golfer that actually gives up. We all keep trying and believe the next shot will be the one we remember for our own eternity.