Why do we do it? Why do grown men — and some grown women — go out week after week to humiliate ourselves in blistering heat, humidity, rain, snow, geese droppings, rampaging deer, and attack squirrels pretending that, this time, it'll all come together? This time, we'll have a swing as smooth as Ernie "The Big Easy" Els, the power and control of Tiger "My C Game is Better Than Anyone Else's A Game" Woods, and the great attitude of Phil "I'm Playing This My Way" Mickelson.
I've been told by people in authority that the average golfer never breaks 100. For you non-golfers, that's the equivalent of hitting .123 in a baseball league for the blind when you're the only one with vision. Or hitting 35% of foul shots when you're up on a ladder overlooking the basket. Or kicking a field goal from ten yards out when the goal posts have been lowered to ten feet, and the opposing team have all come down with viral pneumonia and can't take the field. In golf, 100 sucks. 90 sucks just a little less. Most of us will never see the other side of 90, so I don't know what 80 does.
It's the only sport I know — and to tell the truth, I know very little about sports — where practice simply does not make perfect, it doesn't fucking help at all. People are assigned a GAP (Golf Ability Profile) at birth by that great Greenskeeper in the Sky, and, regardless of the number of lessons you take, the number of new putters, drivers, types of balls, hats, gloves, and trusses you buy, you cannot change your GAP. Some are lucky to have GAPs of 85. They will always shoot in that range…even on a miniature golf course. Most have GAPs of 105, and there is no teacher, no training manual, no nothing whatsoever that will get them to play consistently below 100.
One of the most amazing moments in golf history, according to me, happened a few years ago. It was, I think, at a U.S. Open, a tournament so vicious, mean, and nasty that I'm surprised golfers let the people who came up with that tournament live. Tiger was in knee high rough over 200 yards from the green. The odds of him even making contact with the ball was roughly 1 in 1,345,236,777,339; it wasn't even clear if he could see the ball.[Aside: My home course used to be the TPC at Avenel, in Potomac, Maryland where the Kemper Open used to be held. Pros didn't think much of the course. Generally, we got golfers from the Lithuanian Ghost League or the Canton, Ohio Death Merchants. But that didn't stop the PGA from turning our difficult enough course into a walk through Dante's Inferno. The rough was triple seeded and grown to the height of an elephant's eye. If you hit into the rough, the odds of finding your ball were roughly 1 in 2,345,333,536. In fact, you'd only find it if you stepped on it, because even if you were standing over it, and someone said, "oh there it is," you still wouldn't be able to see it. So we had a rule. If everyone agreed that you went into the rough in a general area, you'd get a free drop without penalty. Like that helped.
And the greens. Oy, don't get me started on the greens. They were so fast that if you were lucky to even land on the green, you had to run like a bastard and hit your putt before the ball rolled off.]
So there's Tiger. He calls for a 4 iron. 4 iron??? Every other golfer in the world would take a wedge, swing like a madman and hope to get the ball to go 20 or 30 yards into the fairway. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, if cloned into one golfer, would, at best take a 9 iron and go for maybe 50 yards.
Tiger takes a mighty swing, takes a divot (a large clump of sod and grass one hopes to take after hitting the ball) the length of the Mississippi River, and the ball soars over 200 yards to land on the green. The announcers were apoplectic. The spectators were popoplectic. The other golfers who saw it just threw up. Tiger's caddy went and retrieved the divot and brought it back. They both started laughing. It was at least two feet long. No human being could hit a ball in that rough 200 yards, which leads me to suspect that Tiger ain't human. He can't be. I mean, I'm sure he is (just in case his lawyers are watching) but, just between us, no human could have done that.
But that's the problem. That prick Woods and all the other professional pricks make us think that, if we only work hard enough and long enough, we can do better. Bull twinkies.
Tiger was obviously born with a GAP of minus something — which for you non-golfers is better than very good. Sure he and the rest of the pros practice eight, nine, ten hours a day, but that's just for show. If your GAP is 95, you could practice 23 hours a day, and, at best, you might shoot a 93.
Think of another game where practice has no effect on your ability, where you can never be better than the GAP you were given at birth. What kind of moron plays golf? Why do we persist? It's such a stupid game that BlogCritics doesn't even have a special category for it, so we have to file it under "Sports: Other." I don't blame them.
When I first started playing, rather late in life, someone asked me if I knew why they called it golf. I, of course, said no, but I considered that it was flog spelled backwards. I was wrong.
"It's because fuck was already taken," he said.Powered by Sidelines