As a recreational golfer who started late to the game I’ve come to be amused at the actions and comments (myself included) that have been so predictable and repetitive they’ve become comical.
So if you’re not a golfer, the foregoing is not for you. I understand.
Let me say, upfront, that I am not an elite amateur golfer. As a matter of fact, I am average at best. My handicap is closer to 20 than 10, much closer.
But I enjoy the game so much, I relish my time on the course. Some love golf because they hope to win a few bucks when they play.
Others love the camaraderie and the friendship of spending four hours competing, then having a post-match beverage and possibly lunch or a snack with their buddies.
You have to really like your buddies to spend at least five hours with them.
I like the betting aspect the least, the friendship more, and the actual game of golf the best.
Even when I’m having an unsatisfactory round, (how is that for a description of a bad day), I always hope to finish strong, take away a good memory and look upon the next golf date with some optimism.
So here are my observations. How many fit your experiences?
It starts with the driving range.
Personally, I don’t like to spend much time, if any, on the driving range before a round.
If you’re hitting good shots and doing precisely what you want to do, you’re in a great frame of mind when you get to the first tee.
Then, when your drive is sliced into the trees, you’re immediately depressed.
If you’re struggling on the range, and can’t get the ball off the ground when you get to the first tee you’re depressed. Even before your first shot.
So, you can be depressed either way coming off the practice range. Who wants that?
Maybe it’s better to just practice putting.
Let’s discuss the chatter during a round.
How many of you have heard the following:
Player swings and hits a worm-burner that goes down the fairway maybe 60 yards.
“It’s in the fairway, that won’t hurt you”.
Player hits a slice into the woods, or worse, into the water.
“That’s not what I wanted to do”.
Player hits an impressive draw onto the green, five feet from the pin.
“Well, that’s what I was trying to do”.
Your team is down 2 after 4 holes.
“We better start playing better”.
After all, there are only 14 holes remaining. Time is definitely running out (I don’t think so).
How about the guy who constantly goes into deep detail on what he did or did not accomplish on his shot, including what club he used etc. etc. etc.
He does this all day.
Doesn’t he realize that no one else cares about what he did or didn’t do, and maybe didn’t even pay attention.
You know why? Every golfer is concerned about only ONE thing. The shot he’s hitting and his game, period!
Then there is the golfer who hits a pronounced hook that’s headed out-of-bounds by a wide margin. In an effort to make him feel better, one of the other players shouts, “turn, turn”, knowing the only way the ball will straighten out will be if a friend, hidden in the woods, throws a ball in the opposite direction.
You hit a terrific drive, but your approach shot never gets to the green.
“That’s okay, a chip and a putt and you have your par”.
The one constant about recreational golf is that your cohorts are always encouraging, looking at the bright side. If you’re having problems, they’ve had the same ones. Many times.
So the good-will, is a good thing.
How often has one player gotten off to a great start, playing out of his mind? Then, you hear:
“Are sure your handicap is what it is?”
He can’t be cheating, can he?
Speaking of that, there is the rare instance when a golfer’s ego and pride get in the way and has to resort to the following:
His drive is CLEARLY out of bounds, maybe in the next county. When you get to where the ball sailed away, as expected the ball is lost.
Then, miraculously, especially when your head is turned, you hear, “Hey, here’s a ball. Let me check it. It’s mine.”
That’s when practicing the short flip after getting another ball from your pocket pays off.
There’s also the player who has a great knack of slightly nudging a ball in the rough to improve his lie. We’ve all seen it all.
Ego and pride also enter the equation when a medium or high-handicapper thinks he can execute a shot in the woods behind three trees that Tiger Woods can deliver 100% of the time.
You can guess the result.
Play it safe? Just get it back into the fairway?
Then, there is a time when your partner, attempting a difficult shot from the deep rough 180 yards from the green, hits one that goes 12 feet.
“ I never do that”, he exclaims.
Well, you just did, I even saw it. And if you’re an 18, you’ve probably done it before. Know what I mean?
Let’s move to the green, shall we?
Your opponent has a 15-footer. The ball rolls four feet past the hole. He looks around.
“Is this good?”
No, you either putt everything out, or it has to be in the “leather” of the putter itself.
Sometimes when there’s only two dollars at stake, you give him the putt.
I love it, when a player sinks a 12-footer for par, and his partner, who needed to make a 10-foot putt, picks it up and declares, “He’s in for a par, and so am I.”
Sometimes, you wonder how accurate scores are, when they’re submitted.
I’ve been amazed at how average, weekend golfers, think golf commentary, that they see on television is simple. They play the game, so how tough can it be?
The reality, from someone who knows something about the TV sports business, is that golf is one of the most difficult sports to broadcast. I’ve never done it, and I’m glad.
To do it well, from the play-by-play side, not the role of the expert who was a distinguished tour pro, is all about knowing precisely when to talk, be concise, and saying what fits at the moment.
It is TV, and the viewers can see. And hear.
Rarely, will you ever hear much talk when a ball is in the air. It may look great, but end up badly.
There is less actual description in golf because viewers can see the result.
I like to tell the story of the great, iconic, golf producer-director Frank Chirkinian, who was known as the “father of televised golf”.
He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame after his death in 2011.
He directed and produced CBS’ golf coverage, including, of course, The Masters, for 37 years.
Chirkinian, was nicknamed “The Ayatollah” for his brusque and demanding approach to his work.
He was once asked, what do you say when a golfer makes an ace, a hole-in-one, in a tournament?
Frank Chirkinian, reply, “you say nothing”.
Think of it. Here’s a shot of a golfer making his swing. The ball sails to the green, bounces, maybe once or twice, and drops into the hole.
The sight of the pin, the reaction of the crowd at the hole is one of sheer elation.
Back to the tee, the player, his caddie, and the audience exult and cheer loudly.
It is an electric moment.
What words from an announcer would be better than the sights and the sounds of what just transpired.
That’s what Chirkinian meant.
Thus, we’ve jumped from the sights and sounds we’ve all experienced when we go out and play a round with our friends, to a magical moment that comes about once in awhile when watching pro golf on television.
If golf is in your blood, you know what it’s all about.