Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A four letter word that ends with "Golf"

"You can't par them all if you don't par the first one!" is what my golfing buddy Jackie always says after someone manages to par the first hole. When he is playing... you hear it almost every time... He's one of those guys that golf comes to naturally. His tee shots may not rival the distance his sons can hit them, but they are usually always in the fairway and well within range where he can hit his next club to within about 10 feet of the pin. He's got the best second shots I've ever seen among casual golfers. Exceptional is the best thing I can say about his playing.

For most golfers however, exceptional has way too many consonants to best describe our level of play! All too often, our tee shots fly long and far... into the right rough, behind some trees and dribble into a creek or lake that for some crazy reason the course designer decided was a good place to put it. On the other hand, if you try to avoid the lake it is often characterized by what Tiger Woods calls a "quacker" which is nothing more than a quick duck hook into the left side rough. The next three shots are usually tied up with some sort of effort trying to dislodge the ball from a tree root or fishing it out of the edge of the water... with our pant legs rolled up around our hips and our shoes filling with muck.

Five shots later... we're finally at the edge of the green - maybe 20 feet away from the fringe - where we proceed to chili dip our way onto the green with three more shots using a very inconsiderate lob wedge - only to be followed up by a putter that swings more like a dazed Mike Tyson than a grandfather clock pendulum.

"Jackie"? "a four", "Jerry?" "a birdie", "Jimmy?" "a par plus one"... "Jon?... "a very well earned 10!!!" (actually I lost count) As my dad always said: “At least you get your money's worth, son!"

Don't get me started on the money side of golf... I quit this stupid game back in the early eighties when green fees went from $8.00 to $12.00! Today you can't even get a bucket of balls for much less than $11.00. When I finally took up the game again five years ago, green fees were up to a minimum of $45.00 at the public dog tracks and if you wanted to play on a course that actually had grass on the fairways and sand in the bunkers, you're in for a walloping triple digit shellacking! Pebble Beach is over 4 c-notes and there isn't even grass on those fairways!

But that's not why I'm here - talking about this game that we have such a love/hate relationship we can't seem to end. Like a bad blind date... she just keeps calling back. ...somewhere playing in the BACKGROUND is the song by Steely Dan that says:

"Well the danger on the rocks is surely past..."

Surely not!

"Still I remain tied to the mast"

Allusions to any other ill odyssey aside - I have come up with what I think is the most sound and solid approach to golf there could possibly be. Guaranteed to reduce your scores by at least 50% in the first game... if you follow this very simple advice to the letter.

No longer will you have to worry about whether you are supinating or pronating, forget about how big your backswing is or whether you are "swinging the handle". Forget Pelz, ignore McLean, disregard Harmon! All you need to do is simplify your game in the following way.

"Stay focused like a laser beam and remember your #1 objective!"

That's it - there is nothing more to it. So you may ask, "How do I do that?"

Here you go...

Par 4s (the most common hole on any golf course)

The Tee Shot. #1 objective - hit it into the fairway (the short grass). If that means take a little off and don't swing so hard - then that's it. Aim down the middle and dish it out there in play. IF* it stops rolling and stays in the fairway - then it was a success! (*If frogs had wings - they wouldn't bump their butts when they jump...)

The Second Shot. #1 objective is to advance the ball toward the green, failing that, getting it close is good enough. Stay out of the bunkers and you're home free!

The Third Shot. #1 objective - advance the ball toward the pin. Whether it is a chip shot or a long putt, you should try to stop the ball within about a three-foot circle from the pin.

The Fourth Shot. #1 objective - the ball rattles into the bottom of the cup from your short little tap in 3 footer. Nothin' could be easier. If you're thinking about anything else... you're thinking way too much! ...this ain't Goofy-Golf after all!!!

"Wait" you say... "It's just not that easy, there are par 3s and 5s to worry about!" So here you go - think of it like this... on par 5s, you get an extra second shot to get the ball closer to the hole - nothin’ to it! Par 3s - shoot - they are nothing more than a par four without all the trials and tribulations of gripping and ripping the big dog and letting it eat... tree branches and fish trails. Piece of cake! "There's a new sheriff in town!"

When you think about it, (something you should do very little of on a golf course) most par four holes are somewhere between 300 and 400 yards. Most people can hit their tee shots 250 yards... shoot the average distance on the pro tour is only about 280 yards! That leaves at the most another 150 yards to the green. Learn how to hit your driver and your 8 iron and you're home free. Just two clubs will make you a better player! As Jackie often says... "It's an easy game."

Now that I have successfully made all golfers who read this blog into par golfers... you can send me 1 dollar every time you par a hole. Hey - that's fair isn't it? Golf is a game to be played fairly - right? It's played among honorable men and (ahem...women). What's a dollar or two between friends?

oh... and if you can't hit your tee shot 250 yards... you don't belong on the course anyway. Try spending some quality time on the practice tee - cause you're just clogging up the course for the rest of us triple digit ball strikers... ;-)


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