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Par for the course

The cold wind is cutting through my winter coat, the water on the ground is squishing into my tennis shoes, and I am learning a colorful new vocabulary, yet everybody else around me is enjoying themselves. Welcome to golf. Despite the hardships, though, I could maybe learn to like this game, that is if I can first understand it.

The object of the game is to hit a little white ball into a hole that is way over on the horizon. The winner is whoever does so by hitting their ball the fewest number of times. It sounds like the less you play the more likely you are to win.

First you need the equipment. A bag of clubs consists of a driver, irons, woods, a wedge, putters and balls. A spade to dig your own golf hole is extra. A driver is not what a carpenter uses, no matter how screwed up your shot may be. No, your golf cart chauffeur is not your driver. Do golfers need the iron for their golf pants, golf caps and tee-shirts? A wood sounds like more of a traditional club; at least it might float if “accidentally” thrown into a water hazard. A putter is used for a short, very controlled hit of the ball on what is called the green. Don’t let it confuse you that some golf courses are dry and brown. There must be two ways of approaching golf; some people try to play on the green, while some get in what they call a play-off.

The place you play is called a course, mostly because it is surrounded by rough. The ground has divots and the balls have dimples. I once thought that they used dogs, because players talk about a ball retriever, birdies, drop areas and being handicapped. Golfers play in foursomes; four heads must be better than one because I hear that there’s a hole in one. Golfers don’t grow old, they just have too many strokes; and to “follow through” with that thought, can you have a stroke in your back, especially if you remember to keep your head down while doing it? If the real frustrations of golf aren’t enough, you can use a simulator. It must be a very violent sport with all its traps, hazards, chipping, slicing, hooking and penalties. Golf spelled backwards is flog. Everyone is always getting teed-off. Hey, I’m not trying to get out of bounds here, but there has to be a more “fairway” to play a game.

Egotism must be expected because they even have a title-list. Players are amateurs or pros; there are divot-fixers and ball-markers, threesomes and foursomes, and there are always guys around named Nike or Bogey. The latter one must have a twin, because once in a while people mention Double Bogey. Good golfers must always need repair, because every course has a pro shop. You can slice or hook if you are right handed; but if you are left handed can you hook or slice? With all that space, why do they have flag sticks instead of flag poles?

I have already learned that you can have a good lie, a bad lie or even a bare-faced lie; and that the best golf hole is usually the 19th.