GolfToons 53 - Blame Your Parents

You hear a lot of excuses on the golf course.

The one excuse you may never hear is blaming a bad shot on the parents. This is a possible extention to one of our early gems, GolfToons 12 - Golf Mom. We have come a long way

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Like almost any noble goal, golf demands accountability, especially towards yourself.

You really can’t blame anyone else, except possibly…

  • The rude playing partner who burps on your downswing,

  • Greens harder than a Wal-mart parking lot,

  • Howling 30 mph crosswinds,

  • Rain saturated fairways,

  • The plugged lie in a bunker wall,

  • The sprinkler head on the green apron,

  • The hapless bird that flies into the path of your ball,

  • or maybe the lightning bolt that takes out your three playing partners.

Other than these few examples, most other excuses seem lame.

GolfToons 48 - Better Lucky than Good

We’ve all experienced luck on the course. The sculled iron that somehow nestles up on the green 6 feet from the pin. Or a shot that ricocheted off a tree back into the fairway. Or the always tricky play off the ball washer.

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The most incredible piece of luck I witnessed was when a friend hit a slightly errant drive that bounced off a pool cage screen, shot straight up into the air, landed on a cart path and then bounced another hundred yards, coming to rest 80 yards from a par 4 green.

He still bogeyed the hole. But that might have gone viral if I had caught it on video.

What’s the luckiest shot you’ve experienced or witnessed?

GolfToons 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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GolfToons 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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GolfToons 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.

GolfToons 34 - Voices

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The eternal war for our golfing soul can take on schizophrenic proportions. The battle pitting the forces of conceit versus humble acceptance of our shortcomings.

With our confidence at stake, we try to calm ourself with soothing pre-shot routines.

We try to silence our mind of the endless suggestions and tips that populate our grey matter.

It’s not easy to do, especially when you’re in the midst of a bad round. But next time you hear those voices trying to encourage or erode your game just tell them to shut up and have fun.

Or tell them to talk amongst themselves and you’ll join the conversation next time you’re at the range. Just don’t let anyway see you talking out loud to them.

GolfToons 33 - Clowns on the course

At last summer’s US Open Bryson DeChambeau yelled out in frustration, ”This is clown golf!”

“Gee,” I thought to myself, ”that sounds like a lot of fun.”

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Wearing size 28 golf shoes, gargantuan club heads, and riding around in one of those tiny clown carts would be a blast. Especially if you teed it up at one of those persnickety country clubs. Imagine the sneering! It would probably be so glaring you’d have to wearing giant, cartoonish sunglasses.

But in the staid world of golf I’m guessing the closest we can come to clown golf is wearing some John Daly pants.

GolfToons 32 - Novelty Club Head Covers

Sports Therapist are all the rage on the PGA Tour these days, but what do you do if you’re just a weekend hack? What if you can’t afford the expense for a mind probe? Or you just don’t want an entourage.

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Therapists often use dolls or hand puppets for various role playing exercises. This seemed a little strange at first…I mean SEEMS…

Anyway, in many golf bags I see the perfect tool for just such a moment.

And who cares, as long as it lands in the short grass!

GolfToons 31 - Yoga Pants

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Is their nothing that golfers won’t try to add a few yards to their drives?

It seems every morning when I check my inbox there a several emails that promise me more length and most of them are golf-related. The subject lines tantalize you with added distance, increased swing speed, and higher launches. They can be cutting-edge technologies, revolutionary design innovations, newly discovered carbon fibre formulas, or never-before told secret insights that will take your drives to the next level.

The other realm of assistance are the home-spun variety that you encounter on the course. These are the one I fall prey to. They can range from the plausible to the absurd. Like the guy who handed me a blue cloth bag and said “Crown Royal cured my slice.” Honestly, it didn’t work for me but if not for the side effects I swear it improved my putting.

Lately I have run into several golfers who claim major benefits from yoga. But I’m a “quick-fix” kind of guy so just give me the pants and let’s see what happens.

GolfToons 30 - From your Knees

Golfers call penalties on themselves. An interesting byproduct of this aspect of the game, is that often we have to interpret the rules as situations present themselves. Complications can arise when rules are misinterpreted. A friend of mine thought an unplayable lie was anything in a sand trap.

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Rule 14.3 states when taking relief, the ball must be dropped from knee height. There’s a lot more stuff in rule 14.3 but this knee height thing could be misinterpreted especially by the thick-headed that golf amongst us.

There are no rules officials during a typical Saturday morning match at the local Muni. No Slugger Whites. So be patient and be specific when explaining the new rules to the misinformed.

And so the game continues to give back, often in the form of fodder for the 19th hole.

 

GolfToons 29 - In or Out?

It’s but the early days of 2019 and already the new changes to the rules of golf are creating a buzz. The noisiest reaction being the “Leave It In vs. Take It Out” argument. This new rule allows players to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting. It makes sense and should speed play in most instances.

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It seems there are two camps forming. One camp believes leaving the pin in all the time is the best way to go. Called the “In Crowd” they believe the pin helps with alignment and judging distance. And the ball has a better chance of going in, especially on the downhill putts. The physics and field studies seem to be on their side. I saw proof in a YouTube video so it must be true.

The other camp, the “Old Schoolers,” may ignore the option or just bad at remembering new rules. Heck, Phil doesn’t know them yet so cool your jets “In Crowd,” Phil Mickelson is eating lunch at our table. They also feel the pin can be a distraction on shorter putts.

Has it actually sped up play? Probably, but I played a round of golf with both an “In Crowd” and “Old Schooler.” In and out, in and out, in and out, and on to the second hole.

What do you think, in or out?
Are you a member of the “In Crowd” or “Old School” ?

Next week we talk about the 2019 edition of the drop ball for relief rule and the push-back from short golfers.

GolfToons 27 - Gender Bender

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Golfers are always looking for an advantage.  And in the shadow of the new rules of 2019, that could be a better drop, a pin left in the hole or some other creative interpretation of these recent decrees. In addition to the mental warfare between shots where dominance can shift.     

You can always find someone stretching or misinterpreting the rules to their favor.  That is part of the game of golf, especially as the combatants, we serve as judge and jury.  Golfers call penalties on themselves, a unique and glorious aspect of golf.   

 Golf is a test of your character.  The ball is stationary, and action begins only when you decide it is time for the swing to start.   

What is personally out of bounds for you?

How far will you go for an advantage? 

GolfToons 26 - Interview With a Vampire Golfer

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Imagine playing golf for a few centuries and what it must be like for someone as old as Dracula. From course design, advances in equipment to innumerable rules modifications, he has been through a lot of change.

Although he complains endlessly about finding courses honoring midnight tee times, he does appreciate the improvements in ball technology. “I find the low spin ball has elevated my game dramatically, “ says the Count.

He hasn’t lost much distance due to aging, and improvements in equipment have added at least 75 yards to his drives. Impressive at the age 542. He does confess that it took him 61 years to putt decently.

Since the Count plays during “off hours” he almost never has to suffer playing behind a slow foursome. The last time he got caught behind a dallying group, the entire foursome mysteriously vanished somewhere between the 5th green and the 6th tee box at the Transylvania Golf and Country Club (the Hades course.)

His favorite golf gambling game is a version of skins he calls “First Blood.” The one variation being that when a tie occurs (also known as “no blood”) you can contest the tie in a “longest off the tee” on the next hole. If the next hole is a par three, closest to the pin is used and is referred to as a “bloody hell.”

Dracula also thinks some of the new rule changes for 2019 are long overdue. “Back in the day, we used to leave the flag in the hole all the time. Especially when you’re playing in twosomes, it just makes sense and speeds up play. Last thing I want to risk is getting to the 18th hole as the sun rises.”

GolfToons 25 - Anything Smaller?

We have all played with him.  The guy with his shadow in your line, or with the practice swing you can see out of the corner of your eye.  Not to mention the jingling pocket change.  They usually set the flag down a little too close to the hole. 

 Moving a ball mark may be the easiest distraction to avoid. The rules of golf offer refuge, allowing the mark to be moved such that your putt line will not be affected.  Unless you miss-putt and hit the ball mark anyway. 

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We love the old black-and-white footage when marks were not permitted and you could “stymie” or leave a ball in the way as part of the game.  Mashies or wedges were used to jump over a blocking ball.  The films always show the successful shot.

What about the sculled attempts, or the divots taken near the hole?  We never see that footage, but using ball marks is a much better play.  

Until some joker takes out a manhole cover or Vegas chip he has been somehow carrying all day, and marks it in your line.  Move it, friend 2 to the left!

GolfToons 11 - Golf Gnome

This is the flip side to our "In the Hole A-hole" - the "Not In the Hole."  You know, those dastardly putts that are on the perfect line, heading right at the hole, but comes up just short. The ball literally hangs on the lip of the cup. Perilously dangling on the edge of a cliff.

Give it a couple seconds! It will fall. It must! The PGA allows 10 seconds. You give it 11 but alas you swat the ball into the cup in disgust. 

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What kept the ball from falling in the hole?  It could be gravity or some other law of physics. The blame certainly can't be yours.

Something nefarious is afoot. Maybe a case of cursed luck? A rogue wind? Or maybe, just maybe, those "little people" the Irish speak of: goblins, fairies and elves. Surely you heard a tiny little laugh emanating from the hole. Chuckling at your misfortune. Denying you your lucky charms.

We like to call it the "Golf Gnome" and our hope is he is somewhere else when our next 30-footer is tracking!

GolfToons 10 - The "In the Hole" A-hole

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You know the guy. The a-hole standing in the gallery who yells " In the hole! " at the tournaments. It doesn't matter if it's a drive on a 660 yard par five or if the player is hitting a ball sideways just to get it into the fairway, this guy is going to yell, " In the hole! "

But just who is this dude? I have a hunch that he must be using this refrain throughout his life and daily going-ons. 

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GolfToons 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. 

GolfToons 8 - Swing Thoughts

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.

GolfToons 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.