GolfToons 52 - Blame the Equipment

“It’s not me, can’t be”

You gotta blame something when a simple shot goes astray. Fat shots, hosels, thin-to-win, pulls, pushes, ducks, s***** and worm burners. The ball is just sitting there, how hard can it be? Especially if you practice.

But the errant shot happen to every golfer, at every level. Hello Sergio.

How many times have you seen an outfielder muff a fly ball and as he walks back to his position, he looks at his glove. Like it was the glove’s fault. It’s human nature.

“It’s not me, can’t be”

That’s why when our clubs go ‘clubbing’ they often complain about getting blamed for OUR lousy swings.

Taking responsibility for your own mistakes is an oft repeated lesson in golf. But a lesson that never seems to gain permanence.

More likely is a visit to the golf store for a remedy or quick fix. And a trip to the garage for your driver.

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GolfToons 24 - Fore

Where does the term ‘FORE’ come from?  As with many terms in a game as old as golf, a definitive origin is not possible.  Though two contending sources are both plausible and interesting enough to share here. 

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One comes from the time when golf balls were expensive and so, golfers employed forecaddies ahead of the shots to make it easier to locate where the balls landed.  Golfers would cry out “Fore” and give an indication of where the shot was directed. 

Makes sense and probably sped play.

The other origin story comes from the times when cannon practice was held in the same coastal waste areas where golf was played.  Gunners would shout ‘Before Beware’ and then fire their munitions at distant targets.   This practice was adopted by golfers, perhaps at first for a laugh.  As golf became more popular, and hence the ‘links’ more crowded, the warning was found to be useful and shortened to ‘Fore’

 You decide, and be sure to warn those nearby of any errant shots from your group.

GolfToons 23 - Difficult versus Impossible

What is the difference between difficult and impossible?

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It really comes down to how you deal with the issue at hand and how you want to approach the dilemma you are facing. In golf terms, what does the shot call for?

Most weekend warriors believe breaking 90 or 80 or 70 is possible. And just this weekend I heard someone on the practice green say, “I believe I can make every putt”. Not any putt, but every putt!

We are ready for anything and nothing is impossible. Nothing.

On the other hand, almost everything we do on a golf course is difficult. Simple chips, 8 inch putts, even fishing a ball out of a shallow pond can have treacherous consequences. Nothing related to golf is easy. Nothing.

Let’s just say it depends on the lie.

 

GolfToons 22 - Quiet on the Tee

Hitting a golf ball is a daunting task, especially off the first tee. Actually any tee, regardless if it’s onto a manicured fairway, over a watery hazard or a bottomless crevasse. Golf is hard.

Many vital element are required, the most exaggerated of all could be the importance of calm, stillness and quiet.

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The situation must be right to hit a straight tee shot. No lint on the sweater sleeve, nothing in the field of vision; leaves, twigs, and the like.  Pity the insect interested in a perched golf ball.  And no birds chirping, no nearby mowers within earshot or planes overhead.  Not to mention the other man-made sounds of jingling pocket change or dropped clubs. 

Why is quiet so important, when the noise level is so high inside the heads of most golfers?  What if we teed off next to a tire repair shop or over a marching band?  Could that offer enough of a distraction to allow a free-flowing swing?  We will never know.

As we play on, we all have the prerogative on the tee box to step away, back off the shot and restart our pre-swing routine, using helpful tools however ridiculous they may seem to anybody else. 

 

GolfToons 21 - Bird Grip

There are many ways to hold a putter, probably as many grips as there are putters available on the market.  Everyone must feel comfortable over their putt, and find confidence in the tools of their trade. 

 Some putters or some grips can send a different message, especially to opponents or nemesis you may find in your foursome.

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We golfers are a quirky tribe.  Spending four hours with someone with slightly annoying tendencies, can be unbearable at times. 

After 18 holes, an irksome habit can get quite amplified.  Minor tension can grow to mutterings, cursing, sarcasm and outright contempt.  At times, combatants must be separated, and real danger is possible from questionable errant shots.    

 Things can get out a hand on the golf course.  GolfToons likes the idea of everybody getting along, enjoying this great game in Eden-like settings. 

Though if a subtle, hidden message makes you feel more comfortable or confident in making an important putt, then by all means grip as you like.

GolfToons 20 - Out of Bounds

Have you ever hit one of those titanic slices that boggle your mind? Make you question your very golf being? I’ve hit more than a few and I’ve also witnessed some doozies.

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I recall one time when a friend sliced a drive that sailed over a row of houses lining the course. Our foursome listened to a series of bone rattling noises that conjured up images of dented hoods, smashed yard ornaments, and ending with a series of ‘clicks’ as the ball bounced down the avenue.

Those are the types of shots you don’t even bother looking for. In fact I will attempt to speed play in hopes of leaving the scene of the crime before an angry home owner, screaming profanities, comes looking for retribution.

However, when someone in your group hits one deep into the woods, etiquette compels you to contribute a cursory look. Maybe you can locate the errant shot, or some other treasures.

But be careful. Sometimes it is better to let lost balls lie. Or you could receive a ‘deliverance’ from your slice you did not expect.

GolfToons 19 - Unwanted Compliments

Can a compliment be an act of gamesmanship? Possibly. Allow me to explain.

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The frustration of a birdie putt that comes up short can cloud one’s mind with unspoken expletives, as well as sap the sincerity from well intended compliments.

Conversely, a compliment delivered with a smirk can be unsettling enough to linger to the next tee and beyond.

In the game of golf, etiquette and honor do not require that every miscue need consolatory commentary. Sometimes it’s better to echo your partner’s frustration with a “Are You Kidding Me!” or a short and succinct &%*@. At least you will be more in tune with your partners attitude. 

A little thoughtfulness is the best course and commiserating with your golf buddy is considered a magnanimous gesture. But if you need your opponent to hook it OB on the next tee box, try a smarmy Fantastic effort Bob!” Beware of flying putters.

GolfToons 18 - The Shadow Knows

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men! The Shadow Knows!”

Much to my surprise the USGA addresses using a shadow to indicate the line of a putt. Rule 8-2b/1 “On the Putting Green” actually exists and to my amazement is legal, as long as your caddie or playing partner removes their shadow prior to you stroking the putt. 

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This is a bit off my intended topic, which is “Unsolicited Advice on The Golf Course.” I tried to find some pithy quote on the subject but nothing seemed to fit the golfing realm. 

So, I offer my own quote:

“Golf can be frustrating enough without someone offering well intended advice!”

There’s just something about advice when you’re struggling, that just seems to make matters worse. Especially when the advice comes from some guy with a handicap higher than Rihanna’s age (She turns 30 this year.)

I try my best to accept unsolicited advice with grace, never invoking the two stroke penalty, Rule 8-1 “Advice”. Though if the advice works, I’m buying when we get to the clubhouse even if The Shadow knows.

GolfToons 17 - Old Trusty

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We all have our ‘Go-To’ clubs.  The ones we hit well, feel confident at address or just seem to get lucky with.  The club we can take a little off, or add a little extra to.  The one that you pull out of the bag, kiss the head and say sweet nothings to like, “Don’t fail me now.” It has survived several seasons of the tidal wave of new product launches that guarantee we will hit it longer, cure our slice and shave strokes off our game. 

At times ‘Old Trusty’ may have even been relegated to a dank corner in our garage when we abandoned it for the latest and greatest. But when the new club that promised we’d never hit a fat shot again doesn’t pan out we bring ‘Old Trusty’ back, give it a good cleaning, and return it to our bag.  Forgetting it’s past failures and reaffirming our belief that our short-comings wasn’t technique but technology.

Many a time I’ve witnessed the depth of faith in ‘Go-To’ clubs particularly when vast expanses of water must be carried or serious coin is on the line. Often ‘Go-To’ clubs get used most when the other clubs have had a bad day. You just yearn to hit a crisp shot and not look like the miserable hack you are. Maybe that’s why you’ll see ‘Old Trusty’ pulled out of the bag even when your range finder or the yardage marker begs you to hit the six iron and you air mail a well struck ball with ‘Old Trusty’ twenty yards over the green.

GolfToons 16 - Quiet Please

There are times when we all would like a bit of peace and quiet: Early morning breakfasts, retreats to nature and those moments when you’re trying to concentrate on a difficult task. 

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The sight of a marshal hoisting their “Quiet Please” paddle during a golf tournament often makes me wish I had one of those things. It would come in handy when dealing with a loquacious salesmen, a rude cell phone user at the cinema or any time you wish someone would just give it a rest.

Unfortunately the “Quiet Please” paddle would not do you much good during a typical weekend round, unless you had a one-handed golf swing or play with a group without a sense of humor.

After watching the Ryder Cup I think there were a few times one of the US players could have used a “Quiet Please” paddle instead of their finger. It might not have gone over any better, but at least it would have loosened up the US side. They just seemed too darn serious.

Next time the noise level reaches a crescendo around the house let us know how your “Quiet Please” paddle worked out for you.

GolfToons 15 - Just Short

You hit a crisp shot, sending a towering blow tracking on a great line. You are frozen, in a motionless follow-through pose watching your ball descend towards the green. “Please, please be enough,” you mutter. Then, catastrophe!

Splash!

Stunned and still in full pose, your jaws slackens, your eyes widen and you are speechless. Too stupefied to resort to profanity much less close your gaping mouth. By just inches, your swing went from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.

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Like a statue, you continue posing, dumb-struck, as the ripples from the watery entry of your ball slowly cascade outward. The concentric little waves gently arcing towards you, still slack-jawed and stupefied.

Is this the work of some version of the Golf Gnome?

Then thoughts enter your mind.

“Was the wind stronger than I thought?”

“Should I have hit the 8 iron?”

“I made good contact.”

Why? Why did it come up short? Why do I keep hearing Jim McKay’s voice in my head?”

Suddenly from the rear someone yells, “Suck it up and get a move on, Bud. It’s backing up behind us.”

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.

GolfToons 5 - Tree Shot

We golfers take ourselves seriously and believe anything is possible.  Why take a penalty stroke if you can get your club back and might be able to hit your ball to the fairway or maybe even onto the green?  Remember those miraculous shots Ken Venturi showed us to save strokes?  Why not give it a try?

With a little dash of optimism and the mentality of "if you can see the green, you can hit the green" you just might be able to pull off a 'miracle shot' of your own.   

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And then there is the concept of "Risk / Reward".  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  "I'll just take a club and climb up there to see for myself".  You can always count on your golf buddies to offer some encouragement and help you focus on the “reward" and forget the “risk”.  Just the push you need to give it a go, though these type of shots used to be easier when metal spikes were allowed.  

All your mates really want is to see good theater or at least some bit of entertainment. After all the "Risk / Reward” for them is zero risk and the reward might be priceless.  They might witness your 'miracle shot' or have a good laugh at your expense.

Every shot is serious business.  And if you do manage to pull off the shot….Hallelujah!  Faith renewed!  Anything is possible.

GolfToons 4 - Plumb bob from 182 yards out

If it’s good for the pros it’s got to be good for my game.  How many times have you told that to yourself? 

And does anyone really know how to Plumb-Bob?  Regardless of how many articles you read in Golf Magazines, plumb-bobbing putts is considered one of the dark arts by many.  It could be a big joke played on golfers by tennis players to make us look ridiculous.

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There is nothing worse than slow play, especially when you are being held up by a decent golfer playing a casual Saturday morning round with friends as if its Sunday afternoon at Augusta.

Learn from the Pros on TV, bring the same intensity but leave the plumb-bobbing for the practice green or at least when no one is waiting.  

GolfToons 3 - Eternal Struggle of Golf

Absurd may be the best word to describe golf, though futility also comes to mind.        

Punished for his craftiness, Sisyphus was condemned to push an enormous boulder uphill only to have it roll back down for eternity.  Any golfer can certainly relate to this plight.

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Camus wrote that he didn’t think Sisyphus was sad or despondent about having to push the boulder up the hill.  He felt Sisyphus was the eternal optimist because he never gave up and always thought he’d make it to the top one day.

For most of us golf is an uphill battle. Every hole a separate struggle, and a fresh start regardless of the previous hole glories or tragedies.  

And we golfers are a crafty, optimistic bunch, always trying to save a stroke and believing we can in spite of how absurd or futile reality may be.   

Rare is the golfer that actually gives up. We all keep trying and believe the next shot will be the one we remember for our own eternity.