I’m not a golfer. I used to pretend to be one… in high school. There was a very affordable par-3 course in town — affordable to the tune of $2 for the first nine and $1 for every additional. Fireball Hardee’s. It was cheaper to play golf there than to stay at home (my mom charged me for use of the air conditioner). It was also cooler to play golf (mom liked to smoke meat in the living room, hatch chicken eggs in the bathtubs, and “heat sterilize” dirty dishes in order to save water). So golf was sort of a refuge for me. And if I was really hot, it was no problem at this particular par-3, because there were no rules for dress — I just took my shirt off. They also didn’t require spikes, so I could wear a pair of sandals and work on my awesome “Teva tan” (very popular when I was in high school — probably more so than the “Chaco tan” of today, and it also had a much better ring to it). I know, I know… those of you who are real golfers are saying, “That’s not golf. Golf is a gentleman’s sport. You were participating in some really strange variation of lawnmower racing and cornhole.”
But it was golf… kind of. Except when I was angry, which was only on holes 2-8. I could usually play the first hole alright — and take a mulligan if I didn’t. But by hole 2 I was out of mulligans, and angry that I’d come. ”I should’ve stayed home,” I’d grumble, “and cut firewood for mom’s furnace. At least I would’ve accomplished something — making sure there was enough fuel for the chilly 65-degree winters in Dothan, Alabama.” So I’d stay angry, throwing clubs and hitting the ball as hard as I could, until the end of hole 8, at which time I would reason with myself that I should cool off and use my last hole as an opportunity to concentrate and prepare for the next 9. Plus, all the old men chewing tobacco and talking about the weather were watching everyone’s play on the 9th. I wouldn’t want them to think I didn’t know what I was doing.
I’d usually finish the day at 54 (an even par)… but only having played 11 holes — because by that time all my clubs were either wrapped around tree trunks or in the middle of a corn field. I always regretted there were no water hazards at Fireball’s. I think the plunk of an 8-iron landing in the middle of a pond would have been a very satisfying sound, much more so than the rustle of cornstalks followed by a dull thud.
The golf world, as a whole, is probably happy I went into early retirement, especially any individual ever forced to play with me in a scramble, or hit by my one of my projectile drivers. Truth is, I haven’t had the money to play golf since high school — probably because my mom charges visitors double on the a/c. Hey, everybody’s gotta’ make a living. But I’d like to think I’ve moved on to better hobbies now — ones which offer actual exercise and don’t require as much hand-eye coordination or skill. Like lawnmower racing… and cornhole.
In other news, Lorena Ochoa, someone I’ve never heard of until today, is retiring from the LPGA at age 28. And she’s doing so for some pretty good reasons. Ochoa has apparently been ranked at number one for three years straight, and has made a ton of cash playing golf. [I hear she also has made playing in Tevas popular again.] She is retiring to — get this — “focus on her family and charity work.” That’s awesome. Here’s a link.