I suck at golf. Some might saying I’m being too harsh – my best round is an 80, I put up seven straight pars in a round last month, and I’m probably somewhere around a 15 handicap. In fact, one of the most common things I hear from my golfing partners is, “You’ve got a really pretty swing,” although that is usually followed 90 seconds later by, “I think your drive went into the woods right by that pine there.”
But, then again, I’m still in the (end of) my athletic prime, I play once a week, and I have been blessed with some semblance of natural ability. One would think that after spending five figures in greens fees and probably a few months of my life trying to play this [worthless excuse for a] game, I’d be a little better. Or a lot better.
So why do I still play? Because, as hockey coaches are fond of saying, “I play the right way.” In hockey, that means a player who always plays at full speed and who will give up his body to make a play for his team. In golf, the meaning is a little bit different. Playing golf “the right way” means not throwing your clubs, laughing when your ball caroms off the cart path into the woods (even though you’re dying inside), and not being afraid to pull your dick out if you don’t hit your drive past the ladies’ tee.
When you suck at golf the right way, you become the perfect playing partner. You’re not good enough to intimidate bad players; nor bad enough to frustrate the good ones. You’re not bad enough to offend some one when you give them a golf tip you read in the doctor’s office last year, and not good enough for someone to spend 18 holes asking for a free golf lesson. And, in that sweet spot of the high-teen handicap, you can make wise-ass comments like, “Hey, asshole, the green’s that way,” or “Yeah, the ball’s in the middle of the lake, but you might have a good lie,” without getting a 4-iron wrapped around your skull.
Because that’s what golf is really about. It’s not a competition against oneself; it’s not a relentless drive to improve; it’s not about enjoying the great outdoors. It’s about rooting for your dearest friends to fail miserably so that you can laugh at them while they turn bright red, curse, and throw things. When you suck at golf the right way, you can get the most enjoyment out of your friends’ failures, while occasionally earning some joy of your own. Here are a few tips:
Think about boobs.
This is actually somewhat serious advice that I use on a fairly regular basis. See, my thought process leading up to a golf swing usually goes something like this: “Come on, asshole, let’s hit a 5-iron one goddamn time. For once in your worthless existence can you not be a moron and push the ball right into the creek. OK, don’t break your wrists…keep your head down…rotate your shoulder…not too far on the backswing…goddamnit, I forgot to hit the ball. Wonder if I can find it in the creek.”
Usually by the eighth hole, I’m so far into my head that my swing has completely collapsed. That’s when I think about boobs. Address the ball, think about boobs. (I’ve got a pair I’m fond of remembering, but you should get your own. If you’re in need, may I kindly recommend Kristen, our Ayre Head for May.) Instead of thinking about wrists and angles and tempo, think about boobs and let your natural athleticism take over.
Some of my divorced friends use a variant of this technique, where they simply visualize their ex-wife’s face in the ball. Many claim it adds an extra fifteen or twenty yards to their drive. But I prefer the “boobs” technique, since the worst-case scenario is that you mishit the ball yet again and then think about boobs some more to relax. Remember, millions of men worldwide waste precious hours on the golf course every weekend, time they could have spent thinking about boobs, looking at boobs, or, if they stayed home and mowed the lawn, even feeling boobs. Don’t make the same mistake.
I’d lay pretty good odds the first round of golf ever bet on was the second round of golf ever played. Nassaus, greenies, 3 Blind Mice, the list goes on and on. But, remember, we suck at golf; we don’t want to be gambling based on our golf skills. If you’re not Irish (like me) and can manage your temper, make a $5 bet on who will yell “Fuck!” the first time. (You can also simply attach a $5 charge to every audible curse word, but I suggest you and your partners have deep pockets for that one.) You can create a pot for the after-round drinks here as well: $2 for any curse word, $5 for an “f-bomb,” $10 for any club that intentionally is released from a player’s hand. If your friend is particularly skilled at throwing clubs, institute a $1-per-yard penalty for any club throwing beyond 10 yards. (I have one friend who normally throws his 4-iron much further than the ball he hits with it.) Imagine the joy of walking off the distance between your seething brother-in-law and his club, knowing that every step is yet another dollar toward whiskeys in the clubhouse. Who cares if you don’t break 100? You’ll be drinking for free.
Some people claim golf is like bowling – it’s actually easier with a slight buzz. I agree; if you want to play well, have a few beers to take the edge off. If you’re not playing well, drink a few more and you won’t care what you shoot. Add in whiskey and laugh your ass off on the 12th green when your shanked chip hits your buddy in the ass. Remember, we suck at golf, and alcohol provides a convenient excuse. Your playing partner will better accept your three-putt on 16 if you point out that you were seeing double and simply aimed at the wrong hole.
I have, on occasion, had playing partners who enjoyed particular, shall we say illegal, substances on the golf course. Though I have not partaken myself, I guarantee dropping acid would certainly liven up a round of golf. Imagine standing on the tee box and listening to your ball tell you to keep your head down. Or standing over a putt, trying to read the green to figure out which way the putt will break, while wondering if the ball will hit the purple dragon that’s guarding the hole. If you are going to try this method, one warning: don’t drive the golf cart.
All these tips – the boobs, the gambling, and the drinking – are intended to help you to relax. Remember, golf is just a game; probably the stupidest, most asinine, most pointless game ever invented, but still a game. We’re out there to have fun, and since we can’t have fun like good golfers do – by making birdies and hitting 280-yard drives – our job is to get drunk and overcome our shortcomings by pointing out our friends’ failures. It’s a great day on the golf course, when you learn how to suck at golf the right way.