A Loco Viewpoint

Identifying Golf Newbies

This column is about golfing. If you don’t like golfing, you may as well stop reading, unless you hate golfing, but like reading about people wasting their time on foolish pursuits to improve skills not used anywhere else in their lives (like most Olympic sports, come to think of it), then, please read on.

I have a brother who doesn’t like golfing. We wonder about him, too. I mean, just because it is exhausting, expensive, time consuming and more frustrating than anything you do at work, it’s still great! You get to walk around beautifully maintained, landscaped properties and explore deep into thick forests. At least, if you golf like I do, you get to explore deep into forests. I don’t actually think it’s one of the goals of golf, but when that’s where your stupid ball goes, that’s where you must search (It’s always the ball that’s stupid, you notice?).

Although I have been playing golf since I was a teenager, I end up golfing with a lot of newbies. I think it’s because, despite years of effort, seasoned golfers are embarrassed to hit the links with me. I don’t care. I love it. Where else are you visited by a sweet young thing in a special fridge-mobile, bringing you beer? Nowhere else but at a golf course am I pulled over while driving and offered liquor. How cool is that? They should consider it during rush hour in the city. People would be far calmer. (I’m joking! Don’t get MADD at me!)

As a result of having played with so many golf neophytes, I have developed an eye for gauging someone’s golf experience. A female first-timer will be honest and say she has no idea what she’s doing, while men will rarely admit they don’t know something. Guys will phrase it carefully, like, “Oh, I’ve hit a ball or two in my day,” not mentioning they were referring to baseball or tennis. Even if they lie, as some men do (especially the golfing kind, the fishing kind and the breathing kind), there are ways to identify rookies. In fact, there are so many ways, I’ve listed them for your convenience. Here are 26 subtle clues you’re playing with a golf rookie:

1. Their longest drive was almost a two hundred yarder. It was in the golf cart. (They had to go look for an outhouse.)

2. A “slice” to them, conjures up a loaf of bread in their mind. They don’t know that to cure a slice, they should simply move their left foot slightly back. (Or forward. I can never remember. I always remember to slice, however.)

3. They don't use the eraser on the score pencil. That’s because they don’t know the lowest score wins.

4. Their divots are so large; they should be in the sod business. I couldn’t dig up a patch of lawn like that with a new garden spade. Newbies tear up so much greenery, they get hate mail from environmentalists.

5. They spend at least five minutes figuring out how to back up in the cart. (I’ve actually seen beginners give up trying to find the trick to ‘reverse’ and push it manually.)

6. They giggle at bad shots. Real golfers care too much and swear, throw clubs and hammer down their tees with their driver over bad shots. They know golf is no laughing matter.

7. They need the scorecard map to find the clubhouse again. Their other strategy is to leave a trail of beer cans.

8. The best part of their game was when the beer girl stops by. I always feel bad for the beer girl. When you charge almost six bucks for a beer, you can’t expect too many tips. Six bucks? Who do golf courses think they are? A hockey game?

9. They finish off their game with a course marshal escort; often after only four or five holes.

10. They think driving the cart is the best part of the game, apart from the beer girl from whom they get her number to phone for reinforcements.

11. They don't necessarily do the course in numerical order.

12. They play with their iPods blaring in their ears. It would look odd to see them blaring in other places, I guess.

13. They stop playing if it starts to rain, thunder and hail. Wusses.

14. Their most-used clubs are the ball retriever and the beach rake.

15. They can't keep track of the brand or number on the ball they were playing. Mind you, it changes after almost every shot.

16. They never, ever need fairway woods.

17. It takes longer for them to putt out than to get to the green. And they laugh about it!!

18. At water hazards, they lament having forgotten their scuba gear.

19. They have lots of golf gadgets real golfers sneer at; such as distance finders, fancy tees, chain saws...

20. They push their pull cart while making motorcycle noises with their mouth.

21. They pick clubs based on their lucky numbers.

22. No putt is a gimme.

23. They wear the glove on the wrong hand.

24. They wear thongs... sorry, flip flops. Thongs are something else entirely different now.

25. They leave their clubs behind everywhere. When I do it, it’s because I am focussed on my game. It’s usually a seven iron. I should buy shares in seven iron manufacturing facilities.

26. The surest way to tell they’re neophytes is that they never bring enough balls, and have to either borrow from more seasoned players, or stop playing. When Cupcake and I were newbies on our honeymoon (at golfing) we lost all our balls by the fourth hole. We swore next time we married, our gift registry would be at the Golf Depot.

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