equipment manufacturers are fond of tooting their own horns when their
equipment figures into a win on the PGA Tour. Their glowing press releases
touting the quality of their drivers, irons, wedges, shafts and balls used by
the winning pros carry the suggestion that all the seasoned professionals in
the field who did not win had simply not been using that piece of equipment.
hype even extends to accoutrements that have nothing to do with scoring, such
as FootJoy’s trumpeting that it’s been the
"undisputed number one shoe at golf’s oldest major" (the British Open) since
such records have been kept. I wonder who started keeping those records.
releases don’t even mention the name of the golfer who won the event. So you
read, for instance, that "UST’s Proforce
V2 Wins Wyndham Championship." The golfer hoisting the trophy is identified
onlyas a "PGA Tour Rookie of the Year candidate" who "earned his first PGA
victory...". It’s as if the human winner of the event
was there only to provide support and alignment for the piece of equipment that
actually claimed victory. Perhaps there’s even a photo somewhere of the winning
shaft leaning up against the trophy.From
the manufacturers’ perspective, it is
the arrow and not the Indian when it comes to winning.
to say, I’ve never read a press release entitled "UST’s Proforce V2 Misses Cut at Wyndham Championship."
don’t mean to single out the fine folks at UST. I can wrap their shafts around
a tree trunk as well as any other shaft maker’s. But if it’s us weekend
warriors for whom equipment makers are in business to attract, maybe their
releases should focus on ourperformences, rather than that of a touring pro. Maybe
Finally Finds Fairway at Sawgrass."
– Struggling through 15 holes of slices, duck hooks, topped drives,
skulls and duffs, Callaway’s FT-i driver finally found the fairway at the TPC’s
difficult 16th hole. "We believe the FT-i is the straightest,
most-forgiving driver on the market, in spite of what we saw here today," said
Art Vanderlay, vice-president for club misuse at Callaway. "Though
‘forgiveness’ was raised to New Testament proportions out there, we remain
confident that finding that fairway today was no fluke."
unique head design also provides flotation when flung into a lake or pond,
according to Vanderlay.
Retrieved Ball at Hammock Dunes."
COAST -Titleist’s Pro-V1 golf ball was found to be the ball most
retrieved from the deep woods at the Hammock Dunes Creek Course, according to a
recent survey there. "Most golfers traipsing into the marshes to retrieve their
wayward shots here are walking out with Pro-V1’s," says Bob Sacomano, Titleist’s
vice-president for bulk sales. "We are proud that the Pro-V1 remains the most
mishit and lost ball on the market."
Sinks 60-Footer For 102At Bay Hill
-- Odyssey’s White Hot HG putter found the break that had been missed in the
initial read, and rattled in the bottom of the cup on Bay Hill’s 18th
green to preserve a final round 102.
continue to be pleased that our HG multi-layer insert technology can overcome
even the most egregious putting strokes to produce scores much lower than they
deserve to be," says A.G. Pennypacker, group director for offline putting at
1990, Odyssey has been putting putters in the hands of thousands of golfers who
have no clue. "Frankly, after reviewing the ‘reads’ of hundreds of hackers
across the country," says Pennypacker, "we’re frankly amazed more of these
people haven’t walked off cliffs so devoid they seem of any sense of
finally this snippet:
FootJoy: The Undisputed Number One Shoe in the Grill Room at
Miami’s Miccosukee Golf and Country Club.
the real news in golf equipment, for me anyway, is not about how the practice
and skill of the professional player can make equipment sing like a violin or
perform like a surgical tool. In that case it’s more about not letting the
equipment hinder the skill of the professional.
releases should read more like, New Nike
Driver Does Not Get In The Way of Watney’s Win at
Doral, or something like that. No, the
real news is about this certain player that can take a driver resolutely
designed and weighted to produce a solid draw, but still mange to hit a banana
slice that would make a gorilla’s mouth water.
I understand the game. Equipment makers have to sell you on the fact that it is
ultimately the arrow. But I got to tell you, with these Indians out here, those
arrows had better be made of rubber.
I rarely break 90 when I
play golf. And yet, the only time I enjoy myself on the golf course is when I
do. In short I have a Misery Index that’s through the roof. Which begs the
question: Why do I torture myself like this?
It’s a good question, one my
wife has also framed for herself, especially when periodically evaluating our
marriage, an analysis that curiously coincides with my many tee times. But
while her ruminations on the question rarely produces a cogent conclusion (for
her), my answers regarding golf are quite rational: It is well within my theoretical
ability to shoot respectable scores in the 80’s every time I play –
provided you suspend disbelief and accept that the game I can imagine myself
playing is the actual one.
My usual round of golf consists
not of one round but three. The first is the one I actually play – the
one where I generally chop my way to a 90–something. The second is the
one I play on the way home from the course, where I can clearly envision that
pair of sevens and the numerous sixes I carded all reduced now by just one
out-of-character swing that shouldn’t have happened. (This review is accomplished
in the privacy of my car, mind you. I’m not one of those boorish 19th-holers
who bray, "Well, it was a 94, but it could have been a 78.")
But it’s the round I begin to
replay at about three in the morning where my true hidden proficiencies really
shine. A warm feeling of contentment suddenly replaces the night terrors that
had awakened me, as I am once again on the first tee, this time sending a
gentle draw rising through the atmosphere, and getting me off to the round of
As I lay awake (counting
strokes, not sheep) I see how easy I could have recorded par after par, by merely
maintaining that same simple take away and follow through that seems so easy
when staring at a bedroom ceiling. No sevens or even sixes are marked here, as
my approach shots all have a consistency that no longer seems so elusive as on
the course. As we all know, greens-in-regulation are the key to low rounds, and
in my pajamas I am suddenly the King of GIR. I make the turn in 38 (still ever
the realist!) and proceed to the back nine, where I eventually find myself
beginning to leak oil on that stretch of holes that has so often been the death
march of a decent real round. In my
bed, I go bogey, bogey, bogey and realize now, at nine over, I have to really
bear down on the final three holes if I want to save this thing.
I puff up the pillows, toss the
covers off my torso, and steel myself for the difficult task ahead. The par
three 16threquires a
simple, straight-out tee ball, that I often pull hook into the weeds for a double.
Even in my imaginary replay round on the way home, I managed only a bogey. But
now, eyes on the prize, and only my wife’s melodic (in case she reads this)
snoring to distract me, I manage to lace a
4-iron to within two feet of the cup. Birdie!
I’m now eight over with two holes to play. If I can peer hard enough into my
bedroom’s yawning darkness and imagine just one more birdie and a par finish,
I’ll break 80!
No time for sleeping now. I
tee it up for the 17th , a par five with definite birdie potential. Imagining
the water that is all down the right side, I am suddenly reminded of my normal
2:30 a.m. bathroom visit that’s now an hour late. I pretend the bathroom is a
tree to maintain presence in the moment, and then return to bed and step up to
the tee. I play my tee shot conservatively down the left side, and then pop a medium
iron leftwards (to avoid the water once again) to about a hundred yards out. I
hit the sweetest wedge of the day (or middle of the night) to within 8 feet. I
know how the putt breaks from missing it so many times on the real green, so
this time I add a little more borrow and find the bottom of the cup.
The 18th is a
long, treacherous par four that I rarely can manage bogey, even on the mental
round on the way home. Restive from sleep deprivation now, I willingly take the
risk/reward carry over the bulrushes, which shortens the hole considerably,
allowing a trusty 5-iron into the green, instead of the usual balky 5-metal. I’m
15 feet away from an incredible birdie and a 78, but nerves (and a sudden,
gasping snort from my wife) cause me to overcook the birdie putt, and then I
miss the little knee-knocking comebacker and the 79 is gone as well. Tough
break to falter like that after such a well-imagined round, but that’s, uh,
At least the way I imagine
it to be.
"How’d you shoot yesterday
by the way," my wife asks after awakening from what she says was a "troubled
sleep." I answer without a trace of self-deception: "Well, it was a 94, but it could
have been a 78."
Reid Champagne clearly has
one of those minds that wouldn’t be such a terrible thing to waste.
Tiger Woods said a few years
ago that he wanted "to own his golf swing the way he believes only Ben Hogan
and Moe Norman owned theirs." He might be looking to fire sale it now, but I know
something: I own my golf swing, and I can tell you ownership is one big
stinking headache. Owning my golf
swing is a lot like owning an old beater that leaks oil like a sieve. Which
I obtained title to my golf
swing at some point in my teens, as near as I can remember. It wasn’t a
customized swing. Looking at how it’s performed over the years, I think I may
have actually purchased it at one of those "Everything’s A Dollar" emporiums, along
with three cans of generic chili that were taped together for another buck.
It’s the kind of a swing
that when friends or instructors take a look at it, say to me: "When are you
going to get rid of that wreck?" But I hold onto it, through round after round
of 90-somethings, like a comfortable old shirt filled with chili stains that I
just can’t seem to part with, though my regular club now insists I have to wear
a sweater over that shirt.
The swing wasn’t much to
look at, for sure, when I bought it – more like a "fixer-upper" that had
been previously owned by a cantankerous old recluse that kept stray cats and
never cleaned up. But it was my swing, and along with the "Johnny Revolta"
signature set of woods and irons that I believed were sold exclusively through
Unclaimed Freight outlets, and a pair of equally inexpensive water resistant
golf shoes, (to which, in fact, water, even dew, seemed to be intimately drawn
to my socks), I strode confidently out to the local public links to make my
mark in the game.
More than 40 years later,
those shoes and clubs are long gone, but that swing remains firmly within my
grip. After so many years, it’s just tough to let go. There’s so many memories
attached to that swing; it would probably take a shoe bag full of
anti-depressants to part with any of them. (There’s that almost metaphysical recollection
of the time I led a two-day tournament with an opening 86, needing only, as it
turned out, a 102 in the second round to win my flight. Instead, "The Swing and
I" carved a smooth 107 on a windless and perfect day for golf. You simply can’t
buy experiences like that, unless you do own
your own golf swing like Tiger wants to do.
Funny thing about it, there
are times when I don’t feel I own my golf swing, times when I wind up shooting
a respectable round. Recently, I opened up a round on a very demanding local
course with three consecutive GIR’s (a possible fourth dribbling to rest on the
collar of the 4th green). Evidently, while it’s possible to own a
bad golf swing, it appears possible to occasionally rent a good one (like when
you travel, and you park your oil-spewing beater at the airport and rent a
Hertz upon arrival at your destination). My golfing buddy that day said,
"Where’s this coming from?" (in much the same way my friends ask when I show up
in that Hertz.) I just shrugged back at him, and then proceeded to three-putt
all three of those greens. Someday, I should tell you about the putting stroke
I apparently bought at a garage sale in a 55+ community.
What I actually own, of
course, is not a golf swing, but what could better be termed a Golf Ball
Dispersing Device. You know, like those canisters at sporting events that
launch promotional goo-gahs to the fans in the upper deck. In fact, golf ball manufacturers
would be smart to license my swing (yeah, right) and shrink-wrap it to every
box of balls they sell, as a special free bonus.
Which gives me an idea.
Maybe I could sell my swing myself on one of those "But wait there’s more!"
Ronco-type ads on TV. I could offer my Golf Ball Dispersal Device, sprucing it up
for TV as the Amazing Golf Ball
"But wait, there’s more! If
you order during this TV ad, we’ll throw in the Amazing Putting Stroke ABSOUTELY FREE. And if you’re not completely
satisfied (or thoroughly disgusted) return it within 30 days, but keep the Amazing Putting Stroke as our gift.
Care to try my product,
The question I should ask my
tax accountant one day (who could just be the kid at the bag drop of my home
course, the one who points to my shirt, reminding me about the sweater, and to
put a piece of cardboard under my car’s engine block after I park it) is do I
have to report my golf swing to the IRS – and if so, can I claim it as a
Reid Champagne’s golf shots can be found all over
Newark, DE, as well as the occasional local fairway.
They say history is written
by the winners. I suppose that’s true. Had the English defeated the Continental
Army, I’m sure that today men like Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams and
Jefferson would be written of merely as "insurgents," terrorists" and
I would think the writing of
golf history would follow the same path; namely, it’s written by the people who
were successful at it. What about the hackers and the chops, all those high-handicappers
who just couldn’t get the hang of the game? What about golf history as seen through
the eyes of the guys and gals who have, throughout the ages, hit it 200 yards
sideways? I think the history of that
grand game might look something like this:
King James II of Scotland bans the playing of golf, because it is distracting his
subjects from their archery practice. Actually, his subjects were, in fact,
continuing their archery practice, along with their golf playing. The King
simply noticed all the archers’ arrows flying off to the right, and blamed their
golf swings the inaccuracy.
King James III of Scotland reaffirms the ban on golf, after carding a snowman on his
King James IV of Scotland again re-affirms the ban on golf, after knocking his tee
shot into the Firth of Forth three consecutive times on his home course.
King James VI of Scotland repeals the ban on golf after making an ace on the third
hole of his home course.
Queen Catherine of England writes to Cardinal
Wolsey referring to the growing popularity of golf, and how she never seems
to see the King anymore, and when she does he’s wreaking of cigar smoke and
Bloody Marys. Wolsey concludes that
the Queen is the first golf widow in England.
Mary Queen of Scots is criticized for playing golf just a day after the murder of her
husband. She stands in solemn silence on the 4th tee as the King’s
funeral cortŹge rides by. Her consort praises the queen for her respect for the
dead, and the Queen replies, "It’s the least I could do. I was married to him
for 20 years," thus recording history’s first golf joke.
Earliest known reference to
a set of clubs being made specifically for an individual golfer, in this case King James VI of Scotland. Later that year,
the King is the first individual to blame his clubs for his poor play.
King James VI appoints William Mayne as
the "royal clubmaker." Later, the King shoots 103 with his new clubs and orders
a new set, and then another one after his continued failure to break 100. His
scoring woes continue throughout the season.
King James VI orders the royal clubmaker beheaded.
receives a license as ball-maker for Aberdeen, Scotland. His architect brother James designs course featuring water in
play on more than a dozen holes, and brother John becomes a millionaire.
St. Andrews converts its
links from 22 holes to 18 holes, but members continue to tell their wives the
course is still 22 holes long, and that’s why they’re late to home.
plays the St. Andrews course in 94 strokes, a record that will stand for nearly
a century, making thousands of 20-plus handicappers today wish they’d been born
200 years earlier.
The Golf House at Leith is
erected. It is the first clubhouse. Prices for featheries in the pro shop are
ten times what Dickson is selling
Mowers for cutting golf
course grass are manufactured, but many courses still use sheep to keep the
grass from getting too high. One course straps drinks and snacks to the back of
one of its sheep, making the sheep the first beverage cart in golf history.
Course shepherdess Edwinna is subjected
to sexually suggestive taunts throughout the day.
The gutta percha ball is
introduced by the Rev. Roger Paterson.
It flies farther and costs less than the featherie. The pro shop at Leith marks
the "guttie" up to be twice as expensive as the featheries.
St. Andrews issues new rules
of golf, stipulating as the first rule that one round consists of 18 holes.
Members tell wives the new rule is a "typo," and a round is till 22 holes long,
and that’s why they’re late to home.
Also, Allan Robertson shoots a 79 on the Old Course, and is the first
person to break 80. In the press story, James
Durham is believed to be the first golfer referred to as a "hacker."
wins first British Open Golf Championship at Prestwick, beating seven players
who played three rounds of 12 holes each. Members of St. Andrews attending the
tournament tell their wives the tournament consists of three rounds of 22 holes
each, and that’s why they’re late to home.
Rules of entry for the British
Open change so that amateurs can compete as well as professional. It is the earliest
known reference to the term "sandbagging."
First hole-in-one is recorded by Young Tom Morris. Upon seeing the ball disappear into the
hole, he blurts: "The drinks are on me!"
Young Tom Morris drafts first document covering hole-in-one insurance.
Thousands of hackers who’ve
been telling themselves, "I am Tiger
Woods," suddenly are.
Reid Champagne continues
to spurn basic research in Newark, Delaware.
As the new season
approaches, I have been focusing on what I need to do to get better this year.That is the goal for all of us,
right?Having a plan for how to
improve is critically important to achieving results.Without a plan, you run the risk of
wasted effort during your practice or playing sessions.So here goes:
1) Practice With a
Purpose: Make practice time
count.It is easy to lose focus
when you are just beating balls at the range.Never hit a practice shot without
thinking about what you want to accomplish with that shot.Pick a target, identify the distance,
check your alignment, and evaluate the results.
2) Develop a Consistent
Pre-Shot Routine And Stick To It:We have all felt pressure on the golf course:standing on the first tee with a group
of people watching, grinding to win a hole and collect a $15 Nassau, or maybe
playing the last few holes with a chance to qualify for the Club
Whatever the source,
pressure on the golf course can alter the mechanics of your swing and cause an
errant shot when you can least afford it.The anecdote?Routine and
repetition.Doing something the
same way over and over again builds confidence and establishes a routine that
will allow you to repeat a quality swing over and over again when it counts.
This process begins before
the shot.Annika Sorenstam just
wrote a great post for her Golf Academy where she noted the importance of focus
and a consistent pre-shot routine and explained that at the height of her
career her pre-shot routine was exactly 24 seconds long.That precision is stunning. Find a routine that is comfortable for
you and practice it.
3) W-I-N:Lou Holtz recently did a spot on the
Golf Channel and one of his themes was how important it was to W-I-N –
for Holtz this meant focusing on "What’s Important Now."
Great golfers all have one
thing in common:a short
memory.We all get stuck dwelling
on a bad shot and we let it ruin our next three shots.Try a different approach.After you hit your shot – good or
bad – shift your focus to "What’s Important Now" and you will realize
that the answer is simply the next shot.There is nothing you can do to get the last shot back.You need to worry about what you can
control – the shot that comes next.
4) Be Better From 100
Yards and In:If you think hard
about where you lose the most shots, it’s probably from within 100 yards of the
green. I have always battled my wedges, and this is the year I am dedicated to
getting better.I am locked and
loaded with some new Vokey wedges and a new
attitude.I want to get to the
point that when I am holding a wedge in my hand, I am looking at it as an
opportunity to make birdie instead of thinking about trying not to screw up my
5) 31 Putts or Fewer
Each Round:We’ve all heard the
saying, "Drive for show, putt for dough."Fewer putts equal lower scores; it’s as simple as that.I wanted to set a realistic goal for the
number of putts that will give me the best chance of breaking 80, and it was
31.Set a goal for yourself and track
your progress.If you are
consistently hitting your goal, then drop it by two shots – keep
Ryan Becker, a Philadelphia native, is an avid
golfer who currently has an 8.5 handicap. A graduate of the University of
Notre Dame and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Becker works as an attorney in New York City. His blog is A Healthy Golf Obsession.
We begin to show up in
places such as Florida or South Carolina as early as November. Our numbers peak
in February and March, and then taper off again by the end of April. We come
from all parts of the frozen north, from Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware
-- even Canada.
Unlike many natural
migrations that can create problems for some communities, this one is
considered a boon and a blessing for the local economy. (It is only the
breakfast waitresses who may complain, but only because they’ve heard, "Hey,
sweetie, are your legs tired, because you’ve been running though my mind all
night," virtually every morning for six straight months.)
I am, of course, referring
to the migration of my fellow Great Northern Snowbirds, in this case, that
particular species, whose long, harsh winters include routing putting courses
through their living and dining rooms, and watching reruns of the Nationwide
Tour on the Golf Channel. Like a young man’s fancy in spring, each winter the
fancy of many of these Great Northerns turns – not
to love, necessarily (although such migrations have been known to include a lap
dance or two) – but to southern destinations, for sure.
But here’s the thing: It’s
not the actual going that gets us Snowbirds to take wing, but the
"planning" (actually, just a series of weekend poker games) that can go on for
months prior to the actual trip.
Before that, though, is the
previous year’s trip’s ceremonial "Days of Recollections" – a kind of
Lenten reflection on all that had gone on during that last trip (actually, just
another series of weekend poker games), replete with testimonials, memoirs,
reenactments, and finally collapsing upon a litany of insincere apologies,
shallow assurances "never to do anything like that again" and maybe even a lone
sobriety pledge that no one believes even for a minute. Only then can next
year’s preparations properly get underway, since it’s last year’s moral decay
that is the taproot for the coming year’s anticipated depravities.
(Incidentally, no planning
can be considered complete without at least one wink-and-a-nod conspiracy that
involves something along the lines of cans of shaving cream, duct tape and a
digital camera suitable for flooding the Internet with j-pegs of fathers caught
in the act of being their own children.
I wanted to reveal some of
these behavioral instincts of my fellow Snowbirds, because I want to let all
you julep-sipping course owners in on a little secret. You know all that
trouble you put your superintendents through to grow rye grass that stays green
in the winter, as the Bermuda turns brown? And you wind up with those surreal
courses that look like a mixture of spinach surrounded by Cream of Wheat? I can
promise you, it doesn’t matter to most of us whether your courses are green,
brown, yellow or blue. Our whole thing, you see, is simply to be able to run
around in shorts in February somewhere. You could paint Wal-Mart parking lots
green and rename them The Del Boca Vista Golf and Tennis Club, and we’d still
The most obsessive of us
wait for a howling snowstorm to blow through our town. We turn up the Weather
Channel real loud to hear the blizzard warnings and school closings, and then
we take our suitcases, which have been part-packed for as many as three months
prior to our golf trip, and unpack them. We lay several pairs of shorts and
Cool-Max golf shirts on the bed, look at the snow blowing sideways outside our
window, and then back at the shorts and the shirts, and then the window, and
then the shorts and back out the window again...
Well, you get the idea. All the
South ever has to be for us is warm. You needn’t waste precious resources on
island greens, sculpted fairways, flash-faced bunkering and shimmering man-made
lakes. Just keep it somewhere between 65 and 75, preferably dry, but we’ll even
take some warm rain, if necessary. But it’s wearing shorts and shirtsleeves in winter
that pulls us toward the moss and spreading oaks each and every year.
Now I may be exaggerating
here a bit – maybe you couldn’t get away with painting a Wal-Mart parking
lot green and calling it... you know; but I’m not exaggerating by as much as you
think. Fact is most of our golf games don’t travel well. Our 14 handicaps have
been generally honed to a smooth (though partially indictable) finish by playing
our home course four days a week, and consequently knowing where all the
sandbagging opportunities lay. (For instance, we always know here at home to
double the bet at the forced carry on the back nine that is just a stinkweed
longer than Big Al’s banana slice can usually carry.)
But get us to a strange
course with new twists and turns, and bunkers you can’t simply putt out of like
the ones back on the home course, and we soon realize that just breaking 100 is
a worthy challenge. So you’ll hear most of us saying after that first day, "I
really don’t care what I’m shooting; I’m just glad to be playing golf in shorts
this time of year."
Oh, yes. That’s the other
remark the breakfast waitresses may get tired of hearing, too, by the end of
Reid Champagne still occasionally migrates
from his summer feeding grounds in
Florida happens to be both the golf capital and the cigar capital of the United
States is a happy coincidence. A coincidence because cigar making came to the
state when a few enterprising Cubans figured out that making handmade Havana
cigars in Florida was a better marketing ploy than selling handmade Florida
cigars in Havana.And then golf
came to Florida when a few enterprising land developers realized submerged swampland
could be sold as "forced carries" and "natural settings" to a nation with
plenty of money and a limited understanding of drainage.
the coincidence of golf and cigars here is a happy one, because nothing seems
to say "recreational activity" quite like the sight of a deeply tanned, almost
manatee-like endomorph, occupying slightly more than half of a golf cart,
decked out in colors never before seen in a rainbow, with two-toned shoes and a
panama hat straight out of an action adventure set in pre-Castro Cuba, flanked
by a pair of Bloody Mary’s and puffing on an Arturo Fuentes the size of a SCUD
first Cohiba was rolled in Tampa’s historic Ybor City district sometime in the
1880’s. Florida’s first golf course was built in Palm Beach in 1896. The first
golf victory cigar was no doubt lit on that course when two railroad chiselers
won a $5 Nassau from two land development swindlers, which produced yet another
happy coincidence: Connecting resort hotels and railways in a way to get
Florida vacationers to their destinations without the subtle risk of slipping
away into quicksand en route.
chomping a Don Capitano hasn’t seemed to have caught on with golf’s
professional tours (try to imagine Steve Williams handing Tiger his putter and
a smoldering Monte Cristo at the same time), most of today’s well-stocked pro
shops now include at least a counter humidor filled with a variety of Churchills, Presidentes and Robustos, and all, incidentally, robustly marked up to make
that $120 logoed golf shirt seem like a bargain by comparison.
our typical hacker needs a jolt of confidence to polish the rough edges of a $2,000
set of clubs. And nothing says confidence like a fine hand rolled cigar lit at
that precise moment when a preposterously improbable series of swing flaws converge
with the frequency of a Transit of Venus to produce a striped, 250-yard drive
down the middle of that first fairway. And soon, it will be those puffs of
signal smoke from that Cuesta-Rey that will help the other members of the
foursome locate their lost lamb amidst the thick woods where his shanked second
shot has now sent him.
seems that a blunt wedged between the blunt digits of our average weekend
warrior imparts a lasting swagger that neither titanium, cavity backs, offset
hosels or graphite can sustain. Lighting up after a series of caroms off trees,
skips through ponds, fortuitous plinks off decorative stone or railroad ties that
produced our beloved chop’s first ever 89 suggests the very epitome of success
and triumph. Stoking that victory stogey is a well-deserved act of celebration
to a round that could otherwise be described as a poorly-coordinated train
wreck. Instead, that Torpedo says, "I win!" for a round that more truthfully
shrieks, "You suck!"
ritual of cigar smoking quite compatibly follows the ritual of shotmaking.
There is that whole pre-smoke routine: unwrapping the cellophane, moistening
the cigar’s outer wrapper by rolling it around in your mouth, borrowing and
then clipping the end with a cigar cutter based on an 18th century
French death penalty solution, firing up with a specially crafted (and priced) butane
lighter possessing the thrust of a Shuttle launch and then, at long last,
puffing to get a good glow that turns out to cover about a third of the end,
and burns out by the time you find your tee shot in the woods a few minutes
later. It all consumes about the same amount of time it takes Big Al to ponder,
select a club, ponder some more, waggle, take three practice swings and then
address before ultimately hitting a 50-yard topper into the creek he had (much)
earlier played safely short of.
choosing the right cigar for golf can be as important as choosing the right
club, especially for those players who - to slightly paraphrase Peter Aliss -
are "great sprayers of the ball."
bigger the cigar the easier it is to find, especially when placed amidst a
thick patch of sawgrass, coleus and poison oak, after your ambitious recovery
shot from deep within the woods, failed to negotiate either the stand of sabal
palms, mangrove swamp, waste bunker, pond and bulkhead, all of which stood
between your ball and the green - a shot you just knew you had the game
for, even after the more typical 165-yard banana slice that got you into this
predicament in the first place.
finally, what better way to judiciously interrupt the windbag telling how his
104 could just as easily have been an 82 if he just could have made a few putts
and caught a few breaks like the one off the cart shed roof that saved a bogey,
by suddenly saying, "Dang, I think I left my tee-gar on that hole."
puffs and pouts from his home base in Newark, Del.