In New Hampshire, our charities raise a lot of money by hosting summer golf tournaments. These are opportunities for many of us to get out in the pleasant summer climate, support a favorite cause and demonstrate our total incompetence at trying to hit a small white sphere with a big club.
Unfortunately, too many of us get upset at our inability to play this stupid game.
Because I want our charities to continue to make money from these fundraisers, and I want to minimize the stress level for our combatants, I wrote a piece called “Playing Charity Golf” which is included in my book Granite Grumblings, “Life in the Live Free or Die State” (Snap Screen Press, 2011).
I hope all of you who venture on the golf course two or three times a year for these events will learn from this.
Glenn K. Currie
Playing Charity Golf
I brought my golf clubs up from the basement this week. It’s July and my golf season is about to begin.
I don’t know why.
Every year I tell myself that I am not going to once again inflict upon my fragile psyche another season of pain and humiliation. But then these charity tournaments come along, and friends invite me to play in them. They do it so they can watch me make a fool of myself. This seems to give them pleasure.
I agree to this because I am a fine person who wants to help out some good causes…and because they usually have pretty good gift bags at these things. These gifts go to all participants, even me. The one problem with these little freebies is that most of them are golf-related, so I have to keep playing in order to use them. It’s a vicious circle, which I can’t seem to break.
Another attraction of these tournaments is that I almost never have to actually play my own horrible shots. As long as one person in the foursome hits a decent ball, everyone else can play from where he or she landed. This doesn’t really cut down on my lost balls, but at least I don’t have to spend as long looking for them.
I have noticed over the years that the “scramble” format has also encouraged other lousy golfers to stumble out onto the links. We are like a special fraternity of hackers. The golf pros at these courses would normally never let us near their precious tees and greens, but on this special day, they have no choice. And we pretty much tear the place up. We play from the wrong fairways, land on the wrong greens, bang balls off the roofs of the members’ course-side homes, and generally scare the hell out of the real golfers. And it all can be classified as a noble effort to support needy charities.
I also find it really amusing that, occasionally, we win the good prizes. Over the years, I have won three special awards for sinking the longest putt on a designated hole. In one typical case (pre-scramble format), I was lying six or seven by the time I got to the green, and I was on the outer edge because I had just blown an easy chip. I then proceeded to sink a sixty or seventy foot putt to save my eight…and, oh yes, win the prize. One of the nice things about winning this prize is that it is a real advantage to be bad. The closer your approach shot lands to the pin, the less likely you are to be in position to sink the longest putt.
I have never understood, however, why they give a putter to the winner. I have three putters from these things, two of them beautiful handmade jobs that I wouldn’t think of bringing on the course. Besides, my twenty year old Ping is the only thing in my bag that works. Why don’t they give us something we can use, like a ball retriever or a three wood…or a lesson on getting out of the sand?
Even hackers like myself, however, eventually pick up a few pieces of useful golf wisdom from our years of appearances at these tournaments. And while they are not of much value to the good golfers out there, I think they could be useful to any of you who are actually thinking of following in my footsteps and playing in some of these tournaments.
1) Put your gift bag in the car before the tournament actually starts. That way they won’t be able to confiscate it while you are still out on the course.
2) Be prepared for humiliation. You will always hit your worst shot when the most people are watching.
3) Golf balls are inherently cowards. They will invariably hide in the woods or tall grass in order to keep you from getting a clear shot at them. Water holes are a chance to exact your revenge on the ones that have performed the worst. Don’t yell “die sucker” too loud, however, if people are putting on a nearby green.
4) The faster your swing, the more time you will have to look for your ball.
5) Always take the short cut over the trees when faced with a sharp dogleg. You’re going in the woods anyway, so you might as well go out in style.
6) There will always be one guy in every foursome who points out that “it’s still your turn”, or “you didn’t make it to the ladies’ tee”. Disposing of him, preferably early in the round, is the only appropriate reason to ever remove your 3-iron from your bag.
7) Don’t waste your time figuring out if you have the right club for a particular shot. The chances of you hitting the ball properly are infinitesimal. And if you do hit it well, it will always be the wrong club. (This is humbly claimed as Currie’s Law).
8) Bring lots of rain gear and pray for a downpour. This will be your only chance to actually win a tournament. We once finished second in an event in which they had to stop play and draw numbers to determine a winner. We were about a hundred over par at the time.
9) Never read any books on golf. They will only confuse you. Go out there without any plan except to have a few beers at the earliest opportunity.
10) Don’t celebrate too wildly when you win the big raffle prizes at the post-tournament dinner. The real golfers all have bags full of potential weapons.