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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

48 Million People Can Be Horribly, Horribly Wrong

The blog that launched a thousand ships of fools

I golfed today.

Well, that’s not entirely true, I suppose. I did go to a golf course this afternoon, and I did put on funny-looking shoes (sans tassels, though — I do have some dignity), and I did lug a bunch of metal sticks around and use them as weapons to fend off small, white, dimply balls.

(As much as I’d like to make a joke here about someone’s small, white, dimply balls, I’m just not sure that it’s a good idea. First of all, it’s kinda gross, and secondly, it’s a little bit off-topic (as usual). But mainly, it’s because I’m really only familiar with a limited set of balls, regardless of their relative size, paleness, or dimplosity, and so I can’t be entirely sure that the ‘someone’ in question wouldn’t end up being me. And I already have plenty of people available to ridicule me without joining the fray myself, thank you very much.)

Pressing on — the point is that while much of my activity this afternoon may have appeared — to the uninitated observer, at least — to resemble golf in many ways, I’m pretty sure that the fine Scottish gents who invented the game a few years back would run doughnuts around their graves if I were to actually call it golf. Because I suck hairy lemons when it comes to golf, and there doesn’t seem to be much that I can do about it, unless Arnold Palmer will bequeath me his ‘mad skillz’ upon his death.

(Which he won’t, the lousy fart. I’m getting a summer cottage and two of his cars, and that’s all the old coot will pony up. Bastard.)

Now, perhaps I should pause here for a tick. I don’t want to lose anyone, after all, and I’m not sure how familiar you are with golf. Some people can wax poetic about the sports’ giants and legends, while others don’t know the first thing about golf.

(Well, that’s not true. Everyone knows the very first thing about golf, which is that it’s wrenchingly boring to hear about, read about, watch on television, listen to on the radio, think about, dream about, practice, teach, or actually play. That much is common knowledge, of course. So just assume that there are folks out there who don’t know the second thing about golf.

(Which, by the way, is ‘keep your head down’, the most obvious, inane piece of advice that you can actually offer to someone who’s attempting to hit something that’s on the ground. And it’s all downhill from there.)

Anyway, those folks — the ‘uninitiated’ — are the people I’m trying to get up to speed here. If you know a slice from a fade, and your putter from your mashie, then you can probably skip a couple of paragraphs. You already know everything that I’m about to say.)

So, in the interest of getting you folks who haven’t tried golf, or who don’t watch golf, or hate golf, or have some other sane attitude about the game, on board with the rest of us, I’d like to offer you a brief description of golf that will help you converse with the poor bastards who don’t share your opinions on the matter. I hope that you’ll find something useful here, or interesting, or at least tickly in some pseudo-erotic way. Whatever. But most of all, I hope that you’ll latch on to the thing that I think that you need to remember, the take-home message, the One Important Point™, which is: You’re right, of course. Golf is a ghoulish, demonic nightmare. It’s mind-numbing to watch and maddening to play. Becoming a ‘golfer’ requires countless hours, specialized equipment, and bargeloads of money. It also involves the near-criminal neglect of profession, spouse, children, friends, responsibilites, and — in the most extreme cases — hygeine. And to be a ‘good golfer’, you need to… well, fine, I really have no idea what you have to do to become a good golfer, but I bet it’s excruciatingly long and terribly painful. Like a colonoscope, or a PBS miniseries. All of which is to say, your initial instinct is correct — forget about golf forever, save what I’m about to explain, and sleep long and well knowing that ‘golf’ is just one more wacky brainwashing cult that you’re not going to join in your lifetime. And to keep you on the right path, I now present Everything You Need to Know About Golf Until You’re Dead:

Golf has been around for a long, long time. It hasn’t changed very much since it was invented, which tells you right away that there’s something wrong with it. We don’t practice bloodletting in medicine any more, and sailors don’t worry about falling off the edge of the world, but golfers still follow pretty much the same rules that were used in caveman times. The biggest difference these days is that all the clothing has a Nike swoosh on it, and the balls and clubs require a mortgage to buy. Everything else is just about like it’s always been.

The game of golf was invented in Scotland, and quickly exported around the globe. The actual origins of the game are shrouded in mystery, however. Some scholars believe that golf was a cruel trick perpetrated by the ancient Scotsmen on the rest of the world for making them wear those girly skirts for all those centuries. Others think that the Scots were trying to invent hockey, and took a wrong turn somewhere near the part about needing ice to play on. Finally, there are those who say that golf is simply an ill-conceived adaptation of the ancient game of Skee-Ball, and that the ‘clubs’ were introduced because Scotsmen are all about whacking things with sticks, and wouldn’t have been very interested otherwise.

And that’s pretty much all you need to know about the history of golf.

As for the game itself, golf is surprisingly barbaric for a ‘grandpa game’.

(Checkers and shuffleboard, for instance, are rather tame by comparison. Bird-feeding can be rather violent, of course, but most of that involves strangling pigeons, which can only be seen as a Good Thing™.)

To see the true nature of golf, you must look at the game from the ball’s point of view. On each hole, the ball is brought out, perhaps rubbed or even kissed (for luck), and placed on a pedestal. After a short time in this blissful state, the ball is then thwacked as violently as possible with a hard metal stick. One of two things will then happen. If the ball has not done exactly what was intended, then the ball will be cursed and spat at, and then shwacked again, with increased gusto. If, however, the ball has done exactly as asked, it will be praised and appreciated, and then — of course — shmacked just as hard as last time, if not harder. Unless the ball develops the good sense to run the hell away into a forest or lake, the process will be repeated until the ball is irreparably damaged, at which point it will be discarded and replaced with another in short order. The whole experience is very similar to what I imagine dating Courtney Love would be like, without all the drugs and tattoos.

The basic rules of golf are pretty simple. Each golf course has eighteen holes; eighteen was chosen specifically because it doesn’t make a bit of damned sense in any numeric system (including binary, hex, decimal, etc.), and so it would be universally annoying to all the races of the world. The primary goal of golf — apart from fostering apoplectic seizures — is to dump the golf ball into the currently specified hole, using only a series of metal sticks (‘clubs’) and whatever obscenities are available in your repertiore. All of the other rules are just so much window dressing, and can be safely ignored or blatantly broken, particularly when nobody is watching. Scoring in golf is measured in ‘strokes’, which seems promising at first blush, but it turns out that more strokes is worse than less strokes, and that alone should tell you that there’s something terribly misguided about the whole endeavor.

Each hole on the golf course is designated a ‘par’ value — this is the number of strokes that Tiger Woods would need to complete the hole, if only he were just a little stronger, and cheated just a bit. The concept of par was invented to give the casual golfer an impossibly lofty goal to shoot for, thus mangling the golfer’s spirit and fostering a crippling, lifelong obsession with tackling this Herculean challenge. In the golf world, par is the perfect, pristine Cinderella, and we are all ugly, warty step-sisters, jealous and pouty and in dresses that make our asses look big.

Finally, to understand golf, you need to know that your only opponent, and therefore the only person you’re really hurting, is yourself. That’s the real evil genius behind golf — it’s now-you versus then-you, and you can’t win either way. Either you sucked then, or you suck now. More likely, as golf and inconsistency go together like pasties and G-strings, you flip-flop your sucking, depending on the weather, your mood, and how hungover you happen to be at the time. It’s best in the end to just decide that you suck before you start, get it over with, and go play Skee-Ball as the gods intended. Nearly 50 million people out there have been unable to take that important step and just ‘let it go’; I hope that now you’ll be able to succeed where they — right, we — have failed. Good luck, and godspeed.

So that’s all you really ever need to know about golf. And it’s all that I wish I knew about golf. But unfortunately, I was sucked in. I blame my father, you know. He’s a big golfer — yeah, he’s really in deep, and has been for years, I’m afraid. Some of my most vivid memories of my father involve golf in some way. Here, let’s just pick one at random, shall we? Something from childhood, maybe:

Dad (after another crappy shot of mine): Son, I think what you’re playing is called ‘military golf’.

Me (excited to learn new ‘official’ terminology): Gee, really, Dad? What’s ‘military golf’?

Dad: Well, son, it’s when you shoot the ball back and forth across the fairway, like you’re doing on this hole.

Me: Aw, shucks, Pop. I don’t get it.

Dad: ‘Military golf’. Left, right, left, right, left, right…

Me (deflated): Oh. I get it now. Hey, Dad?

Dad: Yes, son?

Me: Nobody likes a dickhead, Pop.

And… scene. Thank you, actors. Bravo! Please pick up your next scripts at the door; we’ll be working on material from the Screaming Tizzy in Fourth Grade, so please start working on your lines for next time. Thank you again.

So, I hope this has been instructive. If there’s just one person out there that I can save from this debilitating condition, then I’ll feel as though I’ve made a difference. If only one person reads this and turns their back on golf forever — well, okay, so only one person period reads this, so I’m not sure how good my chances are — then I’ll be able to sleep a little better at night. Not well, mind you, but better. No, to sleep well, I’d have to forget about that shank shot I hit on the 8th fairway, or the four-foot putt I missed for bogey on the 11th. Or the 6-iron I wrapped around the ball washer on the 15th tee, after dribbling my ball about as far as I could spit it. (But — thankfully — past the ladies’ tees. Those of you who play know what I’m talking about. Those of you who don’t… erm, just ask somebody who does, okay? Ask them what happens when their drive doesn’t reach the red tees… just don’t ask for a demonstration.) So, no, I’m not gonna sleep all that well for a while. I’ve got the disease, I’m afraid, and it plants a seed in my brain after every crappy, obscenity-laden round. It’s the delusion that ‘Next time, I’ll nail that putt’. Or ‘If I just hock my wife’s jewelry and buy those gold-plated platinum Pings, then next time, I’ll kick ass’. Or even, ‘Next time, I won’t swing like a six-year-old girl’. But they’re all lies. Dirty, stinkin’, rotten lies.

So that’s it — golf’s a curse, folks. Fear it. It’s too late for me, but you can still save yourselves. Run screaming from golf, and never look back. It’ll turn you into a drooling idiot (if this blog hasn’t done the job already) — and I’ve got the funny hats and Mickey Mouse head covers to prove it. So just say ‘no’, and lead a happy, loving, fulfilling life. In the meantime, I’ve gotta get to the driving range to try out my new driver. If I find out by Wednesday that it sucks, then I can still use the refund to get our wedding rings back. See you on the links!

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