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After Work: Is Golf Fun?

An article in Wikipedia describes errant golf shots. There are more than forty lines of colorful terms which include duck hooks, worm burners, banana balls, chili dips and the ever-feared yips.

“I know and can execute these shots well,’’ declares Dona Gibbs in a column which is hilarious enough to make a wooden tiger laugh.. “That’s my kind of golf.’’

For more of Dona’s sparkling words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Marty, my husband-- an otherwise normal man-- is insanely in love with golf.

I am not but I am insanely in love with Marty. So for several of the winter months we now live in Florida--on a golf course. There’s a daily parade of golfers outside our windows. They clunk, scull, slice and hook. And they call it a good time.

They’re out there in 90-degree heat. Men in shorts and baseball caps look like so many overgrown boys at camp. And when they reach in their pockets for a ball marker I wonder if their milk money might spill out as well.

They’re out there in 55 degrees too, but this being Florida, they bundle up in jackets and sweaters against what passes for cold.

Golfers. They’re fun to watch. At a distance.

I-- against my better judgment-- have been drawn into the game.

An urban legend goes that “golf” was an acronym for “ Gentlemen Only, Ladies Prohibited” That would be okay with me, except for the whole gender discrimination aspect, of course.

Anyway I do attempt to play. I have had lesson after lesson. I’ve even been to a couple of golf schools for women. I’ve even stood hitting shot after shot from a bunker while the wind whipped sleet across the Carolina sand hills.

I’ve learned a lot. But I just can’t put it into practice.

A glance at Wikipedia gives some evidence that I’m not alone. The article on golf devotes a little over 24 lines briefly describing various kinds of golf shots needed to make it around the course—drive, pitch, chip, and putt for example and other slightly more esoteric shots like the punch and the flop.

The article then goes on to describe errant shots—my kind of golf. That description runs to over forty lines. Here the descriptions are colorful. Even if you’re not a golfer you can picture what duck hooks, worm burners, banana balls, chili dips and the ever-feared yips might be. I know and can execute these shots well. That’s my kind of golf.

I’ve got another problem with golf. The clothes. Once any woman over the age of thirty pulls on Bermuda shots that fetchingly sets off wrinkled knee caps and broadens hips by three inches or so, tucks in a boxy shirt and claps on a baseball cap, she’s turned herself into a cartoon just waiting for a caption.

As a girl, I was taught, “Try, and try again.” “Practice makes perfect,” my music teacher said. “You can do it,” my father encouraged me. “Let’s do that over,” my mother might comment looking an uneven row of stitches.

And when I followed their advice, I succeeded.

The golf pro says, “Grip down.” “Cock you wrists.” “Don’t cock your wrists.” “Square the club face.”

And I try hard to follow his advice, which by the way doesn’t come cheap.

The harder I try, the worse I play. I step up to the ball. Unbidden, my shoulders hunch up with tension, grazing my ears. Since I’ve now raised my hands a couple of inches since I’ve set up, the club strikes the ball above the middle. That’s what you call a scull.

Next shot, I vow not to make the same mistake. And I don’t. This time I hit behind the ball. That’s called hitting it fat. It hurts--not only my score. A pain shoots up my arm to my shoulder.

The French, Dutch and Scots all claim to have invented golf. Recently Professor Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University claims that a version of golf was played in China some 500 years before the 1672 Scottish course of Musselburg Old Links. In my opinion they can all share equally in the blame.

Golf Digest reports there are 32,000 golf courses in the world with over half of them in the United States. In the mid 1980s, according to Wikipedia, the People’s Republic of China opened the first golf course (the first since the Southern Tang Dynasty, of course). In 2005 there were 200.

I read that in Coober Pedy, Australia, there’s a nine-hole course dug into mounds of sand clumped with diesel with not a blade of grass or tree to be found. Players carry a piece of Astroturf with them to tee up. Fun, huh?

The Wikipedia article says , “Golf is enjoyed by 26 million Americans.”

“Enjoy”?

In my case ‘enjoy” is an overstatement. I’d go into the “Endure” category.

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