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In Honor of the Masters-Some Thoughts on Golf & Guys & Favorite Golf Quotes

Several weeks ago I played golf with several friends for the first time in years and I remembered all the things I love about the sport. There is really nothing quite like it. But, if you are one of those people who take golf seriously [one of those guys who define themselves by their handicap- "I'm a four"], then please just stop reading this right now. Why? Because the day that you realize that you will not be great [or even especially good] at golf is the most liberating day in your life.

I took lessons when I was a kid so that I could play with my father who was a politician and often played with County Commissioners, Congressmen, and assorted other major and minor public luminaries. When I played with them, I felt every shot was being critiqued.....harshly. There is nothing quite like dragging the entire legislative body of your community into an adjoining fairway after you have sliced your drive within inches of one of their most generous donors.

Over the years, I ditched the driver, teed off with irons and developed what I like to call my "safe game". Safe in the sense that I didn't cause anyone permanent brain damage. Generally the goal was to remain within one fairway and take the most direct route from the tee to the hole. I settled into my safe and far less embarrassing golf game for years but didn't get much joy from the sport.

But its when I played recently that I realized that golf could be so amazing when you stop looking at it any any sort of sporting competition and instead as an opportunity to abandon most of civilization's most stifling injunctions. For instance, who knew that all those pockets in a golf bag were designed to comfortably fit a 12-pack and a bottle of tequila? We adjusted the rules some so that whoever had the highest score on the last hole [generally me] had to do a double shot prior to teeing off on the next. Four holes and a six-pack later and we were gleefully wading into ponds searching for lost golf-balls, telling jokes that would make a merchant seaman cringe and lustfully evacuating our bladders, and scaring the wildlife, in the small patches of woods along the fairways.

At some point counting strokes became an afterthought and for some reason, that eludes me now, I decided to pull my long-neglected driver from my bag. On the 17th tee I did my obligatory tequila shot, took some practice swings with the driver and imagined a perfect tee-shot up the middle of the par-five fairway. The actual result was far different, however. I hooked the shot off a tree to our left and the ball caromed off two more trees before landing on the 16th green [yes, the 16th] and rolling four feet from the hole....a hole at which two well dressed [meaning wearing bright red polyester pants] and quite serious golfers were lining up their shots for par. I winced, and turned to see my comrades laughing so hard they were spitting out beer on the golf cart and all they could say was, "taking a mulligan on that one Don? Mulligans! God, I had forgotten all about Mulligans. Another reason to love golf!

Favorite quotes on Golf:

He who has the fastest golf cart never has a bad lie. Mickey Mantle

Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose. Woodrow Wilson

Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing. Dave Barry

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