The best part of a golf round is the hour before you tee off.
It’s filled with anticipation, practice shots, and the temporary belief that you don’t completely suck. A great round of golf can act as a spiritual release, taking your mind somewhere else…or so I’ve been told.
When you think about it, the point of golf is to play the least amount possible. It’s a game of brutal misses, one so torturous that even suburban soccer dads are willing to cheat just to make themselves feel better.
Golf is a sick, twisted sport.
My father taught me how to play at a very early age, patiently schooling me on everything from course etiquette to proper swing technique. I learned more lessons from my dad on the golf course than I ever learned at Sunday school.
Granted, I also called my dad an asshole when I was four-years-old. Although I only learned that word because of Mrs. Doubtfire, I was also known for having quite the temper amongst the other junior golfers. But you know what they say: “what one man sees as anger, another man sees as an advantage.”
Actually, I just made that quote up. I have no idea if “they” (or anyone) has ever said it. Until me.
Anywho, I’m no Fred Couples when it comes to stroking the ball, but I know the rules of the game. I know how to survive any course. And most importantly, I know how to achieve victory over any opponent.
Or so I thought.
Last Sunday morning, I was supposed to play eighteen holes with my future father-in-law. We arrived at the course a half hour early and got some practice swings in. I was ready to dominate the course and leave it all out on the fairway.
Then the devil arrived.
Hole No. 1
We get to the tee box, hit our drives onto the fairway and ventured out for eighteen holes of mental bliss. But as we pulled up to our balls to take our second shot, a golf cart heading right for us caught my eye.
I prayed it was merely the course marshal telling us to keep carts on the sidewalks, but I was wrong.
What happened next can only be described as a golfer’s worse hell: a hop-on.
In golf, a ‘hop-on’ is somebody who goes to the golf course with every intention of playing golf. Whether it’s by himself or with a total stranger, he’s going to play all 18 holes and mark his ball before every single putt.
Unfortunately, golf courses never let a single go out during primetime hours, (i.e. this particular Sunday morning) so they’re forced to match up random singles with twosomes or threesomes in order to fill out groups and balance out the course.
From the moment he pulled up in his souped-up, personalized golf cart, I had a feeling that this particular ‘hop-on’ would not end well. And for the first time all day, I was right.
Say hello to Tom.
Tom pulls up and staunchly asks if he may join us. Take note: the marshal did not pair us with Tom. Tom paired himself with us.
Wearing white from head to toe and more jewelry than should ever be allowed on a golf course, Tom declined our offer to tee off and said he would meet us on the third hole.
He is the angriest, moodiest, slowest golfer I’ve ever had the displeasure of playing with. And yes, that includes the time I played with an actual hippo in South Africa.
Actually, I made that hippo story up. But can you imagine how cool it would be to play golf with a hippo? It would be a lot better than playing with Tom I can tell ya’ that.
Hole No. 2
We hit our approach shots around the green and head to our balls. As I start to analyze my next shot, Tom comes screeching around a corner onto the second tee box. After hollering at us from 200 yards away to get our attention (a definite course no-no), he swatted his shot into the bunker five feet away from where I was standing.
Next thing I know, Tom is standing next to me in that same bunker addressing his shot. Not a word has been said between the two of us yet. We both hit our shots and head up to the green to prepare our putts.
As we do so, Tom says something no golfer ever wants to hear from their playing partner: “I like to treat every round like a real tournament. So don’t mind if I putt out every hole.”
And if that wasn’t a sign of the nightmare to come, the joke Tom made walking off the second green certainly was.
“Why do lesbians only shop at Sports Authority?”
I said nothing.
Tom responded, “Because they hate being around dicks!”
Again, I said nothing and simply walked towards my cart without acknowledging Tom’s presence.
Hole No. 3
Walking up to the tee, Tom continues his spree of golf etiquette no-nos. Strange, seeing as he treats every round like a tournament.
Before anybody shoots, he asks each golfer for their score and etches them in his notebook like the guy from Taken in Schindler’s List. I still have no idea why would he be keeping our scores, but we tell him anyway.
He then responds with the order of who shoots first on the next hole – which is Tom himself because he scored a par on the last hole.
Hearing him explain his mastery of the course and how he’s played every day this summer, you would assume Tom is a very good golfer. Ironically, Tom was not a very good golfer.
His third tee shot sprang off the tee box and land into a questionable out-of-bounds area. “I saw it kick out I think,” Tom reassured us. “I’ll be able to find it.”
Well, Tom never found his ball, but he did spend 20 minutes searching for it. Instead of just dropping where his ball went out of bounds, he approached the drop like a consummate pro – citing the rule that ‘two club lengths from the point of entry.’ Then, he literally measured out two club lengths before his drop and then re-dropped four times (which is a one stroke penalty).
This would be the last “good” hole for Tom.