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Like anything worthwhile in life, a bad round of golf needs a solid foundation. If you’re a drinker, a hangover and two hours of sleep is a good place to start.
If you don’t drink, there are other things you can do to lay down a good foundation for a bad round of golf. Like eating at a Mexican restaurant that’s received a score of 58 from the board of health. This will add not only discomfort but also a sense of urgency to your round. And it opens the door to creating a story that your buddies will tell for years to come.
Don’t Warm Up
Try to get to the golf course right at your tee time. This way you can avoid the hassle of warming up.
My theory is that you’re only going to hit five good shots in the course of the day, so why waste one on the driving range? Isn’t it better to start playing right away, rather than embarrassing yourself in front of yet more people? Of course it is.
And whatever you do, don’t stretch. You might pull something.
How to Screw Up a Great Drive
It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. People are watching. The pressure’s on. And you smack a drive straight and long down the middle of the fairway.
Now: Time to screw it up!
As you walk to your ball, keep telling yourself, “Don’t screw up your drive.” If you’re already talking to yourself on the second shot of the day, it’s a bad sign. And that’s good. And since the next shot is such an important one, you’re going to want to see where it goes right away. So as you swing through the ball, lift your head.
Hey, you may even hear yourself scream, “I lifted my head!” as your ball sails dead left with the arc of a banana. Congratulations, my friend: You’ve set the table for another horrible round of golf.
The Golf Cart
Try to pick a cart that looks like it’s been through a war. Because with your game, it’s sure to have to go off-road at some point. If it barely has enough juice to make it up the first hill, whatever you do, don’t turn around and exchange it for a better cart. This would not only eliminate stress from your day, it would rob you of a primo excuse for your crappy round later on.
When you wind up in the trees (and you will), DO NOT PLAY IT SAFE! That’s what the trees want you to do. They want you to look bad. Don’t let them win. If you’ve sliced the ball into a forest but can still see an inch of daylight through some branches fifty yards away, GO FOR IT!
If Tiger Woods can make this shot one time in a thousand, why can’t you? Remember, many a scorecard adventure has begun with the words “Hand me my two-iron, I’m going to try to blast it out of here.”
Don’t punch the ball onto the fairway until you’ve tried every possible way out. If your buddies aren’t hiding behind a cart, you haven’t tried hard enough. If you wimp out here, you’ll never know the glory of what might have been!
In the mysterious world of golf there are evil forces at work that will keep you from having a bad round. And one of the most powerful of these is “having fun.”
Avoid fun. Fun is for children. And otters. This is serious. Why? . . . I don’t know. But it is. It just is.
FUN = RELAXED = LOW SCORES
. . . and that’s something we want to avoid.
It has been said that in golf you’re not playing against anybody else, you’re playing against the course. Baloney! That kind of silly thinking eliminates way too much stress. You are playing against everyone in your group, so you should maniacally study the scorecard after every hole and calculate how many strokes you need to need to make up. This way you can make smart decisions like going for it from 278 yards out with a water hazard between you and the hole.
As we’ve discussed, it’s next to impossible to really stink at golf without stress. So you should select the group you’re playing with carefully.
Here are some promising foursomes:
Your sex-crazed single buddy with the great stories
Your friend with the filthiest mouth on the planet
Your friend who just got out of rehab
A stranger who really needs to go to rehab
It’s impossible to resist the temptation of going for birdie on a par 5. So when stepping up to the tee on these long, majestic holes, have only one thought on your mind: KILL THE BALL!
Kill it! Hit it as hard as you can! After all, the harder you hit something, the farther it goes, right? That’s just scientific fact, right? So whack it with all your might, then sit back and watch the magic.
Now, if, for some strange reason, your ball doesn’t go very far, you’ll have ground to make up. So . . . KILL IT AGAIN! Use your driver off the fairway if you have to! Keep killing it till you eventually get to the hole. If you’re not making an audible noise, you’re not swinging hard enough.
The Cart Girl
To stink at golf on a consistent basis you need distractions, and plenty of them. One of the best is a gorgeous cart girl with a great personality. You won’t have time to keep your head down as you scan the horizon, looking for any sign that she might be headed back your way.
Think about it: As a stunning twenty-two-year-old, she’d be crazy not to want to hook up with an out-of-shape old married guy with goofy plaid pants and a sunburned nose! Come on, there’s no way she’s not checkin’ you out as you pop a heart pill and change your glasses while lining up a two-foot putt for
Why don’t you save the heart attack for after you miss a birdie on the eighteenth green, blowing your shot at breaking 80?
If you have a problem with alcohol, now is not the time to try to control it. Slowed reflexes and distorted judgment can only work to your benefit if you really want to stink at golf.
Besides, downing a few cool ones almost guarantees you’ll make an off- color comment about a playing partner’s wife or girlfriend, and that’ll open the door for anger and tension. If one of your playing partners happens to be your boss, you might lose your job. Which, of course, would give you plenty of free time to play more golf.
Your Cell Phone
Whatever you do, don’t turn your cell phone off. That next call “could be the one”!
Plus, this is the age of multitasking. You can play golf, conduct business, and argue with your sister about whether or not to place your mother in a home, all at the same time.
Don’t cheat by putting your cell on vibrate. What could be better than if, as your buddy’s putting for his first par in fifty holes, he hears “What’s up, doc?!” blaring from your pocket?
Guessing What Club to Use
We’re not pros, so we don’t have genius caddies who spend hours mapping out every club selection from every part of the course. No! We have to do the hard work ourselves. And if you pick the wrong club, it could be the difference between a hole in one or winding up in the sand! That’s why it’s imperative that you second-guess every guess you guess.
Here’s what I do from 140 yards out:
1. Stand there for a really long time just looking off.
2. Pull out my eight-iron.
3. Line up the ball and take a few practice swings.
4. Ask Jerry what club I should use.
5. Tell Jerry I don’t have a nine-wood.
6. Second-guess my eight-iron and go back and get my seven-iron. But as soon as I pull it out, second-guess my seven-iron and decide to go with my eight-iron once again.
7. Tell Jerry to quit talking to the cart girl while I’m trying to concentrate.
8. As I swing through the ball, think only about how I’ve made a STUPID CHOICE and should be using my seven-iron.
So, You Want to
Break a Club
To get to the point where you would actually smash your pitching wedge on a ball washer or wrap your putter around a tree, you must exclude all prejudices, including:
A. how much it cost
B. if it was a gift
C. if your fiancée’s father is watching
Once that’s out of the way, remember one thing: It’s not you. You’re not the problem. Your STUPID CLUB has just missed an easy shot, and therefore it must be destroyed. Why must you keep suffering? You, who have lugged it around and cleaned it and put all your confidence in it. And it goes and does THIS!
There . . .
Now you’re putting with a five-iron. Until you break it.
By the time you’re teeing off with your ball retriever, the high score you’re looking for is all but guaranteed.
Fairways mean short grass and level lies. Avoid them like the plague. The golfer who consistently plays off the fairway is in constant danger of recording low scores. And that, my friend, is a no-no.
It is easy to hit a ball from the fairway. And you’ve never taken the easy way out. They call it the “rough” for a reason. Sissies don’t like it rough. But you do!
As you stand on a sidehill lie staring down at the top of a ball buried in five inches of grass, yell to the greenskeeper, “Is that all you’ve got?!” Then laugh like a madman and start chopping!
It has always been my belief that one of the most frustrating things about being a bad golfer is losing expensive golf balls. That’s why I quit doing it. Oh, I still lose golf balls by the dozens; they’re just not expensive. They’re free!
While you’re in the woods searching for your errant drive, take the time to look around for other lost balls. If they’re scuffed or discolored, who cares? You’re gonna lose them again anyway.
Water hazards are a great place to find golf balls. That’s why they put them there: to suck in your golf balls so they can pay a kid five bucks to retrieve them and then they can sell them back to you! Well, not me. What do they think I am, an idiot? I don’t care if I have to get naked. I’m grabbing not only my lost ball but every other ball I can pick up with my toes.
If you do these things not only will you guarantee yourself the ability to continue to stink by using damaged and malformed balls, you’re also sure to make the group behind you blind with rage at how slow you’re playing, which will lead to long-distance cuss fights, resulting in extreme elevations in your blood pressure, which is essential to your target goal: another bad round of golf.
Before you get set to address the ball,
you should have some “swing thoughts” prepared—and plenty of them.
These are my inner thoughts as I’m setting up to swing:
“Feet shoulder width apart, relax at the knees, arms straight, hands forming a perfect V, remember to rotate your hips, not too fast on the takeaway, are your shoes tied? Yeah, I’m pretty sure they are, check the wind, did I leave the stove on this morning? Keep your head down, I wonder if everybody is watching me, this is taking too long, I should just back off, relax, and start over. Nah. I’m okay. Take a deep breath, eye on the ball, I can see Jerry out of the corner of my eye, I hope I don’t hit him, I wish that cart girl would come back soon, la la la dee dee dee doo, I wonder why my left arm is numb, SWING!!!!!”
Obviously, your particular pattern may vary, but this one has been proven time and again to put me in the perfect mental space to shank one dead left into the woods.
If your game is horrible in perfect conditions, just think of what you can accomplish in the face of a natural disaster. Besides, if God hadn’t wanted you to play in a torrential downpour, he wouldn’t have invented the rain suit. In addition, I’ve found that mud on half the ball creates flight patterns that would amaze NASA. Hey, if you have to approach the green on the dry side of the hole, it’s a great day for golf!
An added bonus is that water does flow downhill, so there’s a good chance your putt could be washed away from the hole. (When this happens, see “Swearing,” page 78.)
Don’t forget to play in intense heat at every opportunity. For example, if you’re playing in Phoenix in July, try to get a twelve o’clock tee time. When your kidneys shut down at two-thirty, your 14 strokes on a par 3 will be the least of your concerns.
Cold weather is also good. You were never comfortable with your grip anyway, so not being able to feel your hands shouldn’t really matter. Besides, when you skull an iron shot, the pain that shoots up your arms will give you something to talk about other than why they don’t make down-filled golf shoes. Some will argue that you can warm up with a few belts of liquor; at this point, that may be just what your game needs.
The Short Pitch
Somewhere in hell there’s a golf course where every shot is fifty- five yards from the hole. And you know as you stand over the tee that there is no way you’re gonna get that little ball anywhere close. Accept this. And then swing harder than your instincts tell you is right because, as Albert Einstein and Dr. Ruth said, “Never up, never in.”
From the Hardcover edition.