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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Things That Make Me Hot (an homage to Dan Jenkins)


I have been re-reading all the Dan Jenkins books I can get my hands on, following his death recently. He wrote so much wonderful prose and if you are looking for a great sampler of his work, look no further than Fairways and Greens. It comprises many pieces he wrote for Golf Digest and was published in 1994. One of my favorite articles is Jenkins’ “Things That Make You Hot”, so with a huge nod to him, here is my version.

Range Finders. Great, so after taking a minute trying to find the flag you know it is 145 yards to carry the front bunker. The only problem is you have no ability to consistently hit the ball 146 yards. If your handicap is higher than, say, five, use the money you would spend on one of these electronic widgets and get a lesson!

The Double Logo. Ok, your insurance salesman got you on at Pine Valley and you paid $5,000 in an auction to play Winged Foot. At both you hit the shop hard….but it doesn’t mean you should wear both logos at the same time. It is a cardinal sin and you need to leave the course immediately.

Fixed Height Tees. Do you have a ruler to decide how much milk to put in your coffee? No, you just know right? Same goes for putting your tee in the ground. Feel it and it will likely be correct. Try different heights on the range to see what works for you. If you don’t know how high to tee your ball you shouldn’t be out there.

Golf Carts. The scourge of the game and the biggest reason for slow play in America. Let’s both drive to you ball and watch you hit your shot and then drive to my ball and watch that. No! I don’t need to see you hit your shot - I’ll see you on the green! In the UK, there are few courses with carts and play is one to two hours quicker, mainly because players walk to their own ball and play ready golf. I grew up in the UK playing in less three hours and am bewildered that US golfers think four hours plus is normal. The game of golf is a walking game!

Putting Out. The four hour plus rounds are also caused by golfers feeling the need to putt out on every green. If it’s inside the leather pick it up and get off the green. No one cares except you and this ludicrous obsession with keeping score is another fatal reason for the lack of interest from millennials and Z gen kids. They want to have fun and they want it quick. Grinding over a one-foot putt is madness. I get it, I played competitive golf and there is a place for that, but not on a wet Wednesday at any course. It’s often worse at private clubs where the mentality seems to be, I’m paying big bucks for this and the sense of entitlement is heightened.

The Air Hug. This is peculiar to the women’s professional game. After the final putt drop the women give each other this odd “air hug”. It’s not an actual hug, it’s more of an obligatory embrace with a sort of pat on the back. It looks fake and I guess feels fake. Just shake hands and be done with it. I do wonder how this odd ritual started and I just wish it would finish!

Pitch Marks. It still ceases to amaze me how many players don’t repair a pitch mark on the green. Maybe they don’t think they make one as they thin a wedge onto and over the green. If I were a superintendent and had to waste budget on sending out staff to fix pitch marks (which they do!) I would be apoplectic! It starts with higher handicap players who don’t for some odd reason think they make pitch marks. Fix you mark and help out the super!

Iron Head Covers. Enough said!

Tour bags. I love Tour Bags. I have three in my office, but I would never, never use one. There is one group and one group only who need a 10-inch Tour bag - professional golfers. They need a bag stuffed with stuff – waterproofs, towels, band aids, tees, golf balls, gloves, energy bars, their lucky rabbit foot. We need a few balls, some tees, a glove and a Mars Bar and frankly you’ll look like an idiot showing up with a Tour bag and then hitting the first tee shot 157 yards.

The Rules Guy. He’s read the new version of the rules and will dispute the height of your knee drop from across the other side of the fairway. There are several in every club and I’m not picking on the men here - the women are at it too! If you are any good at golf, you’ll know the rules and also appreciate that very few games are ever played without one or two rules being broken. And you know what, that is just fine if you are out having fun. We are not playing in a USGA event! If you want to be rules guy good luck to you, just know your options to play in a regular fourball and enjoy the game diminish with each holier than though ruling.

The Cheater. Reading the above, don’t think for one second, I am advocating cheating. I am not. I once played in the club championship with a very good golfer who I saw physically move his ball nine times. Fortunately, I beat him and then walked into the Secretary’s office to report him. Every club has them, golfers who think the basic rules don’t apply and move their ball in the rough, the bunker, the trees. We know who you are and that’s why we don’t play with you!