For most who play the game, golf means recreation. Unwinding. A welcome diversion. To put themselves in a pleasant environment and then indulge in an activity that sweeps away unpleasant thoughts involving office and domestic responsibilities. Just to illustrate my point…. You are standing on the tee, seven-iron in hand with 160 yards to fly to a small, undulating green with the pin tucked behind one of the three bunkers zealously guarding the target. All your thoughts and energies are going to come together to get the ball in that hole in the minimum number of strokes. It is unlikely that, at this point in time, your brain is going to bring up the unfinished PowerPoint presentation for the next morning or, for that matter, the air conditioner requiring urgent repair in the spare bedroom since mother-in-law is visiting next week for an unspecified period. All summer, most likely. That’s going to be quite an electricity bill.
Like I said, a welcome diversion. Unfortunately, the diversionary attributes of golf don’t always work out the way you wish they would. It is possible to come away from a round thinking dark thoughts and mouthing profanities and your own game is, at times, not at fault. The reasons are, however, man-made. So, here are my 10 pet peeves on a golf course (not in decreasing order of “peevness”):
Practice swings: Yes, yes. Everybody in know of the game says it’s good to limber up before heading out. But not on the first tee! That’s what the practice range is meant for. And 10 practice swings before every shot. No wonder the guy’s a spent force by the time he actually attempts to move the ball.
Polish up: Go ahead, perfect that swing
Freeze frame: You know the game “statue”? Imagine experiencing that every couple of minutes on the course. This guy takes his stance and then goes into a trance. After what seems an eternity, something triggers a comeback. Pleas that there is a time element in golf have no effect.
Slo-mo on the green: You’ve hit a great drive down the middle and have an easy wedge to the green but there’s a problem. The green is occupied by a group of Neanderthals. Their movements are slow, and painful to watch. By the time your turn comes to hit, you slash at the ball and miss the green altogether. The immediate impulse is to grab somebody from the offending party and plant the flagstick in an area that sees little sunlight.
Phone on the move: I don’t care if you respond to the name Bill Gates, work can’t be an excuse for using that offending instrument on the golf course, which is no place to multitask anyway. The game is hard enough. But then this motormouth gets down to describing a new single malt he tried the previous night to some faceless victim, making sure you are within earshot. Save it for the bar.
Don’t be shy: Etiquette demands that the turf you rip out when hitting the ball is replaced before you move on. Also, once you’ve successfully extricated your ball from the bunker, you smoothen out the sand after use. If your caddie misses out, pitch in yourself and do your fellow-golfers a good turn. Don’t be a self-centred twit.
Jumping the queue: It’s a hot, sultry day and you make a brief pit stop after the ninth for a cool drink but when you walk up to the 10th tee, there’s a new set of fancy pants blocking your progress. These guys sneaked in when the starter left his post for a quick piddle. Not sporting, my friend.
Never give up: Nothing wrong with the motto, except when you’ve taken eight and are counting on a par-three. No point in flogging a dead horse—sounds familiar? You should know when you’re beaten. Pick up your golf ball, move on to the next and try and get back at the course there.
Spike ’em: You’ve hit a perfect putt. On line and good speed. Two feet short of the cup, the ball suddenly rears up and careens off line. You scream out in agony and then notice the shoe spike mark that robbed you off the birdie. Metal spikes are banned at most clubs for good reason and if you still wear them, learn how to use them.
Grumpy: He walks on to the first tee with a sour face. “Damn traffic. Man, it’s hot. Where are the clouds? My clubs are not feeling right today,” says grumpy before he has struck his opening shot. By the sixth hole, his shoulder starts to hurt and the affliction is discussed threadbare till the 14th. “You know this global warming thing…it worries me,” he says as his golf ball makes its way into the patch of jungle on the 16th. You hope he gets bitten by something nasty in there.
Counting issues: “Put me down for a five,” says the imbecile. “What about the two in the rough?” you ask. “Oh, those were just practice swings,” he retorts. The scene is replayed every other hole. This variety is also prone to playing soccer, especially when his ball is stymied. A well-aimed kick and presto! The man has a clear line to the green. These low-life forms deserve a few well-aimed kicks themselves.
Prabhdev Singh is the founding editor of Golf Digest India and a part-time golfer.
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