Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NFL Withdrawals: Golf is NOT a Sport!

It tries to sneak up on you in the off-season - when you aren't paying attention. You are deep into the February blues, trying to find a reason to go on after your NFL team failed to win the Super Bowl, again. Nothing much matters, the weather is lousy. You know that it will be a long six months until a new football season. You wonder if you can hang on that long. Your defenses are down and though you don't know it, you are vulnerable.

The first strike is when you are scrolling through the channels on Sunday afternoon during what is, by all rights, football game time. But, of course, the season is over. Even the Pro Bowl is in the books, though for the life of you, you can't remember who won. There are no football games on. But as you cruise to one of your familiar football channels, out of habit, mostly, you realize that there appears to be some excitement happening. So you stop for a moment to see what it is. Which is your first mistake.

You see the green, green inviting grass of Pebble Beach or some lush golf course in Arizona or Hawaii. People seem to be having a good time, you think, and they are acting like there is some drama going on. Perhaps this is something that is significant and that matters, you wonder. Your curiosity is piqued and then come the Rubicon of temptations: you are tempted to actually care about golf.

But I am here to save you from the cruel fate that awaits you should you render your heart to its green seductions and false promises. If you can just get the clarity of mind to quickly move on to the next channel immediately, you will have spared yourself from shame and humiliation. For if you stay, if you give in, if you let your heart be lulled into the sweet delusion that golf is actually a sport, you will be lost.

And when you are lost, it will take you to places, you will do things that even your friends didn't think you would sink to doing. You will only begin to recover when training camp starts again in July, and your awakening will only come through the embarrassing admission that you stooped so far as to enjoy something that was not real. Your friends will turn their backs to you and go talk to their real football friends instead, leaving you standing there alone, and in your shame.

For you have violated sacred sports territory, you have called a sport that which is not a sport. You have betrayed true sports fans everywhere. And you have forgotten the obvious truths about golf that reveal that it is not a sport at all.

Golf's Disqualifiers

So if you have already crossed that subtle, tempting, Rubicon line, let me review for you why golf is not a sport:

1. First of all, you know those fans that you see on tv? They all look like they are having a good time and that golf matters to them? Fake. They're all fake fans. They are all paid actors and actresses. All of them. Why do you think that they have some of the golf tournaments in the winter out in California? Duh! It's where all the actors are! The PGA, Nike, Buick and the like all pitch in to fit the bill to bring in these actors and tell them to look like they're having a good time.

Of course, they're not, you know. In fact it is so boring to them that they can hardly keep the corners turned on their smiles for more than a few moments. Directors learned this long ago, which is why a broadcast will move from green 12 to green 15 to green 7 to a tee-off on 3, all within a few moments. It's because the actors are having such a rotten time that they can only hide it for a camera shot every once in awhile. Yup.

2. Still not convinced? Well, let me ask you this, have you ever seen someone hit a golf ball? You have? Good. Now have you ever seen a professional hit a golf ball? You have? OK. Now, exactly how fast was that ball moving when he hit it? What's that, it wasn't moving at all? Which is exactly my point! How can golf be a sport when the ball they are trying to hit is sitting still on a tee?!

Does Barry Bonds get to hit a baseball from a tee? Heavens no, he has to try to hit one that is traveling 100 mph, and moving up, down, left or right as well! So where is the challenge in hitting a STILL ball? Oooh, pretty challenging!

3. And then there's this, "Shhh, quiet now, he's about to putt for a birdie." Everybody is supposed to BE QUIET as this fellow is trying to sink a putt and beat the guys he is golfing with. What the heck is up with that? Is that how things are in the real world? Absolutely not! When the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre is calling signals in Chicago do Bears fans say, "Shhh, quiet now, he's starting to call signals?" You got to be kidding me, right? No way does that ever happen. Not in anything that is actually a sport.

Do you remember back in the day when Larry Bird went up to the free-throw line one time in some other city? When he brought the ball up an looked at the basket, the entire fan section behind the basket that Bird was looking at pulled out full-length posters of some model in a swimsuit. Each fan had a poster. There were hundreds of them all waving around trying to distract Larry Bird. He even laughed. I don't remember if he made the shot or not, he probably did because he always stabbed you in the heart when you challenged him. But the point is that prohibiting spectators from expressing themselves is, well, it's just un-American.

In fact the best part of the first Jackass movie was when the guys took a blow-horn to the golf course, hid in the nearby bushes and shrieked it every time some golf monkey was trying to tee off! It was hilarious! One hero even went to far as to hit a golf ball at the hecklers. Over a little bit of noise. Imagine if real professional athletes responded that way in real sports!

4. Besides the ridiculousness of hitting a stopped ball, the other side of the golf shot is this: NOBODY'S trying to STOP them! They don't have a defender trying to take their head off, they don't have a pitcher trying to take their head off, they don't have a defenseman trying to take their head off. They are standing there at their leisure, waiting for who knows what to take their shot whenever they dang well feel like it. No pressure, no defense, no inhibitors. So where's the sport? It can't be called a sport, it's just simple narcissism.

5. The names are just wrong! You have a guy named Tiger, don't you expect him to line up right next to Urlacher on defense? Or maybe he could slash his way down the ice and hammer defensemen on his way to scoring a goal? Perhaps he's a boxer going the full-15 with Lennox Lewis?

Sorry, wrong dimension. This Tiger is skinny and he hits a little white ball further down the grass. No claws, no teeth, no blood-curling roar. Just 'plink.' That's all.

And the Shark? Nope, no bite, just a nice hat.

Suggested (Mandatory) Changes

Although the list could go on and on, rather than make it exhaustive, perhaps we could suggest some changes to this pastime that, if applied, would then make it a real, actual sport.

a. Institute Tackle Golf. Yes, that is right. You heard it here first. Can't you just see it, 'Bobcat Forrest is about to tee off. He looks down range, pulls back, ooohh, he's smeared from the blindside by the foursome coming up from hole 5! That's gotta hurt 'ol Bobcat. Looks like he'll need the stretcher to take him away again today."

Don't tell me that you wouldn't like that. Guys from other holes sneaking back to wipe you out, guys from your own foursome turning on you. Heck, you could have some roaming marauders sent out by the clubhouse striking from the bushes or hiding in trees. Maybe as long as you're off your golf cart you are open game.

I'll bet hitting that ball wouldn't be so easy then would it? And if you need to pad up, that's alright. You might even have the other guys in your party block for you while you are trying to hit it.

b. Bumping Up. Here's an idea that is long overdue. How about instead of waiting around forever for the party in front of you to mozy down the course before you hit the ball, you hit your ball and try to hit them. If you hit a guy in the party in front of you, you get to bump up and go ahead of that party! It's the perfect idea. That way Mr. StupidPants won't just be taking his dear, sweet old time while he's playing the course, he'll be hurrying and watching over his shoulder as well. With enough good shots, you can be out in front of everybody.

A corollary to this rule is that golf course maintenance workers, mowers and the like are objects that you get rewarded for hitting. Hit the tractor, get a free drink. Hit the guy driving the tractor, take a stroke off your score on that hole.

c. Mulligan-Mulligan-Oh, Crap. How many strikes do you get in baseball? Three. How many downs do you get in football? Four. So let's apply that to golf and go a conservative three balls from every lay. Hit the original ball; don't like it, hit another. Still don't like it hit one more. Seems only fair. Then you gotta decide there and then which one you are going to play.

But there is, a catch. Any other player can hit your mulligans. Like the guy coming the opposite way down another fairway, he can step over and smack your mulligan anywhere he wants to and you still have to play it. We'll use yellow, green or orange balls for mulligans, so that other golfers know which balls are fair game.

d. Here is a picture of my nephews. They are in a pasture called Pebble Beach Golf Course. Both nephews are from Wisconsin, one from the western part of the state and one from Green Bay (Wrightstown, actually.) These fellas, like all cheeseheads, were raised to know that you can find three things in a pasture, cows, cowpies, and occasionally, deer.

What you don't see in this particular picture of the pasture, er, golf course, is that there are often more deer on this course than people. Lots of them. Herds. And nobody bothers them at all.

Now there are some things about California that cheeseheads can tolerate; well some things. But letting deer roam freely and leisurely around a golf course is not one of them. Most certainly not! While taking this picture my nephews had half a mind to busting out their rifles right there and then. It would be worth the trip to jail to spot a deer in that far wood line, take him down with an .06, walk over and drag him into the fairway and gut him out right there on Pebble Beach Golf Course. (People take themselves farrr to seriously at Pebble Beach.)

So here's the final new golf rule, hunting on golf courses is mandatory. You must carry firearms in your golf cart and you must at least chase deer down the fairway with high-caliber bullets.

If the golf world would be willing to accept these rule suggestions, it could then possibly attain the status of actually being a sport. But do not be deceived, it still remains only something that sashays by until football gets here again!!!

(Is it the end July yet?)

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