Getting A Little Off Course



Tiger Woods has a lot to answer for.

It doesn't seem to matter what publication I pick up these days — be it Newsweek or Mitten Knitting Monthly, it seems that every one of them has a “golf supplement.” There are few things more annoying than picking up a nice hefty publication, only to discover half of it has been given up to mulligan mug shots.

You see, contrary to what you might think, a golf supplement is not a new type of vitamin designed to prevent baldness, premature wrinkling or visits from your in-laws. It is an insert in a magazine or newspaper which is chock-full of information about the latest baby boomer trend.

Personally, I've never really seen the point of golf. First of all, you have to take a perfectly good, lush and rolling meadow, kick out all the gophers, and bulldoze it flat. Then, after ripping up all the turf, you re-seed and sod and sculpt it until you get an, um, well … lush and rolling golf course.

And how are these “natural” playgrounds maintained, exactly? I suspect it must involve a crack commando fleet of crabgrass assassins, complete with night vision goggles, because you never see anything being done during the day. I also firmly believe that this team must use laser powered Stealth lawnmowers with global positioning satellites, and possibly alien grass DNA, because my lawn never looks that good. I'd approach one of these guys to ask for pointers, but I'm afraid I'll get shot with one of their Super-Duper Divot Replacement Ray Guns.

After all this terraforming, you invite people to pay $20 and up for the

privilege of hiking around with a 30 pound bag of sticks, which they use to

whack a tiny white ball over miles of grass into a small round hole. And,

even though they may have paid up to $1000 or more for that bag of sticks,

the aim seems to be to use them as little as possible.

I must be, however, one of the few remaining people on the planet who is not a golf convert. Certainly the advertisers in these supplements seem to think so. Here's one inviting me to drop just “three easy payments” on a set of “HI FLIGHT” golf balls, “GUARANTEED TO INCREASE YOUR DRIVES.” These balls use “patented dimple technology.” By now, everyone knows that the more dimples you can fit on a golf ball, the farther it goes when you hit it. What is not well known is that the dimple discovery came from scientific studies of the Cabbage Patch Kid department store brawls of the '80's.

I've had people tell me that they golf “to network” and to “make deals.”

This is, I'm sure, perfectly true, because there's nothing easier than

working out the details of a three-company $2 billion merger involving an

armada of accountants and lawyer, while trying to make the putt on the

fourth hole. I'm sure the fact that golf provides a legitimate excuse to get out of the office on a nice summer day has nothing to do with it.

Other people assure me they golf to stay fit. Because 18 holes almost always involves using an electrically-powered golf cart followed by several rounds of beer at the clubhouse, I believe this too.

Okay, okay, there are people out there though who don't make any pretense

about golf, and go out to play just for the sake of the game. These folks

are usually a sub-species of the Early Riser, cheerfully heading out to the

links at the crack of dawn; they then come into work and smugly announce

they put in 18 holes before seven a.m. Come the Revolution, they will be

right up there on my list of people First Against the Wall.

These are the same folks who devour supplement articles about “long ball”

champions, who drive the golf ball so hard that the skin on their fingers

splits (go ahead, shudder, I'll wait). They drool over titanium heads, pour

over articles on how to fix slices, hooks and handle doglegs, and sigh

dreamily over plaid-colored plus-fours. They are the inspiration for “I

lost my husband/wife to golf” shirts, and will still be out there, happily

puttering away, when baby boomers look to their next trend.

Indeed, until they are left alone and the Next Big Thing comes along, I suppose I shall have to remain green with envy, trying not to get too teed

off about all of these sub”par” magazine supplements.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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