Terrible Golf Made Easy

Posted on June 15, 2011


If someone invites me to go golfing, I usually accept but clarify, “I’m not an outstanding golfer.”

This gives the impression I may be only a degree or two below outstanding–not a bad place to find yourself.  But to be honest, I’m not a good golfer either.

Actually, I’m not even average.

To be clear, I would rate myself between below-average and terrible.

To be 100 percent clear on my skill level, I’m not entirely certain why the clubs have different numbers on them.  I look through a bag of fourteen clubs and only see two types: a putter and not putters.

I enjoy golf, except for the parts that make me insanely angry.  I rarely play nine or eighteen holes, but I do go to the driving range once or twice a month during warm weather.  I find smacking the ball very satisfying.   I prefer the driving range over the course because I like not having to worry about my ball hitting a tree or hitting a person or hitting a tree that then falls over and hits a person.

My dad took me golfing about five times a year when I was a kid, and I always enjoyed it immensely for four holes.  When we hit hole five I had reached the end of my attention span, and the remaining holes probably made my dad wish he had chosen a hobby that didn’t lend itself to bringing the kids along, like crime fighting, or crime.

Golf is complicated and requires a lot of concentration.  Some sports will let you reach a certain level of competition based on strength or raw talent or finesse, but golf requires you to do fifty little things well at the same time in order to play to your full potential.  You need someone to show you these fifty things and watch you swing so they can tell you which forty-nine you aren’t doing correctly.  And these people usually want lots and lots of money for their advice.

This is why I don’t play golf more frequently–it’s expensive.  Really, really expensive.  Playing eighteen holes where I live costs a hundred dollars or more.  A good set of clubs costs thousands of dollars and may need to be replaced frequently if you constantly throw them at other golfers like I do.

I figure I’ll need to play eighteen holes twice a month for a couple years, buy nice clubs, and meet regularly with a coach if I want to even achieve mediocrity.  The level of dedication and financial requirement does not correspond with my level of interest, which is why I’ve developed my own shortcut techniques for playing golf, and I don’t want anyone telling me I’m doing something wrong with my swing.  I can take criticism.  I really, really can, but only if I have an interest in getting better at the thing you’re criticizing.

I only have three clubs: a putter and two not putters.  I’m actually great with a putter.  I recently built a three hole mini golf course inside my house as part of my friend Andrew’s birthday party celebration, and I was sinking putts left and right.  The other two not putters are a little trickier.  Every time I hit, the ball slices fifty yards to the right.  Over time I figured out I could point my feet dramatically to the left, and my shots would travel a dramatic half-circle arc but end up straight down the course.  Now I can use both these not putters and hit 150 yards straight down the course every single time.

I go to the driving range with a few different friends, who never give me advice, but I recently went golfing for the first time with a friend from Taiwan who literally gave me fourteen different tips while we played.  I’ve coached little league baseball many seasons, and one of my main philosophies is to only give the kid one piece of advice at a time.  It does no good to tell him to choke up, keep your eye on the ball, wait for a good pitch, bend your knees, put your bat back, step into it, etc., all at the same time.  The kid probably won’t even remember one piece of advice, definitely don’t give him fourteen.  Every few swings my friend would tell me something else was the main problem.  He’s a nice guy, and I didn’t want to be rude and ignore his polite advice that would have cost me a fortune if I’d paid a golf instructor, so I did everything he told me and had an absolutely miserable day.  I understand if I did everything he told me I would play terrible for a couple years and eventually perfect the technique and hit 250 yards straight down the course every time, but for now I’m content to hit a half-moon 150 yard shot every single time.

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