As I will often do, I have debates in my head about things. Am I wearing pants, for example? Should I wear them or should I have no pants day? What should I have for dinner? And how do I turn two conversations 8 months apart into something meaningful, or should I split them up?
Sure- I could spend my commute time listening to podcasts and thinking of how to make the world a better place. Instead, this is what I think about. Well, that and scotch. And the Maple Leafs’ annual descent into complete shit show, paused momentarily by the firing of Randy Carlyle, who will be best remembered by this moment of brilliance last December during HBO’s 24/7:
If you’re scoring at home, that’s Toaster 1, Carlyle 0. And people wonder why I drink like I do.
So anyway, in lieu of two separate blogs, I’ve combined two separate interviews into one super-duper blog post.
Steve (not his real name) has been playing for less than five years, and I’d estimate his handicap at 18-20. We play occasionally, and he gets around pretty well but gives up strokes around the green (in other words he’s like most of you). He got bit by the golf bug like many of us, and he’s now at that healthy level of obsession that is so endearing; sadly with Golf Channel now showing “golf” he’s missing out on staying up until 3:00 a.m. to watch infomercials (in my younger days I had a sexual tryst while the Perfect Club infomercial was on- I feel like there should be some kind of award for this, but we digress). Now that some of you are possibly vomiting, I’ll steer back to point.
Sally (not her real name) has been playing for 10+ years. I’ve seen her at the driving range a few times, and like me, she shows up, hits her bucket and is on her way (I’ve seen her get bothered on several occasions while she’s hitting balls). I’m not sure she was particularly thrilled that I approached her in the pro shop to ask her about golf (at least initially) but she soon realized I had no motive other than her two cents on the state of golf.
Me: One of the things people often cite when asked why they don’t play golf is the cost. You’re not a millionaire. Did this bother you?
Steve: Not really; my first set of clubs were used, I got them cheap, paid a few bucks to get them re-gripped and I was off. I found that by looking around and looking for value and sales, I could find stuff fairly cheaply.
Me: The other thing you hear is that new golfers are intimidated by more experienced golfers. Any issues?
Steve: Not really…never encountered any issues from other golfers. Most other golfers just want to get around and shoot good scores.
Me: Other than spending time outdoors, why did you take up the game?
Steve: I wanted a new experience. I wanted an opportunity to meet people, take up a new hobby, and be able to mix business in with what I do. And what they say is true- golf is a great place to conduct business, or at least get to meet new people.
Me: What issues did you encounter as a novice/beginner?
Steve: By far pace of play was the biggest issue. If you can keep up and keep moving along nobody bothers you.
Me: Okay, so if you had $500 to spend right now on golf, what would you buy?
Steve: A new pair of waterproof shoes! Playing early means the courses are wet. I’d also invest in some more lessons; maybe a short game clinic or something like that. Before I buy anything I’d do research though. I don’t care about a particular brand; I’m looking for value.
Me: Neither of us will ever play on the Tour (Steve and I are roughly the same age), so why do you play?
Steve: Having those great holes make for a rewarding experience. It’s fun to see if you can beat your best-ever round. I can see why you love to play even though you drink way too much. I mean, does Johnnie Walker sponsor you or something?
Me: How long should a round of golf take?
Steve: No more than four hours.
Me: If you could give one piece of advice to newcomers, what would it be?
Steve: Take lessons and don’t be afraid to play from the forward tees.
My chat with Sally appears below:
Me: So how long have you been playing?
Sally: Over ten years. I played off and on and have gotten more serious about it in the last five years.
Me: I’ll admit I see you at the range quite a bit, and every time you’re hitting balls at least one or two guys will come up to you. I’ve wondered what they’re talking to you about?
Sally: Equal parts tips on my swing and seeing if they can help me.
Me: From afar it doesn’t appear to be the case.
Sally: It’s not. I just want to hit balls, work on my game, and unwind. Is that too much to ask?
Me: Not at all.
Sally: (tone slightly irritated) I’m not here looking to meet anyone. I want to work on my game and ideally be left alone. Why do you guys think I need your help?
Me: I don’t. That’s what PGA Professionals are for.
Sally: Thank you.
Me: When you play rounds do you get bothered?
Sally: It depends. If I’m playing with business colleagues, generally everything is fine, other than having to remind them at least a half-dozen times that I play from the forward tees even though I tell them before the first hole. Getting paired up with a group of guys can go fine or it becomes really frustrating?
Me: How so?
Sally: For one, ask me what set of tees I’m playing from…don’t assume. Two, I don’t want your advice on my swing, stance, or posture. Three, I don’t want your phone number. Four, don’t assume I’m going to pick up or that a putt is good. Why do guys assume that anything inside four feet is “good”?
Me: Because deep down four footers scare the crap out of us.
Sally: Me too, but I didn’t start playing to avoid this. Just let me either finish, mark it, or pick it up.
Me: Fair enough. I noticed you have a pretty big cart bag. Any reason?
Sally: The first set I bought had everything (bag, clubs, putter), and it was pink. I like the clubs but I don’t want or need a pink bag. So I bought a giant bag (which actually works out- I can leave my waterproof pants and jacket in it).
Me: How do you get treated at public courses?
Sally: Depends. If I’m part of a twosome or a foursome there’s generally no problems, but if myself and another woman join a twosome of guys it can be difficult.
Me: How so?
Sally: Your “great, we have to play with women” body language. The idea that you might have to wait for us to tee off. The look that somehow we take forever to play when it’s usually men who have to play from the tips that slow things up (guilty). I’m not saying you need to bow in front of us…just some basic courtesy is all. Oh, and maybe not hit on us.
Me: How often does this happen?
Sally: Only occasionally, but it still puts me off- it’s not like I’m paying any less or something. I’ve become used to it to some level, I suppose.
Me: Thanks for your time, and best of luck this year.