Around the Bluhmin’ Town
The rules of golf have changed! And it’s about time! These are perhaps the most sweeping changes since the sport’s first known rule book was published in 1744! No more antiquated, intimidating, maddening rules to hold us back from the “greatness” of this game. Oh yea, it is golfing season. Temperatures are rising, and it’s time to polish up the old clubs. Nothing says Spring like a day on the links.
My grandson, Kevin, called to tell me that the official golf rule changes will allow me to play the way I always do. You know, nudging the ball with your foot (as long as it is accidental, wink, wink) is no longer a big deal. And when a ball is lost, you can happily forget about it (which I always do anyway) after three minutes. And if you, by chance, goof up and your putt hits yourself, another player or the flagstick, no worries! No penalty and just play on!
This is the way my golf game usually goes. I hate looking for lost balls. Sometimes my putt rolls into other people. And what’s a little (unintentional, of course) movement of the ball with your foot? It all adds up to a more fun game. Or as my golfing buddies (grandsons) like to say…cheating! Hey, not true! A relaxed game means more enjoyment and less fuss.
Actually, I like to go out and swing the clubs when no one else is around, so a sickening hot day in Phoenix or a cold, wet day in Prescott, sounds about right. Then I can go out and not suffer too much humiliation and never worry about the giggles or stares of other players. Unless the other players are my grandsons, because those young men are very good at the game and very critical of their grandmother. One complains that I don’t focus enough. Gee, these are harsh words coming from a kid who has attention deficit! And so what if I slice? And okay, I’d rather not keep accurate score, but I do like the little cards and pencils.
A man of about eighty asked if he could join in our group one day. I asked him what his handicap was. He winked and said, “I have one total knee and arthritis.” I love this guy! Forget about the mysterious mathematical equations that are supposed to determine your handicap. What’s the point? I now happily tell people my handicap is “nearsightedness,” if they ask. And if I keep playing this game, I am sure I will have more handicaps to report.
One new rule I like is that you can now continue playing with a damaged club, even if that club was bent and ruined because you beat the heck out of it on the side of a tree in a fit of anger. Well, I have never done this but I did see a guy so frustrated that he kept beating his club on the green until it was a mangled piece of metal. Gee, now he “is allowed” to keep playing with it, when what is really needed is anger management!
I have taken lessons, but I think the pro gave up on me. Well, that’s all right. I remain hopeful. I am particularly encouraged when I look around and see lots of white-haired folks swinging away with gusto and making it look easy. Hey, you don’t have to be young to play golf, you just have to “play young.” I find it thrilling to just swing away! Sadly, I don’t always connect with the ball. Yes, Dear Readers, that little, white, evil ball is the thing that stands in the way of me being competent at this game. I know how to “swoosh” when I swing, but sometimes I just seem to be hitting air!
Hank Aaron famously said that, “It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.” It is a hard game! I have a girlfriend who didn’t start playing golf until she was sixty. She points out that everyone, at every level, has “something to work on” in order to improve. Yes, I agree. And what I can improve on is what to wear on the links, because everyone knows that if you are dressed smart you will play better.
Forget the “rule book” and just go have fun. Swing the driver like it is a baseball bat! Okay, forget that. Chipping? Easy, no dip required. Ball lost in the rough? Forget about it! Need more power? Get that heel off the ground! Want to hit a hole in one? Watch me…or maybe not.