Why would anyone want to quit golf?
"Why would anyone want to quit golf?" said the voice.
It took me a moment to loosen my hypnotic gaze that was locked on the swimsuit wall calendars hanging on the kiosk across from me. My eyes searched for the source of the voice, and the change of scenery was disappointing. A rotund man, wearing a Nike wind shirt that may have fit before he discovered golf course food, looked at me like I was about to pick up his Acushnet Special that he had sliced from three fairways over.
I was sitting at a wobbly card table in a local mall, signing copies of my book, How to Quit Golf--A 12-step Program, when the question was posed. It came again, "Well, who would want to quit?"
Oddly enough, I get this question a lot, and I suppose it's legitimate. When I started writing the book I did so on the premise that virtually everyone who has ever played the game for more than twenty minutes had at one time or another sworn that they were going to give it up. Some do, though most don't.
The National Golf Foundation is concerned, however, since their figures say that the number of golfers hasn't grown over the past few years, even with the Tiger Woods effect. An equal amount of people are dropping out of the game as there are taking it up. But that's a different discussion, and not the one that this gentleman had in mind.
I said, "It's a joke," and proceeded to give him the thirty-second overview of the book's genesis while sneaking glances back at the calendars.
"Hell, I been playing 30 years and never once thought about quitting," said the gentleman.
"Well then," I said, "You must be pretty good."
"I'm OK, I shoot in the 40's," he said.
It's at this point the discussion could go one of two ways. I could nod and agree that he was probably too good to consider quitting, and let him make his way to the Mrs. Fields cookie counter, where he undoubtedly would make the help earn their keep. Given, however, that mall traffic had died down and it had been a while since anyone had stopped to buy a book, plus the fact that three pimple faced, tongue wagging teenage boys had positioned themselves between me and a glossy, basically naked, Heidi Klum, I choose my second option. The second option, I will admit, is probably why I don't get invited too many parties.
"40's huh, for 18," I said.
"For nine, you know, in my league," he said.
"Oh, your league, and a competitive gathering it must be. You certainly appear to have a firm grasp on the finer aspects of the game, being a 40's shooter and all. What sort of handicap would that translate to, if you don't mind me asking?
"Ten," said Mr. Nike.
"For nine?" I said.
"Yes, for nine," he said.
"Ten for nine."
"In the process of establishing your ten for nine do you ever lose a ball, hit into the trees, or splash one into a pond?" I asked.
"Not much of that where I play," he said.
"Sand?" I ask.
"But not much?"
"Play everything down, I assume."
"You know, play it where it lies. Rule number one," I said.
"Yeah, I guess."
""For the most part," he said, becoming uncomfortable with the line of questioning.
"Ten for nine, no hazards and the occasional repositioning of the ball, at will, with no consequences. Which, and check my math here, translates into 20 for 18," I said.
"20 for 18 on a course with no hazards and you pretty much tee it up for every shot."
"Well, wait a second."
"You want to know something?" I ask.
"What's that," he said.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you're a slash. You're a terrible golfer and my guess is that the reason quitting the game hasn't crossed your mind is that that road closed years ago. You should consider my book not only a source for your salvation, but as a gift to everyone else in your league." I said.
He gave me a look like I just cut in front of him at the halfway house and ordered the last bratwurst. He then turned, and without buying the book, made a beeline for Mrs. Fields.
One of the downsides in writing a humorous book is that not everyone will get the joke. In addition to the human Nike billboard, there is another segment of the population that thinks I'm seriously trying to get people to quit golf, namely, golf shop owners.
Believe it or not, many have decided not to carry the book in their pro shops because, as they say, "they are interested in people playing golf, not quitting golf."
My response is quite simply this, "If legions of well intending wives haven't been able to get their husbands to quit, what in the world makes you think I can?"
Craig Brass' first book, How to Quit Golf--A 12-step Program, was published by Dutton in November. He is the recipient of an International Network of Golf Outstanding Achievement Award for writing about the game. He joins Michigan Golfer this year as a columnist. For information about his book go to www.howtoquitgolf.com.
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