We're All Snobs
I'm a golf snob. I dare say that there's at least a bit of snobbery in everyone who plays the game. Some definitely more than others, some in everyone.
I'll argue that we're snobbish not because of how we play the game, but because of where we play the game.
Very few of us have a reason to cop an attitude based on how we play the game, but there isn't a one of us who won't don an item baring the logo of an exclusive, well known or highly regarded course we've had the privilege to play. If you like I can show you my Crystal Downs hat. I bring this up not to brag, but to let you in on something you should already know - if you live in Michigan and play golf you are spoiled like the only male child of pre-revolution Russian Royalty.
Last August, in the humid heat of a southwestern Indiana drought, I decided I needed something to knock me off my high horse. The reasons behind this are still buried deep in my psyche, but nonetheless I searched for, and found, what appeared to be the most miserable golf course this side of Rick Riley's fictional Ponkaquogue Municipal Course and Deli from his book Missing Links.
It resembled a golf course only in that it had nine tees and nine greens, each of which got watered, a fact that was proudly advertised on the paper placemat of a local burger joint. Everything else in between was at the mercy of Mother Nature. Last summer she offered precious little water along U.S. 50 in Indiana.
At 2,700-yards from the tips I arrogantly figured that the par total of 35 was easily attainable, perhaps even breakable, though I may have posted level par for nine holes once in the past 20 years.
My first mistake, other than embarking on a mission with essentially the same goals and opportunity for success that the United States had when entering the Vietnam War, was walking and carrying by bag in 95-degree heat and 98% humidity.
After laying down my $7 greens fee the woman at the counter just said, "Have a nice round."
There was no mention about the elevation change between the 2nd fairway and the 3rd green. It was approximately the same as walking from the bottom of the 1st fairway at The Legend back up to the 1st tee.
Drenched in sweat and exhausted, I had racked up 13 strokes in less than 700-yards, I made it to the 4th tee only to come face to face with guy sitting in a banged and battered golf cart wearing nothing but cut-off blue jean shorts and a pair of running shoes. He had his bag on the back and an Igloo cooler full of beer in the seat next to him.
He said, "I saw you back there a couple of holes ago and decided to wait here and see if you wanted to play along."
I said nothing at first, then, "Sure."
He teed-off, sending his ball deep into the woods on the right. I hit it my drive so far left Al Gore couldn't find it with the entire editorial board of the New York Times.
He said, "You can ride with me if you like, they won't mind up at the clubhouse."
Banjos went off inside my head and I wanted to say, "I'd rather ride with Hannibal Lechter." But instead I just told him I enjoyed walking. He went straight into woods. After 10 minutes or so, I found my ball. My new playing partner yelled out, "Go ahead, I'mgonna look for mine some more." I made a hurried double and moved on to the next hole.
The other thing they didn't tell me about at the pro shop (a generous description) was that the line that ran across the course map on the back of the scorecard was not a creek, but a river bed about 15 to 20 feet wide.
Unlike everything else south of Indianapolis, this thing was teaming with water. My drive on the 7th hole found it for the 3rd time that afternoon. After another bogey I met a gentleman who was playing with his sons on the next tee. I asked him what he liked about the course.
"Nine holes and a cart cost me $15. My two boys play for $5 each and nobody cares what anybody shoots." He let me play through. I nodded my approval and made my first par since the opening hole.
On the last I was once again faced with the river. I finally decided to lay-up instead of trying to carry it with a driver. I thinned my three-iron, but it was enough to get it rolling on the baked-out blend of bluegrass, ryegrass, crabgrass, dandelions and dirt. Right before it jumped into the river I swear it gave me the finger. Up on the green I gave myself a 7-footer for a round of 46.
When I got back to the pro shop there were about 50 people, men and women, getting ready to play a shot-gun scramble skins game. They were all laughing, hollering and boasting about who was going to do whatand who was chicken to bet whom.
The guy who ran the place told me he had a spot if I wanted to play. I took off my hat, wiped my brow and thanked him, but said that I wasn't good enough to play this course twice in one day. My favorite golf hat, from Wawashkomo on Mackinac Island, was riddled and ruined by sweat. In a few weeks I'll receive my ballot for Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Play. Because I'm a golf snob I'm not going to vote for Pine Hills in Holton, Indiana, but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if, given the chance, the Wednesday afternoon scramble players would. MG
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