Surlyn Dimpled Missiles – Ranger Danger

Surlyn dimpled missiles careen blindly through the sky all too often perishing in the depths of the creek fronting the tee box on the first tee at Trophy Club Atlanta. Friday the 13th and sequels et al, Jason would fare better with his iconic machete. As we wait, two groups ahead of us still to tee off, I wonder about Jason and would he do us a solid, emerge headlong from the brush, slashing down the multi ball playing bastards on the first tee? A momentary flash of brilliant carnage plays clearly in my mind, the spell broken by the hosel rocket second attempt of the said repeat offender….”where did that one go?” His playing partners answer in unison, almost as if on cue, “in the hazard, dead with the other one”. A little embarrassed, he says “I’ll drop with you guys up there”. I’ll give him credit, he kept his head down. That’s one piece of solid golf instruction he will not be accused of ignoring. The truth of the matter, the whole group was dropping in the fairway, his playing partners had put 4 O.B. between them (but they would search for them mind you), and the other was in the creek bed as well. That creek bed is rich with newly embedded golf balls. Poor golf balls hoping for renewal and a second chance at life on Craigslist or maybe in a driving range bucket. Of course these dudes teed up from the blues, obviously the white tees were below their playing capability.

Harsh? Possibly. Warranted? Yes, I dare say, it’s most definitely warranted. I do not tread heavily on the new player trying to have a good time. This isn’t aimed in your direction, you are learning the game and you have a right to play. You paid your money, hell, I’d tell a pompous ass hat like me to go scratch. Given, when I was a new player and I sucked…like really bad, we could slow play somewhat, but not from multiple tee shots. Strictly army golf. We played 1 mulligan per side, after that you were dropping. You aren’t my target here with this post. A post surely to alienate some, possibly aggravating many others. It’s the habitual line steppers, those peeps who just bring it all to a grinding halt on a gorgeous Sunday. In the capacity I serve as your “Golf Ranger”, you must know that I abhor the 5 hour round. It is a blight that must be stricken from consciousness. We must do better as a people, a tribe not unlike the 12 led by Moses out of the wilderness. We must help each other cross that river to the land of milk and honey. Now the first tee isn’t always a true indication of the group in front of you. I’ve been known to play like a hooker if I don’t have a chance to warmup. No offense to those in the profession, it’s meant in the strictest golf definition: “One that hooketh the ball way left of the intended target (right if you are a lefty), usually precipitated by a violent flip of an overactive bottom hand. Often accompanied by use of obscene language all days except Sunday”. If you have the time look it up, it’s in Webster’s, a sub definition for the criminally insane. It’s also, not that uncommon and generally accepted in principle to play 2 from the 1st, primarily when you just got to the course and teeing off with no warmup. Understandable. I don’t begrudge this practice. To be honest, this group didn’t really bother me too much, nor did the group that followed which reenacted the whole bloody Shakespearean tragedy with astonishing accuracy. The group I was in, I must admit, were flagrant violators’ of the commandments I so ardently hold fast.

Let’s be clear here, my twosome was on point. My son and I had a little “principal” money game going. Playing a modified Stableford using our handicaps to keep things equitable. I guarantee you this much, that little shark would give me a mulligan like never. If I was on my death bed he’d tell me….”that’s 3 old man, oh and I’m going to miss you. You going to pay me my $1.75 from our last match before you go?” The guys we were paired with were Irish, had to be, I almost started calling them the Mulligans. At least one of them hit 2 off of every tee. Sometimes, they both did. That’s not golf. That’s paying $50 bucks, going to a driving range and supplying your own golf balls. Why do that? After the 2nd hole, my kid goes….”5 hours dude, this is a 5 spot easy”. Needless to say, we tried our best to stay in rhythm. Impossible when you are constantly in a holding pattern. Hang on, don’t get mad at me just yet, I haven’t clearly given you a proper picture. On the second tee, we are waiting for the group in front to mount up. They aren’t good, but they are within the flow, keeping up with the group in front of them. This will be our last sighting of them for some time. They are still in driver range, so I hit a hybrid on a par 5, effectively giving myself no chance at going at it in 2. This place was jammed up, why wait? That long approach would have been my 4th full swing of the day, probably not pulling off a 230 yard shot to a tight green to reach it in 2. Playing this hole as a 3 shot, missionary style, no frills, in and out, put the baby to bed. I clip the ball well, it’s piped, dead center. My son rips a driver, a little right, but solid. The first guy has some sense, he knows the driver is evil, so he takes something a little less detrimental out of the bag, makes a serviceable play. The other guy, pulls the driver. He took notice of my hybrid play…”beautiful shot”, to which I respond, “thanks, playing it up in 3, tight hole and it’s early”. “Smart play”, he says and pulls his freaking driver. “I got to give it a go”, he chuckles (like a crazy person). He proceeds to hit a towering, majestic, a truly massive bomb completely out of play, but at least it’s a red staked area. Drop one in play and move on. I start towards the cart, to which I hear, “I’m going to hit another one”, oh boy. Not, “Is it cool if I hit another one?” To make it worse, he has to go back to the cart to get another ball (another horrible habit), rummaging through his bag for a new egg he goes back to the tee box….and the group behind us is pulling up. At that point, we should have just headed back to the clubhouse, asked for a raincheck and made our way home.

There are a few things I would like to highlight in the commandments of golf, if such a thing existed. Might need to write one as a living document and add it to the blog. Always, and I mean always, carry an extra ball with you. Why? Well from the tee, if you hit it O.B. (designated with white stakes) you will need to hit another one anyway. If you aren’t sure the ball is O.B., you would need to hit a provisional, again reloading. Reason enough to carry two balls wherever you go. Secondly, you can go O.B. or into a hazard with approach shots thus necessitating dropping and hitting another. So in my estimation, having 2 balls is generally better than having just 1 (there is a joke in there somewhere). The second thing, have consideration for the other parties trying to enjoy golf as well, especially when paired up with strangers. If you are constantly reloading and hitting additional shots, generally you are single handedly destroying the golf experience for those around you. I was pretty geeked up to play this round. Building some good golf momentum. Granted, I never score well at Trophy Club, but I was still amped to put down a good one. If we actually kept score for these two, I promise you, it’s at least double par when you count all the penalties. Not to mention, the number of balls sent packing, never to be found, staggering. If you play golf in this manner, having 2 balls is a minimum requirement. Probably need to add a sleeve to you sock as well.

Our round lasted exactly 5 hours. On the dot. On two occasions we had to wait on the next tee before teeing off. On both of those occasions, I tried to nip the reload in the bud. Here are the steps to the super secret advanced tip to move it along when paired with habitual line steppers:

  1. Make sure you are in the leading cart. Hit your tee shot, meander back to your cart, replacing your weapon. Avoid too much small talk. Eye contact is discouraged as well, think looking into the eyes of a wild animal and other rules of engagement.
  2. Stealthy, and I mean be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, get in the cart ready to drive after the last tee shot.
  3. After the shot is struck, start driving to your ball. If it’s a good one, give him “nice one, or that’ll play”, if not….the ubiquitous “I’ll just drop up there”, should follow, moving things along.

By hole 12, I was out of small talk. Cranky. Maybe by 15 they sensed our collective disconnect and started to pick it up a bit. I say that, but it’s completely possible they exhausted their seemingly endless supply of fresh golf balls. Anyway, we were finally waiting on the last two holes for greens and fairways to clear. On 18, I was mortified when the group in front were walking off the green. They were in their carts on the side of the green when a member of our group sends one in hot, clipping the cart path in front of them. All they could see was me, standing by my ball as I looked back to the offender. We were now really, “those guys”, guilt by association. The whole time I’m thinking, why would you ever hit a ball near people, with that swing, like ever? I’d be nervous at a driving range hitting next to this guy off of mats. If I was in that group and got hit, assault charges would surely be pending. Easy, I don’t advocate violence, I meant I would surely press charges for assault with a deadly weapon…exactly what I meant.

Hoping you found my undercover work illuminating. It’s a dangerous world out there in the burbs with all that fresh cut grass, McMansions, and 24 packs of Pinnacles at the ready. Again, we have a mission as a people to build that bridge beckoning the masses to join our sovereign cause. Willful and responsible play. Not the drunken golf orgy that so often plagues our great pastime. If you are a golf mentor to a friend who exhibits these golf character flaws, I implore you to help him. Give him insight and guidance. Preach the gospel of efficient play.


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