Golf's fun. I play it some. Two, maybe three times a year. I'd like to play it more often. What's not to like? I haven't seen a golf course yet that wasn't a whole lot prettier than the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. Plus, I like riding around in the cart.
Some guys like to carry a lot of clubs. Not me. I'm out there to play golf, not lift weights. I use three woods, a five-iron and a putter. From 150 yards out, I use a wood. From 150 yards in, I use the five. From the sand, I pick it up and I throw it out. What do I look like, Lawrence of Arabia? If I don't like where my ball has landed, I move it somewhere nicer. Some people may call that cheating. I call it creative accounting. I hit the ball into the air about half the time, and breeze through 18 right around the magic 115. Plenty of hits and plenty of fresh air.
If I'm not playing, I'm watching it on TV. I've come to think of myself as a golfing kind of guy. I'm looking for suits with an elastic waistband.
So you can understand how excited I was at the chance to go to the Kemper.
(Not just because I'd waited all my life to see what kind of golf shoes Vic Regalado wears; I also had to know if Peter Oosterhuis is as funny in person as he seemed on TV.)
Friends, I have bad news.
Going to a golf tournament is not what I thought it'd be.
First of all, from what I've read, I missed a hell of a finish. I was there for it. I just didn't see it.
You get the choice at a golf tournament: You can either follow a particular player from hole to hole. Or, you can hang around a particular hole and wait as particular players come through.
But if Bill Glasson and Larry Mize aren't playing together, and you want to follow both of them from hole to hole, unless you're one of those fortunate few who can have out-of-body experiences, you're in serious trouble.
You've got TV.
Or you've got bupkus.
What I remember most vividly about the golf wasn't the drama as Glasson put Mize's feet to the fire, but how strange it was that I was able to stand within 20 or 30 feet of the players, but I was unable to see them without a periscope. The way people crowd around the greens you'd think Brooks Brothers was having a clearance sale.
And the quiet!
I didn't know that golf was originally designed to be played in the Library of Congress.
There must have been 3,500 guys in Day-Glo red pants telling you to be quiet, stand still and don't sneeze under penalty of death. The golfers have to have quiet, you know.
Excuse me, sir, but you really should move if you feel you're going to have to breathe in the next minute. John Yancy's lining up the treacherous 16-incher that can bring him within 32 strokes of the leader, and it wouldn't be fair for your selfish biological needs to distract him.
You can't see them. You can't talk in their presence. Anywhere close to the green you're expected to sit or kneel so you don't disturb them, then after you do that, half the time you can't see the hole, so why bother getting that close in the first place?
They get applause for almost every piddly little thing they do. Put it onto the green -- even if it's 75 feet from the hole and they'd need a grenade launcher to get it close -- and people applaud. Off the tee it's worse. Off the tee you've got to kill someone in the gallery not to get a healthy round of applause, and then, if you've killed someone who didn't have an elastic waistband, you'll be praised anyway.
No wonder golfers are such prima donnas. Who else gets treatment like this, other than Prince Charles?
I thought that seeing the golfers up close would show me a personal side of them that TV didn't. So, to get that personal sense of them, to really identify with them on an emotional level, to feel their joy, their pain, their struggle, maybe even ask them where they get those swell pants, I hung around at the sixth green on Sunday. Coming off that green the golfers would have to pass directly by me to reach the seventh tee. Pretty decent spot, you know?
I watched eight different threesomes come and go including all the leaders. The sixth hole is a par-5; it yielded plenty of birdies, even an eagle to Craig Stadler while I was there. (I couldn't see the putts drop, of course. I was out of periscope range.) I figured a lot of happy campers would pass by on the walk from green to tee, smile and say howdy.
The Walrus? The allegedly fun-loving, gregarious, fabuloso Walrus? Blanko.
They make no eye contact whatsoever.
They walk by you as if you aren't there, and after you've been quiet for so long, it's not unreasonable for them to believe you actually aren't there.
It's the waltz of the pod people.
Of all of them, from Glasson to Mize to Pavin to Norman to Tinker to Evers to Chance, only the courteous veteran Hale Irwin said anything to any of the 60 or so people lining the path. And that was in response to a man silently (of course) holding out a program for Irwin to autograph.
"Please, sir, not now, we're playing the game," Irwin said.
Playing the game?
Having lots of fun?
I have seen the future of golf and it is robotics.
If the officials of the tour are wondering where their new stars might come from, how about the General Motors assembly line?
Give me Fuzzy, or give me bowling!