Golf is both a great game and a strange, frustrating game. Physically at times, and mentally much more often.
It can be a difficult game. Plus, I’m not sure I like all of the games’ rules, especially when they are changed.
I’m having trouble getting used to being able to putt with the flag stick in the cup. I mean, it used to be that you were penalized if you did such a thing. Now the USGA rule means leaving the flagstick in is no longer considered cheating or breaking tradition. Hmmm . . . Seems strange seeing this on the PGA Tour while watching the televised Tour events.
Now why the change? It is supposed to help speed up play? Is it supposed to give you a better visual line to the cup? Is it just supposed to give you a better chance to make the putt (serve as a backboard to help it fall into the cup), or even help improve misses?
Oh well, I guess I’m just a traditionalist. When I putt I have enough problems; I don’t need something else to distract me.
Another change is . . . it’s no longer said that they “halved the hole’’ or the “hole was halved’’ in match play; now the term is just a tie, although the explanation in the new rules says previous terms “halved’’ and “All Square’’ are still part of the rule book and acceptable, if necessary. If necessary?
The term “dormie,’’ which dates back to the mid-1800s, is still acceptable, though it has been dropped from the Rules of Golf. I always thought that was a great term in match play. Again it can still be used, “if necessary.’’
What I find amazing is that I’m guessing someone gets paid for coming up with these changes.
Still, I love the game. I really love golf . . . But I just wish it would love me back.
I used to have a 10-11 handicap way, way back when….when I was much younger and much more limber and didn’t have such a bad knee, and was playing more rounds of golf. And, the handicap was from a relative easy municipal course in Michigan City. And…OK, so I’ve mastered the excuses. OK, you get it . . . I hear you!
Still, I’ve taken that handicap to a 25, maybe higher. Ok, at times much higher.
What’s so strange and frustrating about the game is that one day you might feel fit and loose and things go your way; the next day you’re really stiff, the swing is not in sync, and you might find yourself yelling FORE a few too many times.
And you might ask yourself why you got out of bed that day, let alone deciding to go to the golf course, with the possibility of punishing yourself.
Some of my longest hits have a tendency to land in the wrong fairway, giving new meeting to the word “slice’’ and yes I’m familiar with the term “shank.’’ I can understand a slice once in awhile…but a
‘’shank’’? Gads. That’s just ugly and embarrassing.
A friend of mine, a golf doctor of sorts, told me to always relax, take deep breaths while approaching my golf ball. Waggle the club. Forget about what you’ve read, like there’s a wrong way and a right way….or that you must keep your left arm straight when you hit your tee-ball.
Since there are so many mind traps in the game of golf, you really shouldn’t think about your swing or anything else….just hit the ball. Hit that white pill, and then chase after it.
Yep, just concentrate on hitting that darn ball. And, oh yes, keep your head down. That’s what my friend told me.
Uh-huh, easier said than done.
(And since I’m still nursing a severe right pinkie injury that required nearly 3 months in therapy, I’m just hoping I can grip the club the way I did. I might have to go to baseball grip. Can’t wait to see how that works out.)
Since I no longer have the distance off the tee I had many years back, when I had more stamina and energy, as well as “swing-baby, let ’er rip attitude,’’ it now makes sense to play from the Senior Tees.
Hey, Jack Nicklaus says it’s OK. So there!
The Golden Bear says just think about having fun. That’s what the game is all about.
Still, playing from the Senior Tees (yeah, I know, they’re just a few feet or so behind the ladies tee….but hey….I’ve hit a tee-ball there from the white tees on occasion; so I’m familiar with those red markers.
Anyway, I’ve found that playing from the Senior Tees is really cool. I’m relaxed, it’s fun and I can be a little more competitive. Yeah, really — that can be a lot of fun. Even if I don’t score all that well, at least it makes for more fun.
I even swing the driver much slower and smoother, and I have a lot of spring in my step. Not worrying about anything really helped my swing and my game.
(Of course, that’s no guarantee that I will score better.)
There’s something really good about the feeling you get when you’re hitting 30 or 40 yards in front of some others and knowing that for your next shot on a par-4 hole (at least the shorter ones) that you might be hitting a hitting a 6- or 7-iron instead of maybe a 3-wood or a hybrid.
Really, this Senior Tee gig is the most fun I’ve had on the course in a long, long time. And I’ve been doing it for about 2 years.
Sure, I can still play from the white tees, but if Mr. Nicklaus says it’s OK to play from the Senior Tees, then bubba….that’s good enough for me. Step aside ‘cause he I come!
From now on, I’ll tell some of those younger guys I occasionally get a chance to golf with that I’m playing from the Senior Tees. I’m certainly old enough, you know. If they chuckle….I’ll just say “Well, that’s the way it’s going to be….but if you are 55 or older you’re welcome to join me.’’ And, gads, I’m older than that.
Now if only I could putt better . . .
Still, I think I just might be able to beat some of those guys if I’m playing from such more friendly tees. At least I should be more competitive with many of the older guys in the 70-and-up age range.
And should I top a drive, well . . . I just hope it gets past the women’s tee.
So there!
—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at or by calling 317 460-8018.