Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The next time you are visiting an unfamiliar golf course, and some well-meaning local dolt tells you that, "everything breaks toward the ocean," or "toward the mountain," or anywhere else, I think you should ask them why they think that might be. If the answer is anything other than, "because the slope is that way," you need to thank them, and back away slowly.

I remember playing at the 1993 PGA Tour Qualifying School in Palm Springs, and being advised by one of the bag room guys that everything broke toward the town of Indio. The guy, whom I felt looked like an idiot savant type, wouldn't tell me in which direction Indio lay, but he told me that by the time I had played the course, I would have it figured it out for myself. He tapped the side of his nose, winked, took a swig from his Mickey's Big Mouth, and disappeared into the bag room.

After playing my first practice round, I deduced, in Galileo-like fashion, that the city of Palm Springs must be completely surrounded by Indio, which might well be a Native American word meaning, "the rest of the United States." The guy wasn't an idiot savant I thought, he was just an idiot. But later that same day I was out running on the streets around my hotel, when I witnessed two cars in a drive-by gun battle, after which both cars did indeed break toward Indio, so for a while there, I was a little confused.

I can't figure out why people believe that the ball can somehow be influenced by something other than slope, grain, or wind. I know the moon causes the tide to come in and go out, but how the hell are you supposed to know where the moon is in the middle of the day? I'm on my way back from Hawaii as I write, where I, like everyone except Brad Faxon, had a little difficulty reading the greens. You could hog-tie that boy, and he'd still make everything he looked at, probably with his nose. I have to be careful when I'm interviewing him, because if we look at each other at the same time, it looks like we're schnozzle fencing. His honker is bigger than mine, but I'm pretty sure I have him in that vital nostril-capacity department.

Anyway, I think my favorite red herring is the old ocean line. Virtually all the locals told me that the grain followed the sun, and everything sloped toward the sea. I told them, that considering how hot and bothered the grass must get after a day of sun-following, I was surprised that the whole golf course didn't take advantage of those wicked slopes, and go for a wee swim, every evening after sunset. That didn't go down too well.

I mean, for the most part, these are intelligent people (and presumably rotten putters), but it's not just in Hawaii that they reside. Take Pebble Beach for example. These poor Japanese duffers are paying four hundred bucks or whatever to play, for some cretin to tell them, in very slow, loud English, that, "EVERYTHING.... BREAKS.... TOWARD.... THE.... OCEAN." Then, they bow politely, and spend the next six hours watching 50 percent of the putts they hit break toward the Atlantic. It's a conspiracy I tell you, but for some reason there are millions of willing participants. I feel it a duty, at the very least, to expose this evil plot, and make a proclamation, so that the poor, duped, huddled masses may find some comfort in the truth, and finally come to believe in the great Isaac Newton. Here goes:

Dear gravitationally challenged friends,

Bermudagrass grows in any direction it chooses. If you stand still on it for long enough, it will grow right up your you know what, taking over your body to such an extent, that eventually you might have to fertilize your hair, and mow your teeth. It follows water, slope, and good-looking women, and it does care about your ball, which often it will deliberately shove slightly uphill, just to screw with your mind, and make you believe the whacked-out dorkwit in the bag room.

Next, as no doubt most of you will already have noticed, once your ball has fallen into the hole, it will very rarely, if ever, fall out. For the same reason, an anvil, when dropped by the Roadrunner, will never shoot straight upwards, decapitating the annoying, scrawny, honking little bastard. It always, always, plummets straight down, and lands right on top of Wile. E. Coyote's head. It's called gravity, and it's also the reason we don't fall off the planet, which I'm led to believe is spherical, or pretty close to it.

So the next time anyone tells you that anything breaks anywhere, try hitting him or her with an anvil. If they fall up, you can call me down on the telephone, and tell me that I'm a low-up, dirty rotten liar.

And another thing, if you're playing in Scotland and some whizzened old caddie points a crooked giner in a field and says, "The sheep are lying doon, that means it's going to rain," remember where you are. You're in Scotland, and it's always going to rain. The sheep are lying down because they're either tired or dead.

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