Guardians of the Game

Well, here we go again. In its infinite wisdom, the USGA has decided the game has become too easy and, as usual, equipment is to blame. Naughty manufacturers.

Personally, I still find the game quite difficult and until they invent a club that makes the hole bigger, I say let every player everywhere have at it. The USGA seems to have forgotten that 99.9 percent of golfers need all the help they can get.

So what if the scores on the PGA Tour are getting lower? Athletes are running faster every year and I don't hear anyone suggesting that we should stick lead up their shorts to slow them down. These pompous outbursts of verbal flatulence from golf's ruling bodies are becoming irritating to me, so I thought I'd ask the opinion of a man who I consider the highest authority in all of golf.

The gentleman in question is Major General (ret.) Sir Richard Gussett, known to his friends as "Dickie." He presides over the most exclusive golf course in the world, a club so secretive that its whereabouts are unknown to all but a select few.

Scrought's Wood refused the British Royal charter back in the 1850s, citing the fact that they wouldn't want to be associated with people who behaved like royalty -- a move which, while it seemed like madness at the time, now looks prophetic, to say the least. They also refused to have anything to do with the Royal and Ancient, believing themselves to be the true guardians of the Rules of Golf, a position that they insist they hold to this day and rightly so, say I.

No new members have been accepted into the club since 1960 and, due to attrition, there are only 19 members remaining. The criteria required for membership are incredibly difficult to meet. They include a blood oath of secrecy, the ability to consume vast quantities of single malt Scotch, and a wife who thinks you died some years ago.

It is my fervent hope that, if I am spared to reach the qualifying age of 60, I will be allowed the privilege.

The club's one concession to modern technology at Scrought's Wood is a satellite dish because the members worship the game like a religion and subsequently record and review every broadcast of every event.

Uncle Dickie and a couple of his cronies were watching the U.S. Open last year when the USGA ran its commercial, "We didn't give birth to the game, but we've been its legal guardian for the last 100 years." That sent a few good swallows of Guinness back out through some noses, I can tell you, and ruined a couple of magnificent handlebar mustaches.

Old-fashioned they may be, but unenlightened they are not, so it is with great pleasure and the kind permission of the man I am proud to call "Uncle Dickie" that the following correspondence is reproduced:

Davey, my boy,

So nice to hear from you and thank you for inquiring about your Auntie Myrtle. Ninety years old last week and the old boiler is still fit enough to drain a bottle of Bushmills' in a single sitting, bless her. She sends her love. Now to business, old chap. You are indeed correct to be worried about the latest ominous rumblings from the bowels of the USGA. As always, any change they make will be for the worse.

In the name of all that's right and drawing back to the fairway, just who the hell do they think they are? Don't they realize that there were only two Rules in the original game? "Thou shalt play the ball as it lies"; and "Thou shalt play the course as thou findest it."

These two Rules gave birth to some of the greatest technological developments in the sport, all of which were totally necessary. These latest clubs are simply a part of the evolution of the game and must be protected at all costs. We have lost too much already.

Take, for instance, Hamish McShug's patented splatterguard niblick (circa 1835), which was rendered obsolete when the Royal Asses poked their noses in and deemed the cow pat an immovable obstruction. Of course, you and I know the cow pat is always immovable, especially when you are trying to get it out of your britches, hence Hamish's splatterguard.

Even then, if you let it dry and use a stiff brush, you're whistling Dixie, as they say over there in Yankee land.

But listen old chap, there may yet be a silver lining to this cloud of hot air.

Personally, I feel this latest attempt to halt the natural evolution of the game may result in something of a peasants' revolt and perhaps we here at Scrought's Wood will finally have our say and sanity will prevail.

There may be 35 clubs in my bag, but every one of them is vital. They have about an equal chance of taking my oversized driver as they do parting me from my rutting iron because they are totally and equally necessary to my game.

You remember the rutting iron, don't you, Davey boy? (It's not what you think, you evil-minded little bugger.) Let's say your ball has found itself in a wheel rut. Your standard niblick simply won't do the job to extricate it. Hence, the rutting iron.

Just imagine if we at the Wood took our rightful place as guardians of the sacred game. The Bible has but 10 rules, so why the hell should a simple game have 34 with a 600-page book of decisions?

Here's our decisions book: "Hit it and stop whining." That should speed up play. A golf course is a canvas, my boy, upon which the best and worst players may create their masterpieces.

One must always remember: A low score is never an insult to the golf course, but rather a compliment to the player.

Davey, we here at the Wood are delighted with your progress in the USA. Your broadcasting position serves us well by giving you the opportunity to make average golfers aware of how this sacred game should be played, despite what the so-called "ruling bodies" may say. I wouldn't trust them to rule a straight line. So, be vocal, dear boy, and make us proud. In 20 years' time, perhaps you will, as a member of the "Holy Wood," take your seat on the committee that will restore the game to its original glory.

Or, perhaps you will sit in the clubhouse and drool, like Bertie Featherstone did for years before he popped his clogs two weeks ago. Old Bertie was the second death we've suffered in recent weeks, the first being Penfold, our beloved greenkeeper, who you will remember as the "Sod Father." He was laid to rest in the staff plot behind the 13th green. As is our custom here at Scrought's Wood, three bottles of 30-year-old McCallan's single malt -- deducted, of course, from Penfold's last check -- was poured over his grave. Naturally, we drank it first.

As for Squadron Leader Featherstone, old Bertie wanted himself stuffed and placed for all eternity upon his customary barstool in the snug. The only difference that we've noticed thus far is that he has stopped drooling and falls off considerably less often. Also, his breast pocket makes a frightfully good ashtray.

Well, that's the news for now, so toodle pip, my boy, and don't be a stranger.

Yours sincerely,

Gussett of the Wood

More From the Web

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN