I was at my psychiatrist the other day for the old yearly mental, and we got to talking about drugs and sport. It’s a hot topic, what with Barry Bonds admitting that he “unknowingly” pumped up his biceps and probably shrunk his nads with ‘roids, and all the jawing about whether his records and others’ should have an asterisk*. Maybe Mickey Mantle’s records should have one, too, because he was almost certainly hammered when he set them. Sprinters have obvious anabolics in their spandex, cyclists swap blood (now that’s just weird), snowboarders inhale laughing gas, and golfers… What’s out there for us to straighten it up and get it to the hole? (Rim shot, please.) I highly doubt any Tour pros are doing ‘roids. But if, say, Charles Howell III were to dabble, it would be obvious — he’d gain a whopping four ounces, and someone like Corey Pavin could surprise himself and finally tear a piece of toast in half with his bare hands.
So, having been a firm believer in better living through chemistry since the ’70s (or maybe it was the ’80s — details are sketchy), I thought I’d make a suitable guinea pig. I have been prescribed pretty much every drug for pain ever made, and I always keep a few around in case of emergency, like a blister on my typing finger. Golf is unquestionably painful, so I thought I’d start with codeine, which is strictly entry-level when it comes to making you feel different. I took a bunch and fell asleep in the cart waiting for four morons to clear the third green. Strike that one off.
The next day, I tried hydrocodone, which showed promise — I played splendidly. But then at the turn it took me 30 minutes to take a leak. The guy in the next stall thought I was peeing a distress signal in Morse code. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what I scored on the sixth, which is kind of important. Nix that one, too.
I had one Percodan left over from knee surgery, and took it the following morning. This one would have worked if I could’ve figured a way to back out of my driveway without cracking myself up. I never made it off my property but had a splendid day nonetheless.
Psychiatrists will tell you that prescribing medication for people who just aren’t right is a trial-and-error affair. One of my early errors was Adderall, a drug usually prescribed for attention-deficit disorder (called “stupidity” when I went to school). Anyway, I had some lying around so I popped a couple and hit the links. I struck the ball very well but took 74 putts and sweated like a fat girl at her sister’s wedding. Also, the round lasted only 47 minutes.
Clearly, we needed something less speedy, so next up was Toprol, which I already take for stratospheric blood pressure. Beta-blockers were highly touted back when I was competing, said to lower the heart rate and reduce skeletal trembling. It did bugger-all for me — I still kept spazzing out over 18-inchers, and we were only playing for a 10-spot.
I wondered about the existing research on this kind of self-diagnosticism, which isn’t even a word, but the Adderall had worn off, so I lost interest. The bottom line: There’s no drug that can help anyone play better golf. Believe me, if I’d discovered one, you wouldn’t be reading this crap — I’d have mules out selling dime bags in country club parking lots. If there were a substance that took shots off handicaps, I’d look like Pablo Escobar.
You don’t have to be strong to play golf, or particularly aggressive, or be emotional and have tiny little genitals. But you do have to be awake, even just to talk about golf, which brings me to my final cautionary tale. A few years ago, before a telecast from Castle Pines, I was rummaging through my pill bottle for a Lipitor, to make sure my cholesterol didn’t kill me halfway up the 17th. I swallowed it and headed to work. At least I thought it was Lipitor — it was actually Ambien, a similar-looking pill that I call the velvet sledgehammer.
I did the broadcast from a coma on the flatbed of a cart, and to this day McCord claims it was my finest work. But don’t try it at home; remember, I’m an athlete.