If you’ve got to pay to watch professional golf, why not have pro golf pay you?

June 8, 2011

Should you attend the U.S. Open at Congressional, one of the first questions that you need to ask yourself is this: “Do I want to avoid getting hit by a golf ball, or should I try to place myself strategically on the course in order to increase my odds of getting some face time on the Golf Channel, SportsCenter, YouTube, Facebook or the local six o’clock news?” If you decide to go with the latter, you’re probably in need of some kind of therapy, and I should probably make it clear from the outset that no one has ever successfully sued a player, tournament organizer or the Tour for injuries sustained after being hit. Look on the back of the ticket, it’ll tell you you’re assuming the risk. I’m paraphrasing, but it goes like this:

“Golf is one of the few games in which spectators actually get to share the playing arena with the athlete, and as a consequence an occasional member of such public will likely get his or her head stoved in… So stop whining, and walk it off.”

That’s not to say that tournaments don’t have insurance that’ll cover your medical costs, but no compensatory damages are collectable. The legal department made me say that. They make me say a lot of things, and they also don’t let me say other things.

Basically, if you want to sit on the bench, you have to be willing to take one for the team. Or something like that. (It happens more often than you’d think, but only on the pro-am day, which obviously you’ll want to avoid unless you’ve invested in one of those Explosive Ordinance Defusal suits worn by the soldiers in “The Hurt Locker.” A well-struck Pro V1 carries energy similar to that of a subsonic .308 round without the penetration, so it hurts to get hit, and it’ll leave a mark similar to the one issued to me by She Who Must Be Obeyed the last time I used her tea-towels to clean up the beagle vomit on the backseat of my truck.

Now realistically the chances of getting hit by a Tour pro are infinitesimal (for those of Irish descent, that means they’re pretty damn small), but if you’re of a mind to git-er-done, there are a few basic steps you can take to ensure that you have the best chance possible. Clearly though, you should try to be selective about exactly who’s on the other end of the incident. There is no point in taking a pellet in the pillbox if the damn thing has been hit by Bobby Clampett. No, to give such a sacrifice a chance of being worth any kind of reward, you’ll need to ensure you throw yourself under the right bus. Like Tiger, or Phil, or…uh, Phil. In fact, just go with Phil, because he has a track record of being kind of a sucker for a good piece of writhing in agony, and he’ll pretty much give you the entire contents of his pockets and the gum he keeps stuck to the back of his Callaway belt buckle.

Anyhoo, after impact, you should shriek like the right-hand judge on “Dancing with the Stars” and hit the deck like Paris Hilton’s drawers. If you have one of those douchey little fold-up canvas chairs from which you can perform this dismount, so much the better. Just make sure you don’t stick the landing. Instead, act like you’ve been torpedoed in the temple by a heat-seeking Haskell, and don’t despair – there’s a good chance you’re not dead. Now let’s make the most of what happens next. After you’ve gathered yourself, try to roll over the ball so they have to get Mark Russell, or one of the other Southern tournament directors to come over and make a ruling. You need someone with an accent out of “Deliverance,” and while there is no real reason to be frightened, I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stay clenched up while these guys are around, if you get my drift. You should then roll off the ball, mumbling something toward Phil that lets him know that you’re hurt but you’ll be OK.

At that point, there’s a good chance he’ll “Michael Jackson” you – that is, he’ll give you a single golf glove from his bag and pat you on the ass. This is the absolute minimum you should expect. If you want to push it (or you need an upgrade) step on your iPhone and smash the screen. Phil will almost certainly pay for it if you tell him it was hit by the ball. And if that doesn’t work, punch yourself in the nads when he’s not looking and weepily inform him that his errant shot just cost you any chance you might have had of bringing new PGA Tour fans into the world. With any luck, he’ll panic and immediately hand over enough cash to put your imaginary brats all the way through college. Did I mention how much I love this country?