Next Question, Please

Next Question, Please

I’ve been doing a lot of speaking recently, some of which, unlike my writing, actually makes sense. You know the sort of thing. Some big corporation wants to entertain its clients on the golf course and then at a dinner afterward, so they hire the services of some big-time Tour player or announcer.

Of course, these people are expensive and hard to get, so often they end up with me instead. Call me old-fashioned, but I really enjoy myself at these affairs, probably because I like yelling at people, drinking heavily, eating too much, and getting paid for it.

Now, people are naturally curious, but they are also a little predictable, in that they frequently ask the same questions. The two most popular inquiries are: What is it like to work with Gary McCord (who was invariably their first choice for the evening anyway), and what’s my favorite golf course? So for your enlightenment this month, I thought I’d answer both.

The first is easier so I’ll start with McCord. You don’t know the half of it, I can assure you. The man is a menace to society. To think that millions of law-abiding Americans put their trust in such a man and even consider for an instant that what he says might be true. We are talking about a social deviant who has been known on occasion to draw up — before a telecast, mind you — a list of six appalling words, with full intent of getting them all on air. There is no adjective too awful or verb too vile for his evil mind and, frankly, his treatment of the Queen’s English is sometimes more than I can stand.

Words like “bulbous” and “putrid” are bad enough when used within context, but when he announces that he is going to try to get the words “crevice” and “crusty” into the same sentence, it’s enough to drain my double-A’s and make my antenna droop. But even this pales into insignificance compared to his worst word-strangling, which comes in what we call our “hole openings.” (Don’t laugh, that’s actually what we call them.) You know, when a tower announcer, at the top of the show, describes his hole for you. (I’m sorry, but there is no way to write that without it sounding very rude.) McCord will invariably do something like this:

“Hi, I’m Gary McCord (as if we didn’t recognize him), and today I’ll be giving you my expert opinion on the 16th hole, a cantankerous dogleg left, blah blah….”

Wait a minute. I’m thinking “cantankerous” is an adjective, used to describe an animate object of some kind, not a golf hole, which just sort of sits there and waits to be played. You try telling that to Old Handlebars, though, and you’ll receive a dissertation on the word’s Latin origin, which, although completely fictitious, will seem at the time entirely convincing.

Even Bobby Clampett, who should know better, gets sucked in. Earlier this year, he described the 15th at Harbour Town as a “Long John Silver par five.” Presumably this means it’s a partially blind hole with a wooden dogleg and a parrot behind the green.

At The Masters this year, the Reverend Bob was commenting on Greg Norman’s poor scoring on the par fives when he said, “Normanly, Greg abolishes the par fives.” Whoa, I thought, no wonder he’s won more money than anyone else! Taking potshots at Bobby is not as much fun because, unlike McCord, he refuses to fire back.

Right. Where was I? Oh yes, McCord, the silly git. There also is the matter of his clothing. The other day, he came mincing into the TV compound wearing a pair of shoes, the likes of which I had never before seen. It is of no small mystery to me that he is beaten up so seldom, for these were a pair of, how shall I say, not brothel sneakers or brothel creepers, but brothel cruisers, I believe would be the best description.

They forced the eye northward to discover the face of the lunatic that might have the courage to wear them. A smiling face that was. The sort of smile that said, “My life is perfect, how’s yours, shorty?” I looked at them for about 10 seconds, with a sort of a mule-staring-at-a-new-gate denial, and said, “What the hell have you got on the end of your legs?”

“Those,” he answered, “are a pair of genuine, bona fide Norwegian halibut stalkers, and don’t laugh, they probably cost more than your car!” I was thinking, with soles that thick, they probably get better mileage, too.

Add to this ghastly footwear some kind of ridiculous hat, along with the mirrored sunglasses, the mustache, and a Tommy Bahama shirt hung out over a pair of moi peligrosso pants, very dangerous trousers indeed. He frequently looks like a demented South American dictator — Generalissimo Atrocity Garcia — pacing back and forth in his tower, gesticulating wildly as he announces himself to the threshold of pain and back down again.

Another of his favorite tricks is to ask me to read some bizarre breaking putt on the very green that he has been sitting behind for hours, but I have just reached. He always picks a putt that I haven’t had a chance to look at — for fear of putting some player’s nose out of joint — generally teeing me up like a Strata with, “I know you’ve been studying this one, Fairway Feherty, so why don’t you bring our viewers up to date.” Of course I’m forced into having a stab at it from 50 yards, and when I shank the call, he about wets his Depends with mirth.

They say what goes around comes around, and I have a cunning plan. Now that His Evilness is a Senior Tour player, he is at the mercy of us announcers once more, and he has made the fatal error of asking yours truly to caddie for him this month in Dallas. It could be the end of his second playing career.

The humiliation he suffered at the Ameritech Senior, which was on our CBS air in July, will seem insignificant by comparison. By the time I’ve finished with him, he’ll be, as Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean) once said, “Like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.”

If he gets anywhere near contention, which he probably will, I intend to feign heart failure and flop around like a trout on his putting line. Of course, he will chip over me, but there are any number of ways for a caddie to bring down his player, and I intend to invent a few new ones.

Okay, that about covers the first question, and now that I come to think of it, I’ve forgotten the second one. Oh well, maybe I’ll see you at dinner some time.

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