During the course of my golf career I have come to love, cherish and, at times, despise many of the things my diehard golf comrades embody.
For example, that lady who keeps running across the 18th green at the British Open without any clothes - what a dazzling display of showwomanship [Sorry, the only picture we could publish involves a man, Ed].
That takes courage and I always salute the effort.
But then there are the 'golf zealots' - those who make overcharged and pathetic attempts to turn the game into a religion but end up raping the game of its integrity and ultimately turn it into a twisted form of pagan idolatry [don't pull your punches, say what you really think, Ed]. Those who wear performance enhancing golf socks, memorize instructional 'bibles,' and hang miniature golf bags that glow in the dark from their earlobes - those are the golf zealots. But the evil doesn't stop there.
Unlike hockey players, it used to be that you would hardly recognise golf zealots. When a hockey player steps into your presence your nasal passage immediately burns with the rancid smell of rotten, sweat-permeated equipment - an aroma that easily out-duels even the deadliest carcinogens known to man.
Not only that, but you'll see only three teeth in his mouth (all of them chipped), you'll notice a definite speech problem (such as 'Me get puck') and you'll see wooden splinters protruding from his scalp. It all leads to a definitive conclusion: he's in the habit of shooting rubber projectiles at fellow opponents who are no doubt equally as mangled and linguistically challenged.
Thanks to a host of unfortunate attributes, golf zealots have become recognisable figures as well. This is how you will know them.
Golf zealots realise that it is much more traumatic suffering a lost ball than say, accidentally shooting their grandmother. This attitude toward the holistic health problems of others is rampant among golf zealots. To punctuate the point, most golf zealots are unaware that Sid Vicious is no longer with us and they've certainly never heard of AIDS. Why do you think they have yet to come up with a logoed golf condom? Yes, death has no sting when compared to a brand new ball slicing into densely wooded areas.
2. Failure to appreciate nature
A true golf zealot does not hold any admiration for trees, rocks, water, or anything else that has been naturally created. Rather, these objects are enemies that oppose the zealot's virtuous goals. It is for this very reason that Tiger Woods employs a crew of 'rock removal specialists' to rid himself of undue penalty in times of granite judgement (remember the Phoenix Open a couple years back, when, with a little help, he rolled a boulder the size of Montana out of his way?). These objects of nature are cruel, heartless and evil - except for those 'chosen few' that mercifully produce a fortunate ricochet.
Golf zealots find more joy in receiving gifts of multicolored golf balls, battery operated scorekeeping devices, or gaudy golf jewellery than if they would find a cure for cancer. Useless golf trinkets are holy items to the golf zealot and should be worshiped with utmost reverence. It is not uncommon for golf zealots to build 'golf shrines' in their basements, adorning them with ball marker collections, logoed spoons, and autographed flags.
A true golf zealot knows every last thing there is to know about golf - the history, the equipment, the courses, - and, even after they've had 14 single malt scotches after their round they can recite (with pinpoint precision) 'vital' statistical information from centuries past. For example, a true golf zealot would know that on no other occasion, except on the 14th tee at Muirfield in the 1901 Open Championship, did James Braid ever pick his nose directly before playing a shot. And even then, many would argue that it was only a scratch.
Perhaps the most deplorable characteristic of a golf zealot is that deep down s/he believes that any person who would willingly oppose the traditions of the game should be killed, buried, and turned into a greenside mound to help refurbish a golf hole. Interestingly, a number of today's top golf course architects have high staff turnover rates and are, based on the liberal usage of knolls or sculptured mounding seen on their courses, obviously committed to the cause.
The golf zealot commits shameful acts for which they can be convicted and condemned by non-golfing adversaries. Unfortunately, these twisted zealots will just shrug off the charges and they'll continue to invade pro shops around the globe. In the midst of their 'righteous' crusades they'll purchase hideous earrings that are shaped like golf balls, golf bags, and flagsticks.
And most importantly, they will not miss tee-times due to accidental deaths of relatives who were not followers of the game anyway. Of course, because they are 'religious,' they'll salute the hearse on its way to the cemetery (but they'll be standing atop the 5th tee while doing so).
[Hang on, you've just finished describing me. You're fired, Ed]
Andrew Penner is a golf pro in Calgary, Ontario but for some inexplicable reason, doesn't have many pupils
|| 10 - MAY 2002