Monday, I took a day off work to play in an annual charity golf tournament for my wife’s company since she does not play. It’s a terrible burden that I have to shoulder, but one which I’ll gladly do in the name of…um…cough, cough….charity.
And while this was a friendly game of golf among mostly men who could not even remotely be considered professional-amateurs, there were still some pretty good prizes such as free rounds of golf ($65) as well as lots of donated gear (by local vendors UPS, PGA Tour Superstore and more…) such as $250 drivers, balls etc. This tournament, not being open to the general public, is really the only chance that average guys like myself (read: dads with too little time to play very often) will ever get to play against similarly skilled golfers for relatively nice prizes. If an average Joe tried to play in a public tournament (which I have), you’ll end up playing semi-pro or retired professionals who will suck up all the prizes and get mad at you for taking more than six or seven swings at the ball on each hole.
So this was kind of a big deal for us and most of us were taking this tournament seriously despite any “Have Fun! It’s for Charity!” hooplah the organizers were dishing out.
This year, there were four players on a team and we played typical scramble rules. This means that each player hits the ball and then everyone on the team hits their next ball from whichever previous shot was the best. So, if I hit it to the 300 yard marker, and everyone else hit to the 280, then we’d our next shot from the 300 yard spot, and so on and so forth until we got it in the hole.
We didn’t really bother with handicaps, which adjust an individual’s score up or down automatically to keep everyone on the same scoring plane, however the men all hit from one set of tees, while the ladies hit from their tees, which are closer to the pin. The thinking here is that the extra distance women get from hitting closer to the hole will basically even out any muscular benefit the men have and thus you’ll have four relatively equally skilled players on the same team even if one or more of them are women.
I said that was the “thinking,” but in actuality, it’s not that cut and dried. The fourth player on our team was a lady in her early 50s I’d say. She had all the necessary gear and she claimed to have been playing for a couple of years along with taking lessons at the local PGA Tour Superstore. So the three of us guys were thinking, “OK, she probably knows how to play. How bad could it be?”
Unfortunately, all that preparation didn’t translate on the golf course, where she could barely hit fifty yards and the only time she helped our effort was on a Par 3 where all of us men-folk put our balls into the sand (hee heeJ). Her tee, being nearly 40 yards closer, and to the right of the hazard, rolled right up onto the green and what was probably going to be a bogey for us, turned into a birdie. The rest of her game was so bad though, that I finally stopped even trying to be a cheerleader for her and started pointing out that if she hit it where she wanted to hit it, she would roll right into the water–which she did several times. So thanks.
At the end of the day, our foursome came in 6th place out of 12 teams, so right in the middle, and the only prize I got was a Titleist towel for my bag (approx. value: $8). However, the three of us men who played weren’t bad and I’m convinced that had we an equal fourth partner, we’d have made it into the top three and garnered some good prizes. And while I harbor no resentment towards our lady-player, I would just like to tell all those would-be players out there that being a newbie on the golf course is just fine…at times. I mean, we were all new players at one time or the other. But when there is money and/or prizes on the line, and you know you won’t add any value to the team, sit it out. Don’t weigh the whole team down just because you wanted to be part of the club (no pun intended).