#strokes

Golf is hard. Throughout most of the PGA Tour season, professional golfers make a mockery of difficult golf courses like Cog Hill or TPC Deere Run or even Torrey Pines. Tour players hit booming tee shots, majestic approaches, and show a delicate touch around the greens while posting low scores. The U.S. Open is an annual test that frustrates even the best players in the world. Television viewers often enjoy this Father’s Day Weekend tradition to be reminded that even professional golfers cuss or slam clubs after a wayward long iron or three-putt from inside fifteen feet.

Much has been written in the aftermath of the U.S. Open that it was an unfair test of golf and that the non-traditional setting on a links-style course was not aesthetically pleasing. Patrons on hand at Chambers Bay did not enjoy the sight lines fans would typically enjoy when viewing a golf tournament. The USGA continued to focus on water conservation practices, and fairways were not smooth and lush like the faux astroturf at Augusta National.

My only complaint about the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay was the extreme precision required for every shot, and the randomness for how the ball bounced and rolled away for any imperfect stroke. Mishits were sometimes rewarded by rolling further down the fairway or out of harms way. Too often however, solid shots were hit slightly off target, dancing temporarily on the green, before ultimately rolling fifty yards away from the treacherous hole location. Golf is hard and frustrating enough in the perfect conditions. Players should not be mentally taxed even further to anxiously wonder where each ball will rest.

I am all for introducing a new venue to the championship golf circuit. We have witnessed enough major events at well-known courses like Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, or Oakmont. I appreciate the creativity to include Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, and Bethpage Black. All are stern, demanding tests worthy of championship status and will capture my attention each weekend.

Not being home for a round of golf with Dad for Father’s Day Weekend was also difficult. Most of my rounds (much like most of my dining out experiences) have been as a single. I will call around to a handful of local courses in the morning in hopes of securing a spot on the tee sheet. I miss those days playing the home course with Dad where we each know the best way to attack, but more importantly, to enjoy the day on the links together.

My Father’s Day Weekend round of golf for June 2015 is certainly one I will remember. Mostly because I wasnt at home to play in the morning with Dad at Terrace Hill before returning to watch the back nine of the U.S. Open and devour delicious thin crust pizza. I was invited to play golf with work. I foolishly assumed that it would be a regular vendor/customer Saturday 18. What I didn’t expect was to participate in a large shotgun start outing for a Korean Missionary Fundraiser. I didn’t understand anything in the pre-competition announcement other than the words “HAVE FUN and RELAX” and am not sure why my gift pack included toothpaste and sushi. Prizes after the round included trophies, air purifiers, and a rice cooker.

I have had better success lately playing golf on my own and being paired with reasonable folks for the afternoon. I am trying to play at as many different courses as possible before settling on any favorites. It really isn’t any different from how I eventually found my favorite whiskey bar, but still frequent many other local watering holes so I don’t end up at the same place all the time.

The closest thing I’ve got to a favorite spot for golf is at the Navy Golf Course in nearby Cypress, and it has now been far too long since I last teed it up at the Destroyer. Upon my first round playing there during California “winter” I was greeted with a warm hello and plenty of local expertise. The course offers an interesting layout that requires the use of every club in the bag and holes that turn to the right and left. The greens roll true and the terrain allows for an enjoyable walk. The best part is actually knowing someone there and feeling welcome to join a friendly foursome. I am looking forward to the next time I can combine leisurely exercise and competition along with good company and a cold beverage.


WHY DO GOLFERS YELL “FORE!”

There is a long-standing belief that golf was invented by the Scottish, sometime in the 14th or 15th centuries. This maybe false, at least according to Chinese professors and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. In 2006, evidence was presented that the game may have originated from the ancient Chinese game “Chuiwan” – loosely translated to “hitting ball.” Two paintings, one dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, show figures playing some sort of ball and stick game that looks like today’s game of golf. While the Scottish and the French dispute that the current game of golf came from the Far East, it is pretty clear that today’s modern game is a composite of ball and stick games played across the world hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago.

Why do golfers yell “fore?”

It is generally agreed that “fore” is short hand for the word “before” or “afore,” which was an old Scottish saying essentially meaning “look out ahead,” according to the United States Golf Association.

There are several theories to how it became associated with golf. In 1824, The Rules of the Thistle Golf Club recounts a conversation where it was expressed that one of the speakers had performed the duty of “fore-cady” for the Duke of York back in 1681, “Dickson was then performing the duty of what is now commonly called a fore-cady.”

The job of forecaddie still exists today. Their role is to locate and determine the placement of the ball, to ensure there is no cheating. They are usually employed during tournament play when the stakes are the highest. These caddies used to be employed more frequently in the 18th century for fear the golf ball (a more expensive item back then) would be lost. The golfers would yell “fore” at the fore-caddies to let them know the ball was coming and to get ready to be on the look out.

Another theory stems from military usage, when soldiers and those at a higher points would yell at those on the front line below “fore,” as a warning to duck from oncoming musket shots. While this was a term used in battle, there is disagreement which came first – the military using a golf term or golfers using a military term.

IMG_2494 IMG_3167

Why are there 18 holes on a regulation golf course?

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland was founded in 1754 and it was , as it remains to this day, one the most prestigious golf clubs in the world. Golfers had been playing on this particular parcel of land as early as the 15th century on a course dictated by the topography. In other words, they placed holes all the way to where they could play no more, where land meets water at the St. Andrews Bay. The course that emerged was eleven holes. So, when they finished the first time through, they would turn around and play the eleven again, making it a total of 22 holes.

On October 4, 1764, this letter was written by four-time captain of the St. Andrews golf course, William St. Clair of Roslin:

The Captain and Gentlemen Golfers present are of opinion that it would be for the improvement of the Links that the four first holes should be converted into two, – They therefore have agreed that for the future they shall be played as two holes, in the same way as presently marked out.

Thus, St. Clair and others in charge of the course determined that there were four holes that were too short, probably originally done this way to fit the holes onto the land. So, they combined them into two holes, making each round now nine holes instead of eleven and bringing the total to 18 holes for a game.

As St. Andrews grew in influence, other self-respecting golf courses made the change to 18 holes. It was an unofficial regulation for the next 200 years, until the 1950s when it became a “stipulated regulation” that a course had to be 18 holes for tournament play.

Where does the term “bogey” come from?

According to the United States Golfing Association, the term comes from a song from the 1890s popular in the British Isles, entitled “The Bogey Man.” Yes, this is a reference to the horror movie staple the Bogey Man. The character in the song is described as elusive with the lyrics, “I’m the Bogey Man, catch me if you can.”

Since golfers were always in pursuit of the “elusive” perfect score, they began to refer to the amount of strokes that should be expected on a particular hole as a “bogey.” We now know this to be “par” and a “bogey” is one stroke over par. In fact, an early golfing rules book has a section dedicated to the rules of “Bogey competitions” – or otherwise known as stroke play tournaments.

“Bogey” became known as one over an ideal score around the early 20th century due to tightening of “perfect scores” on course. The ubiquity of the usage made sure the term didn’t go away, now becoming a reference to a “near perfect score.”

When was “mulligan” first used and why?

As most know, the term “mulligan” extends much further beyond just golf and sports. It has come to be used in politics and daily life with the word meaning “do-over.” Of course, to taking a “mulligan” is not allowed in regulated or tournament golf, but many amateur golfers have utilized this unofficial rule to their advantage. This well-used term is actually named after a real person, though there is some dispute as to which of two men should be credited.

In the late 1920s into the 1930s, a Canadian amateur golfer named David Bernard Mulligan was making a name for himself in the more prominent golfing clubs of New York. He was so popular that he had a regular foursome that he would pick up and drive to the course in his classy 1920s Briscoe (a fancy touring car). As the tale is told, one day after driving to the course, Mulligan took his first shot and shanked it. Said Mulligan in 1985 during an interview,

I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.

Then, Mulligan’s playing partner asked what he called that,

“Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball.”

Mulligan further explained that from then on if you were not satisfied with your first shot off of the first tee, you could “take a Mulligan.”

Another story how this became known as a mulligan comes from a golf club locker room attendant in Essex Falls, New Jersey named John “Buddy” Mulligan. The story associated with him was that one day, he finished his chorus early and convinced two club members to play with him. When he botched his opening shot, he insisted that they had been “practicing all morning” and he deserved another shot because he just started playing. So, he got another shot. Upon hearing this story, the other members of club started doing this and calling it a “Mulligan” as an inside joke.

No matter what story is true (historians generally go with David Mulligan) or if the details are perfectly accurate, the term “mulligan” seems to have come from  the insistence of one individual with that name that they should be allowed a do-over.

(via Today I Found Out)

Advertisements

One thought on “#strokes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s