I have a message for National Hockey League owners and players who are currently locked in yet another tussle that threatens to wipe out the entire season:
Take all the time you need. The longer the strike, the more time I have to convert my wife to golf.
Patrick Sharp Chicago Blackhawks jerseys, DVRs every Hawks game including the ones she attends in person, and even tunes her satellite radio to a station that devotes all 24 hours of programming to . . . hockey?
It is almost comical to hear those "hockey jocks" as I call them, discuss a sport that doesn't currently exist. A typical exchange goes like this:
"Jacques, if hockey were being played right now, who do you think would be leading the Western Conference in assists?"
"Pierre, that's hard to say. Had the Canucks played the Wild last night, I'm sure Henrik Sedin would have chalked up at least two."
"Jacques, I couldn't hypothetically agree more! Let's take a break and then we'll have an exclusive interview with an unemployed Zamboni driver!"
I feel up to the golf conversion challenge after seeing an ad for the PGA of America that seemingly aired during every Ryder Cup commercial break. A 40-ish man sat in front of his television. His equally 40-ish wife implored him to get off the couch by tossing a golf ball in his line of vision, adding that she was ready to learn the game. The husband sprang from the cushions as if struck by a lightning bolt.
Cut to the two suddenly avid golfers taking a group lesson, simultaneously practicing their putting strokes and playfully needling each other as they discovered their new passion for the links.
"Could that be us someday?" I wondered, thinking of the girl who tried the game on our third date but was basically done with it by our fourth. Nearly 20 years later she still rolls her eyes when I "shhhh" any and all family members, dog included, who dare to breathe loudly near the TV while Ian Poulter, Phil Mickelson or any of the game's finest stand over a four-footer.
"They can't hear you. You do know that, right?" she reminds me.
"This is for the outright lead," I say.
"It's golf. IT'S JUST GOLF," is her frustrated reply before leaving the room.
I still harbor dreams that we can be that couple in the commercial, spending our golden years discovering America via the public courses that dot this nation. We'll arrive for an early afternoon tee time, sneak a well-aged pinot noir into our cart and uncork a second bottle as we end our day in an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking the 18th green.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I have to convince her that WATCHING golf can be exciting. My opening argument was simple:
"Golf is always on TV somewhere. Ever heard of golfers going on strike?" I asked her.
"They should strike," she countered. "They should demand wardrobe consultants."
Ouch. Two minutes for roughing.
"They look fine, except for Rickie Fowler," I said.
"Why was this Ryder Cup thing so great?" she asked.
Ahhh, the opening I needed. A flicker of interest on her part. "It was the ultimate golf challenge," I said. "Those guys weren't even playing for money."
"So which guy won?"
"No guy won. Europe won. They played as a team," I said. "The U.S. was winning after fourballs and foursomes, but Europe caught up in singles."
"Wait, they hit FOUR balls? The entire hockey season doesn't last that long."
"They only hit one ball each," I replied. Quickly. "They play with partners. Lowest score wins in fourballs. In foursomes they alternate shots. In singles they don't have partners. It's just one against one. Low score wins."
"When you were watching it, all I saw was a guy in an ugly striped shirt picking up his ball."
"You mean the American?"
"I guess. Did he quit? Hockey players don't quit. They pull the goalie!"
"He didn't quit. He picked up his ball because he had already lost the hole."
"When we were dating, you got mad when I picked up my ball."
"As I recall, you did it in the second fairway."
"Why were you weeping when the Ryder Cup ended?" she asked.
"Because Europe came back and won 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.
"So you get half a point for quitting?"
"No you get half a point for tying."
"They can tie? There's no tying in hockey. They have shootouts. That's what golf needs."
"What do you suggest? Luke Donald hits a tee shot and Bubba Watson stands in the fairway and tries to catch it?"
"I'd watch that."
"There's still golf on TV through December," I said. Just watch it with me. Please? We'll even drink Pinot."
"OK, hand me the remote."
"That's the spirit honey. Wait, what is this?"
"It's Game Six of the Hawks' Stanley Cup victory in 2010. I never get tired of watching it."
"But, but golf is on. Gimme that!"
Ouch. Five minutes for fighting.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://amzn.to/schwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)
Greg Schwem: The puck stops here: How to convert your wife to golf
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