Spring is here, but so is golf


Look, I'm as happy as the next person that the warm weather is back, except it also signals the disturbing return of golfers.

I watch them sling their bags over their shoulders and stumble out to their cars on Saturday mornings, an unearthly vision in their lime-green pants and tangerine polo shirts and white golf shoes.

Eyes red from exhaustion, hands trembling from too many cups of 7-Eleven coffee, they stomp on the accelerator and fishtail madly down the highway in order to make that pre-dawn tee time.

Then when they return after 18 holes, they're chain-smoking Marlboros and swigging Mylanta and telling you what a relaxing day they had smacking their drives into the woods and five-putting every hole and eventually hammer-throwing their bag into the creek.

It's bad enough that golfers actually play the stupid game, but then they insist on telling you all about it in excruciating detail.

I don't know if you've ever had the misfortune of being cornered by a golfer at a cocktail party, but the experience is extremely unsettling.

Eyes feverish with excitement, flecks of spittle spraying from his mouth, the golfer will chatter on and on about his drive on 16 and the approach shot he hit that just caught the lip of the green, blah, blah, blah.

Within 30 seconds or so, your eyes will begin to close.

If the conversation lasts too much longer, you'll find yourself yawning and asking the host or hostess for a pillow and blanket.

In the worst-case scenario -- and this has actually happened to me -- you'll doze off right there on your feet, eventually pitching forward onto the floor and startling the rest of the guests.

Therefore, the best thing to do when a golfer starts talking is to politely excuse yourself and get some fresh air.

If the golfer tries to follow you and continue his fascinating tale of how he read the green perfectly and dropped in a 15-footer for blah, blah, blah, don't be afraid to break into a sprint.

If even this fails to discourage the golfer -- say he's incredibly fit and able to keep up a conversation as he chases you: "So (huff, huff) the next hole's a dogleg left, OK? And (puff) I'm 70 yards away, right?" -- you may be forced to stab him with a fireplace poker.

Understand, no rational person condones violence. But there are certain elements of society -- mimes, accordion players, Regis Philbin and, yes, golfers -- who are just so annoying, that the use of repellent force is perfectly acceptable.

The fascinating thing about golfers is, not only do they enjoy playing the game and talking about the game, they also enjoy -- here's where it gets really bizarre -- watching the game on TV!

For those of you who have never watched televised golf, imagine a . . . well, off the top of my head, I can't think of anything quite as soporific.

It's like watching a bunch of people in weird outfits take a walk through a field, although even that would not produce the same level of torpor.

Adding to the lethargy are the announcers, who talk in incredibly low voices, as if not wishing to disturb someone about to fall asleep.

Announcer: "Here's Greg Norman on 14 . . ."

Analyst: "The Shark needs a good drive here."

Announcer: "Looks like he got under that one . . ."

(Camera cuts to shot of a golf ball bouncing in the grass.)

Analyst: "Sure does."

Whew. Anyway, after a few minutes of this kind of frenzied action and sizzling repartee, many viewers will actually begin slapping themselves across the face in order to stay awake.

According to surveys, during the average tournament, the tell-tale THWACK! THWACK! of flesh being struck echoes throughout most houses 30 to 40 times.

Eventually, though, even the most fanatical viewer will drift off, the drone of the broadcast team ensuring a solid two- or three-hour nap.

Recently, I tried to watch the final round of the Masters on TV and fell asleep after just seven minutes, eventually waking up the following Wednesday.

During the time I was out cold, my wife tried shaking me, cold water was splashed in my face -- nothing. Finally, the paramedics were almost summoned, until the 911 operator had the presence of mind to ask: "By any chance . . . was he watching golf on TV?"

Understandably, I have not done that again. You lose three days of your life . . . to me it's just not worth it.

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