Sunday, April 11, 2010
Cage Match Golf
First, let's get some helmets and a few strategic pads on these guys and have a different golfer tee off every 45 seconds. This forces the athlete to sprint after his shot and hit it again, lest he be struck from behind. Someone slow like John Daly can make up for it by driving out the players in front of him. And none of this "whose away" stuff either. Everybody hits all at once and races to the hole while the gallery holds out cups of cold water. To accomplish this, we get rid of both the bulky golf bag and the caddy. Every player gets four clubs; a wood, an iron, a wedge and a putter, which they must carry in a quiver strapped across their backs. Let them use their skills like my high school teacher who was a Christian Brother. Because his vows of poverty prevented him from owning a set of expensive clubs, he had one club with a 5-way adjustable club-face. By restricting the number of clubs, the need for poofy wood covers with tassels will be eliminated. What kind of man puts pom poms on his wood, anyway? Instead of an all-day affair, we could wrap this thing up by lunchtime and the winner will be determined by the combined low score and fastest time, with the least severe injuries.
Because our world is an unruly place, relax the rules on crowd noise. If a pitcher has to throw a strike, or a basketball player has to sink a free throw with 60,000 people screaming obscenities at them, let these boys swing away to the sounds of a howling mob and the occasional blast of an air-horn. To be fair, the golfer should receive extra points for striking spectators, and for hitting anyone yelling, "You 'da man," an instant cash bonus is deserved. Because of recent events, however, anyone shouting "Get in the hole" at Tiger Woods will be escorted from the grounds. Since golfers deserve to get as dirty as rugby players, replace the illogically conceived sand-traps with the more natural mud-trap and let them hack around barefoot in there for a while. The good thing is you don't need to rake when you're finished. The surface will just ooze back to level on its own. The rough can be made far more challenging than merely hitting from tall grass. Fence the rough in with rodents and reptiles to really test the courage of the wayward swinging golfer, and rather than fairway trees, build a few tire fires to obscure the view of the flag. Since obstacles are a treasured feature of miniature golf, there's no reason a few windmills can't be erected along with some giant clown heads with gaping mouths for marksmanship.
Today's tournament professionals are just not dressing as flamboyantly as their predecessors, who often resembled rental party clowns. Like every other sport, the uniform should be uniform for all. Baseball and football uniforms only vary in color and graphics. I recall the late Payne Stewart making a fashion statement in his throwback "plus fours," knee socks, and cat hat, cutting a dashing, Gatsbyesque figure. All golfers should therefore wear 1930s attire in tribute to the legendary Bobby Jones, with knickers, argyle stockings, and a proper sweater vest. Then no one in the locker room can object if someone yells, "Where my knickers at?"
Because of the new, tight schedule, there will be no more rain delays. Helmeted men sloshing through a thunderstorm carrying metal sticks only adds to the excitement. And if they wish to call a fairway hazard a "bunker," allow mercenaries from Blackwater to defend them from the club-wielding hordes. Golf courses take up entirely too much land, so future links will consist of only nine holes while retaining the ability to play 18. The competitors will simply play the front nine from tee to green, then turn around and play the back nine from green to tee. The arrangement becomes particularly exciting when the rounds overlap and the golfers are actually hitting at each other. This way, a player going into the final hole down by four strokes can still win if the leader is disabled and can't complete the competition.
The presently confusing descriptions of scoring need simplification. The terms ace, eagle, and birdie will remain the same, but, staying with the avian theme, the new word for par, is "duck." A bogey will now be known as a "turkey," followed by a "buzzard." Anything over double-bogey is a "grackle." Finally, under the new rules there will be no more golf jokes, because non-golfers don't understand the references. They think a mixed foursome is a night with Tiger Woods at the Las Vegas House of Blues. Which reminds me of the mixed foursome just reaching the first green, and while one of the men stood over his ball, his partner noticed something out of place. He rushed to the side of his friend and whispered urgently, " The ladies are watching and you must have forgotten your underwear because your testicles are hanging out of your shorts." "I know," the golfer replied, "It keeps the gnats out of my eyes when I putt." See, a non-golfer would find no humor in a joke like that. And henceforth, anyone winning a green jacket must wear it everywhere he goes, just like orange and Bruce Pearl. If these changes don't enliven the game, we can always extend the adventure and build new public courses inside shopping malls. It's called a "win-win."