Lately, when I read the interweb, that guitar riff from Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" plays at full volume in my head. You know what I'm talking about, the lick that sounds like it was ripped from Cheech and Chong? Judge has not only accidentally joined the ranks of dystopian prophets like Huxley, Orwell and Rand, he has provided a soundtrack worthy of the Ministry of Truth's daily expectorations.
As the digital cacophony increases in volume, I find myself scurrying around seeking a safe space, free from the noise. My previous go-to for spiritual quiet--a hike in the forest--is still there, but now I'm increasingly suspicious somebody will either sell off our forests or start requiring expensive permits and safety training in order to walk a paved path through the woods.
I once used bicycle road racing to calm my bentgrass and CNN addled nerves, but I gave that up. The surge of Mad Max giant trucks the size of Tiger Tanks--veering all over the road, their operators furiously tweetin' and spacebookin'--generally scared the hell out of me.
Golf has always served as a calm, happy place for me. I like to hit balls at the range, read golf history, write a golf story or two and sometimes slip out to walk nine. Lately, however, I've cut back on actual playing, due to one thing: Pace of Play.
Now, I don't know what pace of play is like on private clubs, because I play very inexpensive Mom and Pop courses, along with low level munis. I suppose I could ask my superintendent buddies to get me on their magnificent courses, but I don't. It hurts me to see the pain in their eyes as they contemplate me and Buddy and Ludell mingling with their members.
It hurts me to see the pain in their eyes as they contemplate me and Buddy and Ludell mingling with their members...
Last Wednesday, I ventured forth to play the local muni. ($7, Senior Rate, Weekday, 9 holes.) It's a rugged old layout from the 1930s, a healthy monostand of crab in the rough, hazardous bunkers, cratered tees, and smooth greens that putt straight. As I stood on the first tee, I noticed a foursome of cart geezers halfway down #3 fairway, so I decided to play two balls to keep from catching them.
I caught the cart geezers on #5 tee.
Determined to set a slow play record, these old dudes managed to rent space inside my head as they endlessly pre-shotted, visualized, socialized, stalked, searched for lost balls, (other people's lost balls) drove their portable sofas back and forth and back and forth and waited at least a minute after the other geezer hit to begin their PSR.
They also refused to let me play through.
They took 41 minutes to play #5. I slipped into catatonia waiting for them to safely clear my driver zone. A foursome of college kids caught me as I napped standing up on #5 fairway. I was suffering, because I grew up in the days of the 2.5 hour round, walking, 6300-6600 yards. (Skeptical? Just ask somebody reputable, like . . . Corey Eastwood, or my brother Mike.)
Yoooooo Hooooo, may I pass?
I tried crowding the elderly old gents, thumping the green with a Titleist the second they staggered off. I yelled "Yooooo Hooooo, may I pass?" I even stood on #6 tee with them. The only concession they made to my existence was to mutter about singles being allowed out on busy days. (Well, there were 9 of us out there.)
With no marshal on duty--and for $7, I wouldn't expect one--I began to do some visualizing of my own, especially when they pulled out the ball retrievers to work the lake bank on #6. I visualized running through the middle of the geezers blasting cart tires with my .45, dispensing pepper spray like a riot cop and yelling "FOOOOOOORRRRE! I'm freakin' playing through!"
Instead, with no way to cut through the woods twixt them and #7, I picked up my balls and went home. In the parking lot, the elderly cart boy asked me if I had a problem, so I told him about the group that took 41 minutes to play #5. He lectured me. "Son, that's a par 5, they take longer to play, don't you know anything about golf?"
That's when that guitar riff started up in my head again, only louder this time, and I visualized some more, about renting a cart and going out there and . . .
But, don't worry, I resisted the urge. Not because I'm all that sensible, it was mostly because I didn't want to end up all over the news and the youtube, with the Russians and the statues and Tubby the tantrum-throwing rocket boy.