That’s Golf! Annual Golf is not a Sport Rant

by Al Pastor

THAT’S GOLF! JAN 5, 2013 SCRIPT                                                                            SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE, AUSTIN, TX

GOLFERS LOVE A BARGAIN. IT GOES TO THE VERY FIBER OF THE OLD SCOTTISH GAME, OF COURSE, IN WHICH LESS IS MORE. THE LOWER THE SCORE, THE FEWER THE STROKES, THE BETTER – VERY DIFFERENT THAN OTHER GAMES.

WE KNOW THAT THE BALL RETRIEVER DATES BACK AT LEAST TO 1857, WHEN A CADDIE, OLD ALICK WAS IMMORTALIZED HOLDING THE TOOLS OF HIS TRADE, INCLUDING A NETTED BALL RETRIEVING STICK. HE’S DRESSED IN TOP HAT, AND LONG COAT. GOLF BALLS WERE MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN NOW, HAND MADE. WHICH DOESN’T EXPLAIN WHY GOLFERS TODAY SQUIRREL GARBAGE CANS FULL OF BALLS. BUT, TO SAVE A BUCK, WE CAN REPLACE GRIPS RATHER THAN PURCHASE A NEW SET OF CLUBS.

THE GAME’S A GREAT VALUE, AND, THE GREAT THING ABOUT IT: NO MACHINES TO WIPE!

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON, LET ME PASS ALONG TWO QUICK BARGAIN TIPS. I GOT A GREAT DEAL ON A CHRISTMAS TREE YESTERDAY. JUST SITTING THERE ON THE CURB. PERFECTLY GOOD, GREAT SHAPE, WITH A STAND AND EVERYTHING.

IF ONLY I HADN’T PROCRASTINATED. THE GOOD ONES WERE GONE EARLIER, BUT IT’S STILL A GREAT TREE.

AND, IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY THERE ARE GREAT DEALS ON HOLIDAY CANDY. I FOUND BAGS OF CANDY CORN ON THE LOWER SHELF, IN THE BACK, AT THE DRUG STORE. MAYBE IT WAS FROM HALLOWEEN. DOES THAT REALLY MATTER? YOU JUST SPRINKLE ON SOME CINNAMON AND A LITTLE NUTMEG, HEAT ‘EM UP, AND PRESTO: INSTEAD OF CANDY CORN – you’ve got “CHRISTMAS” CORN. THE KIDS HARDLY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

HONESTLY, WHO CAME UP WITH CANDY CORN? I’M GUESSING A DENTIST. THANK YOU. I’LL BE HERE UNTIL 9 O’CLOCK.

THE ENDEAVOR IS TO ENHANCE OUR APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF GOLF. WE’RE A PRESENTATION OF SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE, AND YOUR AUSTIN AREA CHURCH OF THE INVETERATE DUFFER. THIS IS THE LONGEST-RUNNING GOLF RADIO SHOW … ON THE WEST SIDE OF SOUTH CONGRESS AVENUE COVERING THE ENTIRE BOULDIN CREEK LISTENING AREA. THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU FOR TUNING IN.

WE START, ODDLY ENOUGH, WITH FORMER PRO-BOWL DEFENSIVE BACK Nnamdi Asomugha. HE RECENTLY RETIRED. WHAT COULD THIS POSSIBLY HAVE TO DO WITH GOLF? GOLFERS ARE OCCASIONALLY CONFRONTED BY THOSE WHO THINK PRO GOLFERS ARE SOFT, THAT THEY AND THE GAME THE PROS PLAY IS SOMEHOW ‘LACKING’ COMPARED WITH OTHER ENDEAVORS LIKE THE NFL AND THE NBA.

(If you’ll forgive me, I roll out this rant once a year.)

WHEN SOMEONE MENTIONS THAT GOLF IS SOMEHOW NOT WORTHY, THINK OF Nnamdi Asomugha. THE TALENTED CORNER BACK WAS A TWO-TIME FIRST-TEAM ALL-PRO WITH THE RAIDERS. HE THEN SIGNED A $60M, five-year contract with the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. TWO YEARS LATER, HE WAS CUT. HE THEN PLAYED THREE GAMES WITH THE 49’ERS BEFORE BEING RELEASED IN NOVEMBER.

GOLF IS DIFFERENT. NO SPECIALISTS. EVERYONE HAS TO BE GOOD AT EVERY ASPECT OF THE GAME. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GUARANTEED MONEY, IN THE WAY IT’S DISPENSED IN OTHER PRO SPORTS. NO PRO LATE IN HIS CAREER IS ASSURED OF ANY MONEY DOWN THE ROAD.

GOLF, OF COURSE, IS A SOLITARY ENDEAVOR. NBA TEAMS HAVE A MINIMUM OF FIVE COACHES, COUNTING THE STRENGTH COACH, THE VIDEO COACH, THE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL, THE TEAM MASSEUSE AND CHEF, AND A SCOUTING STAFF OF 10 GUYS WHO TRACK COLLEGE BALL, THE OTHER NBA TEAMS, AND INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS. WHO PICKS UP THE TAB? THE TEAM.

IN GOLF, OUTSIDE OF A FEW CELEBRATED EVENTS, THERE IS NO TEAM. EVERY PLAYER DOES IT HIS WAY – EATS HIS WAY, TRAINS HIS WAY, HE MAY HAVE A COACH, HE MAY NOT. NO ONE FINES HIM FOR MISSING PRACTICE. HE MAY PRACTICE YOGA OR WORK-OUT. IF HE DOESN’T, NO ONE SAYS A WORD. THE PLAYER IS RESPONSIBLE – FOR EVERYTHING. HIS WIFE, HIS CADDY, HIS AGENT, HIS DAD, HIS COACH (OR NOT). HE DECIDES. AND HE PAYS FOR IT, NOT SOME DEEP-POCKETED, DESPOT OWNER. HE EVEN PAYS TO COMPETE IN EACH EVENT. NOT MUCH, BUT THERE IS A PGA TOUR ENTRANCE FEE.

IT HARDLY NEEDS TO BE  MENTIONED, BUT I’LL GO AHEAD AND STATE THE OBVIOUS – THERE IS NO DESIGNATED HITTER IN GOLF. NO SUBSTITUTIONS. NO TIMEOUTS. IF YOU’RE NOT PLAYING, IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE GAME, YOU’RE NOT MAKING MONEY. THE CONCEPT OF GUARANTEED MOOLAH  TAKEN FOR GRANTED, AND RUINING MOST MAJOR SPORTS?

GOLF IS DIFFERENT. YOU CAN’T GO TO THE BENCH. YOU CAN’T DRAFT. YOU CAN’T SUBSTITUTE.

AND, A WORD ABOUT  COMPETITION… MOST WEEKS YOU’RE NOT JUST COMPETING AGAINST, SAY, PEYTON MANNING. IN GOLF, AT THE SAME TIME, YOU FACE PEYTON MANNING, TOM BRADY, ADRIAN PETERSON, JAMAAL CHARLES, DREW BREES, NICK FOLES – THEY’RE ALL THERE, CERTAINLY AT THE BIG EVENTS. EVERY WEEK, AND HUNGRY. NOT TO MENTION 40 OTHERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD WHO COULD STEAL THE CHEESE, TO NO ONE’S SURPRISE.

COULD YOU IMAGINE NFL PLAYERS CUT AT HALF-TIME? AND NOT COLLECT A CHECK? HAPPENS EVERY WEEK ON TOUR.

YES, GOLF IS APPLES AND ORANGES TO OTHER SPORTS. I’M JUST OFFERING A GENTLE REMINDER.

AND, JUST AS AN ASIDE: WHEN YOU LOOK AT SUPERSTARS IN OTHER SPORTS: MICHAEL JORDAN, TONY ROMO, LAWRENCE TAYLOR, JERRY RICE, CALVIN MURPHY, JOHN SMOLTZ, ETC. – ALL PASSIONATE GOLFERS — THEY ALL TAKE UP GOLF – AND THEY’RE ALL, WELL, OKAY, EVEN GOOD AMATEUR PLAYERS. BUT THEY’D STARVE AS PROFESSIONALS. I CAN THINK OF TWO WHO DID MODESTLY WELL AT GOLF AFTER THEIR PRO CAREERS ELSEWHERE: JOHN BRODIE, A VERY GOOD QUARTERBACK, PLAYED COMPETENTLY ON THE SENIOR TOUR FOR A TIME. AND LONG AGO, SAM BYRD, A GOOD PITCHER WITH THE YANKEES. BABE DIDRIKSON WOULD TOP THE LIST. BUT IT’S A VERY SHORT LIST. MICHAEL JORDAN – THE GREATEST BASKETBALL PLAYER EVER? HIS GOLF IS OKAY. JERRY RICE IS OKAY, AND MANY OTHERS – NHL GREAT MARIO LEMIEUX – WAS AN OAKMONT CLUB CHAMP – BUT THEY KNOW THEY COULDN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO THE PRO TOURISTS.

FRANKLY, IT’S EMBARRASSING WHEN THOSE THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER BELITTLE GOLF.  THEY’RE JUST SHOWING THEIR SHORTCOMINGS. A SOPHISTICATED GAME…TAXING THE MENTAL & PHYSICAL. THE DISCIPLINE, THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, THE SKILL, THE PRESSURE – NOTHING LIKE IT. TO PLAY AT THE TOP LEVEL. TO WIN A MAJOR…IT’S CAPTURING LIGHTENING IN A BOTTLE.

IN GOLF, THE PLAYING FIELD, THE CONDITIONS ARE DIFFERENT EVERY DAY, DESIGNED TO TEST AND IMPERIL SKILL AND JUDGMENT. NOTHING LIKE IT.

ALL PROFESSIONAL SPORTS ARE TENUOUS. GOLF ESPECIALLY SO. ALL I’M SAYING.

SO WHEN SOMEONE SAYS GOLFERS AREN’T ATHLETES, OR HOW CAN THEY MAKE SO MUCH MONEY, FAT DUDES, WALKING UP AND DOWN A FAIRWAY WITH A CADDY – NO CLOCK, NO CROWD NOISE, NO BLITZES, NO BRUSH-BACKS, NO DEFENSE, NO TEAMMATES – REMIND THEM THAT IN GOLF YOU PLAY YOUR FOUL BALLS. THAT’S RIGHT, NO MULLIGANS, NO REPLAYS.

JUST REMIND THEM OF SOME OF THESE THINGS.

OF COURSE FOR OUR PURPOSES, THE PROS ARE JUST A SMALL BUT IMPORTANT PART OF THE BIGGER PICTURE. I’LL TALK ABOUT THEM, BUT WE DON’T FIXATE ON THEM. IT’S A PERSONAL PREFERENCE. OTHER SHOWS UNDOUBTEDLY DO IT DIFFERENTLY, MOST OF US DON’T PLAY FOOTBALL OR BASEBALL. BUT GOLF CAN BE PLAYED, AND PLAYED PASSIONATELY AND WELL, BY JUST ABOUT ANYONE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE 6’ 4” 240, OR RUN THE HUNDRED IN SOME BLISTERING SCORE. A VERY DEMOCRATIC GAME. THE CLUBS DON’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE, WHAT KIND OF MONEY YOU MAKE, OR WHO YOUR PARENTS ARE.

THAT’S GOLF, AND THAT’S WHY WE LIKE IT.

IT’S TRUE, YOU DON’T SEE PRO GOLFERS SMILE MUCH. THEY PLAY FOUR DAYS. IMAGINE AN NFL GAME LASTING FOUR DAYS.

A great thing about golf? No machines to wipe. Just like the congenial shag-encrusted Zone confines.

A great thing about golf? No machines to wipe. Just like the congenial shag-encrusted Zone confines.

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