Friday, February 19, 2010

If I Had Putted Well ...

I coulda been a contenda ... I played nine at The Lakes, making solid
contact on one, two, three, five, six, seven and nine, and putting
like a chump. I botched birdie putts all over the place but had
a good time nonetheless. And I made a fairly spectacular 20 footer
(after having choked on the first putt).

As for The Golfing Robot: Really? People are actually doling out credit
to The Philanderer for his bravery, for the guts he displayed? Really?
What information did he impart today that the world did not already
know, which "I'm sorry" today was different than the ones he posted
on his website? And am I the only one who found it more than audacious—
found it, in fact, galling—that he acted as though the media had sullied
the image of his family, saying that he has always kept them out of the public
eye (I call bullshit, Tiger: Those images of you in front of the fireplace
playing with the dog, your family sitting next to you, and the ubiquitous
shot of you cradling your newborn—you sold those images, Tiger, sold us a
bill of goods in the process, made your family life public so that you could
sell more products, and you relinquished your right to privacy and certainly to self-
righteousness along the way). If I'm not supposed to care who you fuck, then why
should I care if you're married or that you have children and a dog or that you
wear a certain watch, drive a certain car, use a certain golf ball, etc? You
can't earn 90 percent of your income off the course, then say that the only things
that matter are your actions inside the ropes. It doesn't work that way. It's a bit
like getting married, then screwing anyone you want ... including your fans and your sponsors.

I don't buy for a second that it took guts to reveal that he only blames himself. Who else could he blame? The media made me do it? He answered none of the questions (and I don't mean "who did you bang, when and where?) that matter to even Tiger apologists, namely which issues are you battling and how will those issues affect your golf game and when will we see your golf game, and if you have no answers to these questions, why am I watching this today?

What he told us was that he's sorry. Wow, that's truly earth-shattering. Then he blamed the media for speculating about what happened "that night." If you'd stepped up like an actual person, rather than an image generated ... ahem ... by the same media that did your bidding today for free and the same media that allowed you to create that image, we wouldn't have needed this canned, scripted, uninformative apology at all. Had he answered the police officer's questions, the officers who tried to speak with him three days in a row, no one would have speculated about anything.

By the way, this guy didn't see the light, didn't step up and do the right thing when his conscience got heavy: He was caught. Do you think he had confided in Elin, told her of his affairs, of his failings, of his belief that since he could hit golf balls well that no rules applied to him? I'm guessing not, since the National Enquirer story happened to come out two days before the fire-hydrant/tree incident.

Do I believe his story? Oh, wait, he didn't tell us a story. We still don't know what happened, do we? How does a guy generate that kind of speed backing out of his driveway, and how does a guy crash twice, once in the front of his vehicle, once in the back, without either doing so intentionally to cover up something else that may have caused the lacerations on his face or without being drunk? Next time he's in front of a camera, I wonder if he'll say anything? He never really has before, being widely recognized as one of the worst interviews in sports. Of course, he had a chance to "man up" today, and he didn't. One does not address issues of addiction by not being forthright. But he'll learn that soon enough.

The only moment of truth I thought he displayed today was when he admitted that he had a problem. But then he didn't tell us what that problem was. A double-bogey at best.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Theater

Not much golf-related today, other than watching a few minutes of the Accenture Match Play Championships, the event Tiger will usurp tomorrow with his canned, robotic attempt to insinuate himself back into the good graces of America's corporations.

I did, however, attend a play that was directed by my sister, Brigette, and I will be heading to Chicago on Saturday to attend a play written by my brother, Brett. The play is called The Long Red Road, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is directing. I'm really looking forward to the trip, despite there being little chance that golf will make an appearance.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Respite

I showed a man my penis this morning. In addition to seeming impressed and a little envious, he also told me that no skin cancer lurked there or anywhere else on my body. I thanked the dermatologist, then muddled through my day because my night was flippin' awful. Thoughts roiling, my past snapping at me. I tried to get back on track by taking an exercise class at the YMCA, since I'm fairly certain that none of the attractive women in the P90X exercise videos I use is likely to transport herself from my television into my bedroom, so I showed up at Bootcamp, and basically got my butt kicked. By 60-year-old ladies. I managed to fake my way through most of it, including the endless jumping jacks, the incessant skipping rope and so much ab work that I cursed the sadistic instructor with each crunch, and I realize I have to pick up the intensity in my own workouts.

And then I turned on the Golf Channel to watch a bit of the Accenture Match Play Championship, a huge event that invites only the world's 64 top-ranked golfers, and what did I see endlessly crawling across the screen but the fact that The Philanderer has scheduled a "press conference" for Friday. The dickwad known as Tiger couldn't wait until Monday, a down day in golf, to reenter the fray (by not allowing the media to ask questions ... what a guy!), but felt compelled to interrupt the Match Play event, thereby stealing attention from the guys who are actually playing golf, rather than sullying it.

Then just as I was trying to coin another alliterative phrase to replace "arrogant asshole," the crawl on the bottom of the screen declared that Tiger needs only three more majors to tie Jack Nicklaus' record of 20. This is bigger news than all the strippers and porn stars and cocktail waitresses combined, yet it won't be covered that way. As every golf fan knows (hell, every sports fan), Jack has 18 majors, since U.S. Amateurs are not counted as majors, and Tiger has 14. The math, therefore, reveals that Tiger needs to win four more majors to tie Jack, but the Golf Channel is now fudging reality for Tiger by including U.S. Amateur titles, of which Tiger has three to Jack's two. So not only is the commissioner of the PGA sanctioning this sham of a press conference, allowing Tiger to control it (thereby certainly leaving the media—and by extension the public—unsatisfied), but also now the Golf Channel is cheating for the bastard.

It reminds me of all that ratshit years ago about Tiger winning the Grand Slam, until people who weren't actually lining their pockets by attaching themselves, however vicariously, to Tiger reminded the world that a grand slam has always meant winning the four majors in one calendar year, be that grand slam in tennis or in golf. So the sycophants altered reality by creating the Tiger Slam, which meant nothing at all but was elevated to the ranks of being significant, and thereby selling lots of shit. Impressive as hell, yes, that anyone could win four consecutive majors, but a grand slam, no. We're supposed to buy into crap like the Tiger Slam but if we slam Tiger, we're deemed to be piling on and dealing in the prurient. Hell, I'm still upset that I actually purchased Nike golf shoes (great deal; comfortable shoes), because people who see me wearing them may think I like the guy and will not be able to tell that I'm wearing them ironically.

Or I could simply be wearing them for David Duval, Stewart Cink and Anthony Kim.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


After scanning potential jobs on Craig's List and contacting yet another bankruptcy attorney (this one should work out, it seems), I played The Lakes, since I have only a few more days before my all-the-golf-you-can-play-for-50-bucks deal ends, and I was matched with a father and his eight-year-old son.

Everything was fine until the fourth hole, when the son had to be ushered off the red tees by the group in front of us who were still playing the whites. The bizarre part about that was that the father was standing at the reds, too.

When it was our turn, after the boy hit, he proceeded to walk down the fairway towards his ball. His father had yet to hit, but proceeded to do so, as his son walked down the fairway, his back to his dad. This was really creepy, but not as off-putting as what came next: Since there was no chance that I was placing a ball on a tee so that I could hit it with a three wood while an eight-year-old was standing 110 yards in front of me, I motioned to the father and son to move to the right, out of the way, behind the high reeds, which still wouldn't have been safe enough for me to feel comfortable as I addressed my ball. They moved about eight feet to the right, then the boy sat down in the middle of the fairway, next to where his father stood. I was dumbfounded, wondering how the hell this father could instruct his son not to step in other people's lines on the green and get angry at him for mis-reading putts but fail to inform the kid that it isn't fucking safe to stand in any fairway, especially not on a course on which nearly everyone is notably unskilled at the sport.

I thought, "Okay, it's not likely that I'm going to hit a stinger that hits and kills the kid, but it damned sure is possible, and with the way things have been going in my life of late, even the impossible has become manifest, so should I just pick up my ball and walk towards them, or can I muster the concentration and summon the requisite ability to hit a solid three wood over their heads?" The answer to the latter was "barely." I hit so far behind the ball (while trying to "stay left" at all costs) that my thudded three wood stayed left of where they were eerily creating a human hazard but only went about 180 yards. But I didn't kill anyone ... and I've found that that result generally enhances any round.

The irony is that when I went around again, I hit a horrible shot from that same tee box, a shot that scooted right, on a stinger trajectory, a worm-burner that likely would have brained the kid had he still been sitting there. It was by far the worst shot I've hit on that hole, and likely on that course, and I wonder if psychologically I was simply proving that my concerns about the kid sitting there had been justified.
It's worth mulling over. Of course, to have been perfectly safe, all I really had to do was try to hit the kid.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Brownian Motion

The broad strokes are these: I awoke to an email from "the" ex, an email that contained nothing but a link to a Canadian pharmaceutical company. She and I have had no communication for five months, and, although she still wafts through my thoughts and incites fits of anger in me, she has been progressively fading into the recesses of my mind, and someday I may be able to look back and see the good times the two of us had together. Both of them.

I responded to her perplexing email with a "Huh?," and she replied that her address book had been hijacked by a spammer, the link to cheap Viagra being sent to everyone with whom she has ever had contact. Then she wrote that she had thought of calling me hundreds of times but thought I might prefer that she not. I let her know that the last few conversations that we had had were tremendously one-sided, and that I felt a bit like a chump, listening and consoling and encouraging and inspiring, without so much as a "and how are you?"

Of course, she has not responded.

My day has been that kind of discombobulated, having to fend off a junkie who decided to insinuate himself into my van, trying to do a good turn for my cousin that proved simply to be futile and waiting to hear back from "the" ex.

My only golf-related activity was finally going on record about The Philanderer by posting a comment on The Second Golfer. I did, however, complete the full 92 minutes of Yoga X, managing to fake a few poses that I would not even attempt previously. When I finished, drenched in sweat and invigorated, I felt less concerned about a response and tried to usher things towards my mind's recesses.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Told You So

Um, uh, like, really? So I get points for prescience, since my powers of prediction proved to be spot on. But just in case my instincts were wrong, I dressed nattily (I'm down to a nicely chiseled 189, thank you very much) made sure my grooming was all it could be and arrived at Malibu Country Club ready to dramatically improve my life (but knowing that I was kidding myself, since my gut told me otherwise).

I practiced my putting, and without question, on greens that were like greased ice, I putted better than I ever have. Yesterday's practice proved beneficial, and I putted for 20 minutes without a three putt. I move to the chipping green, settled the first chip a foot from the cup, then sank the next one. I aimed for the next-farthest pin, and did the same thing, then delivered five balls within five feet of the pin 20 yards away. Anyone watching would have accused me of being a golfer. I was ready. At least for the golf.

But then the "dating" event began, and I use the word "dating" instead of the word "clusterfuck" because, well, that word wasn't in the emailed invitation. As the "group" gathered, a group that consisted of a total of 12 people, including myself and the other three guys, I noted that if I had been smacked out on heroin, blind and fatally horny, I would have considered making a play for one of the women. Had I had completely unresolved Oedipal issues, and a complete lack of a moral code, I would likely have been out of debt in a month and borderline rich soon thereafter, since these ... what's the word for a cougar's grandmother? ... elderly matrons were obviously dripping in lucre, and, hell, they, too, were alone and grasping at straws on Valentine's Day.

I was introduced to my partner, and she turned out to be kind of my Dad's boss at the local theater company at which he volunteers. She turned out to be fun, but since Harold & Maude was just a great movie to me, and not a lifestyle choice, a "dating" match we did not make (though I wouldn't have minded if she had offered to let me drive either her Corvette or her Ferrari). We did catch the other woman in our foursome cheating ... oh, I'm sorry, I meant mis-counting her strokes ... twice in 7 holes. And although that woman was relatively attractive and geographically desirable, I scratched her off my non-existent list (the one I didn't write when I saw the pickins).

So the round ended (I hit a few decent shots but wound up with the worst nine-hole score I've shot in a very long time, having been blocked by trees or landing on a root or ... just plain not being nearly the man I was on the practice range), and we all headed into the "dating" component of the day. Hah, and again HAH! I say to the whole endeavor.

The "organizer" (which is a euphemism for "incompetent nincompoop") gave us ten minutes to make outfits for ourselves out of toilet paper. Only three women and three men elected to participate (two of the women probably would have been more game three face lifts ago), and, although I contemplated setting myself on fire in the middle of the festivities as a diversion so that the others could escape without further humiliation, I crafted a mighty stylish chapeau and a no-tape, all-friction "jacket," and, accompanied by "I'm Too Sexy" as I modeled my bathroom couture, I took top honors, winning a free nine holes and a wine tasting at the nearby winery.

The next event was equally stupid but at least almost had an icebreaking component to it, and, even though I vowed not to participate and paid no attention as the activity was unfurling, I couldn't help myself (aided by the fact that the geriatrics in the room appeared to be napping), and I won that event, too, duplicating my previous prizes
(I gave the wine tastings to my parents).

So as I drove home, having not changed my opinion one iota about my least favorite day of the year (the last time I actually celebrated this most contrived of holidays with a significant other was 1989 ... try not to be depressed when that realization hits you in the face like a sack full of deflated dreams), I tried to feel joyful for the countless embracing couples that stood along the ocean's shore, declaring undying love for one another, or at least getting felt up, but I couldn't quite muster the joy for them that I would have liked to have felt.

Had I won no prizes (even though free golf is always welcome) but met a distant possibility, a smart, attractive, kind woman bearing oodles of hope, perhaps I would feel more upbeat than I do right now.

As it is, I wish I'd made the birdie putt at the last. Two excellent shots—a scorched 5-wood off the tee, and a chocked-down-on wedge from 90 yards to 12 feet, put me in great position and filled me with hope. Alas, I misread the putt egregiously (befuddled by an unseen ridge that shot the putt left when the entire green sloped hard right), and, predictably, didn't make the eight footer for par, either.

But if the life of a writer can be looked at as "research," then all disasters are good disasters, all heartbreak is worthy of being spun into tales, and all dating snafus at least generate a few laughs.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Getting to Carnegie Hall

In the current issue of Golf Digest, the 60th Anniversary Issue, there is a putting drill that I decided to try today on the practice green. I placed a tee in the ground on either side of the putterhead, with about a quarter inch of room to spare. Then I set one tee three inches in front of these just to the inside of the path the heel of the club should take and another tee three inches just outside the path that the toe should take, three inches behind the parallel first tees, creating a channel through which I was to swing the putter, leaving very little margin for error and encouraging smooth back-and-throughs and a square putter face. I hit 10 or so balls this way, and it seemed to work. As I stood over each putt, my mantra was "smooth."

I then spent about an hour putting, and I think I am on to something (though declaring such likely just jinxed me): Once I implement the forward press, I tilt my head slightly to the left, taking the hole out of the peripheral vision of my left eye, so that I do not "peek." I made a higher percentage of 3- to 6 footers than I normally would have, and by being hyper conscious of the smooth back and through from the drill, I dropped a decent number of 8- to 10 footers as well.

So, since The Second Golfer, aka Eric, asked: I receive an email notice a while back from Malibu Country Club (the course I grew up playing, long before it was called Malibu Country Club and long before it featured 18 holes), saying that the club was hosting a Valentine's Day Rapid Dating event, which would include 9 holes, followed by a rapid-dating session, followed by dinner. Due to bizarre nervousness regarding the format, the rapid dating phase has since been replaced with "ice breakers" instead (this concerns me, since anyone incapable of having a five-minute conversation is understandably single. What are we going to do, play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey? But then, it could be Jell-O wrestling, so I'll try not to show contempt prior to investigation).

Before I was fully able to admit the state of my destitution, I signed up for the event, so now I am hoping to meet a really hot sugar mama with a golfing jones and a predilection towards generosity, a woman with an aversion to golfing alone and an insatiable compulsion to pick up the tab, a pulchritudinous benefactor, a big-hitting lovely with a fondness for largess, a divorcee with a huge settlement looking for a travel companion to accompany her to the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Okay, so I'm not likely to find that tomorrow, but kind and vaguely sane would be nice, and solvency would be a plus. Of course, if she isn't, then we have something in common from the start. Perhaps we can share a bankruptcy attorney. Or a dumpster. We could sell our sticks and set out on homeless adventures, investigating underpasses together, embracing at soup kitchens, embarking on a relationship devoid of superficialities such as designer clothes and foreign sports cars but one built on trust, communication and the sharing of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. If the high road doesn't pan out, we could make people forget Bonnie and Clyde, Mickey and Mallory. We could set out on a cross-country crime spree, provided we can memorize the Union Pacific's schedules. We may become the world's first golfing hobos, sneaking into locker rooms by cover of night, pinching members' clubs, then playing the finest courses by headlamp. We will likely become mythic figures. Dylan will almost certainly capture our escapades in song. Golf will soon become a game not of country clubs and for elitists but, influenced by us the way Salk influenced polio, golf will become a people's game, welcoming any and all, the various roustabouts and the sundry ne'erdowells as embraced by the game of Old Tom Morris as the patrician bankers and the not-so-sober judges. Quickly the game will proliferate, then transmogrify, and before Nicklaus reaches his 75th birthday, golf will be much more light-hearted, more amenable, and will be a less-expensive game that features windmills, clowns and colorful balls. A guy can hope, can't he?

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Wincing All the Way

I tried to squeeze the toothpaste tube with my left hand this morning, and I winced from the pain in my wrist and thumb. So I figured golf was out. But after learning that I had been rejected by a bankruptcy attorney (long story, but if Samuel Beckett were still alive, he'd envy the utter absurdity of my life), I decided to attempt to play The Lakes, since, random chance being what it is, I was actually likely to make a hole in one (the yin to the rest of my life's yang).

Other than my now-traditional first-shot 20-yard dub (a warm-up process known in certain circles as a mulligan; in other circles as cheating), I struck the ball very well, with almost all of my iron shots landing on the greens, then backing up (since I'm still playing with the Pro V1s I was given in the Viking Classic Pro-Am, I may have to concede that real golf balls do things that shitty balls do not: namely, compress, stop and spin). Unfortunately, I missed three-foot par putts on both two and three, and I continued to show that my game on the greens is completely inconsistent.

Hank Haney says that 50 percent of all practice should be on the short game, and 50 percent of that should be putting. I need to gain confidence with the flat stick.

On the other hand, I cannot believe how well I'm hitting the Nike Victory Red #3 Hybrid. I thought I was playing it safe by hitting it 190 or so into a brisk wind on the last hole, but I arrived at my ball perplexed, since the hole is 261 yards, and I was no more than 30 yards from the center of the green (with no cart-path bounces possible, since the course doesn't have carts. I simply tagged it).

Of course, I then pulled out my 60 degree wedge, got far too cute (instead of aiming for the wide-open middle of the green), tried to delicately carry the bunker and snuggle up to the pin, and instead landed before the bunker, a true finesse shot that went 10 yards. Then I delicately deposited my next shot into the bunker. Then blasted out across the green. The good news is that I am now 9 for 9 getting out of traps with my 60 degree wedge. The bad news is that having to make a nice eight-footer for a double-bogey on one of the easiest birdie holes on the planet is not exactly the confidence boost I was hoping to find today.

Perhaps some putting practice tomorrow will do the trick.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Dreaded Five-Putt

After spending nearly an hour and a half yesterday trying to transfer photos from my camera to my computer (something is seriously wrong), I gave up and decided I needed to head to Costco to get the RTJ Golf Trail images transferred to disc so that I could send it off.

While the disc was being burned, I played nine at The Lakes. With both wrists bandaged and while wearing a back brace and hoping that the part of my back not braced would hold up, I stood on the first tee, then chunked my wedge 20 feet. On the third hole, I hit a solid 6-iron to the green, leaving me with about a 60-foot putt. In not such short order, I picked up so as not to 5-putt. The irony of me missing the 10-foot birdie putt on the second and the six-foot birdie putt on the eighth is that for the first time at The Lakes, I hit the practice putting green before I played, and I rolled the ball tremendously, burning the cup on seven of the 10 putts I hit ... a variation on "leaving it on the range," I suppose.

I'm not exactly confident about the blind-date/golfing gig on Sunday, not since the greens at Malibu Country Club are as tough as any I've played. What I need now, on various fronts, is some blind luck.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stiff Upper Lip

More of the same, really, though I managed to get through my to-do list, which included submitting stories to a writing competition, dealing with photos, a couple errands and calling various bankruptcy attorneys. Yup, it looks as though it's come to that.

Finished reading Time Release by Martin J. Smith: a damned excellent read, and a truly superb first novel, a thriller that for some reason has not been made into a movie. When I write him tomorrow to say how much I enjoyed his book, I'll ask him if anyone has tried to turn it into a script. Not that I'm nominating myself for the job, since I've had even less success on that front than with prose.

Today was kind of a metaphorical rainout on the golf front, since all I did was watch a few of the Top Ten Pebble Beach Highlights (curse you, Tom Watson!), and I will now sit down with Golf Digest.

As Kilgore so presciently stated in Apocalypse Now: Someday this war is gonna end.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

From Green to Blue

Today was not a good day. Yet another example that Murphy was actually an optimist. He said that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Of course, this presumes that certain things cannot go wrong, which is not only optimistic but perhaps also delusional.

Somehow I managed not even to get a call from ING. The snafu is too bizarre to go into, but suffice to say that I am not feeling overly confident or upbeat at the moment. I'm in pretty significant physical pain (tooth, back, wrist, feet, legs), but it's the emotional beatdowns that are taking their tolls. An editor I've written for monthly for many years simply can't be bothered to acknowledge that he's received my submissions, an oversight that is significant because payment obviously results after a story has been checked in, and even then the payment is not likely to arrive in anything resembling a timely manner, if at all.

I watched a few episodes of The Office to try to get out of my funk, didn't feel up to working on Exit Wound and will now attempt to read my way out of this blueness.

Of course, this mood could simply result from experiencing a day without any golf.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Missed It By That Much!

Okay, so it wasn't exactly Riviera. Okay, nowhere near it in any realm. But it was still technically a golf course, albeit one that plays 4,961 from the blues and has a par of 67. It appears that the groundskeeper may be both blind and incompetent. Half the course is ground under repair, the rest was casual water. But my dad and I, after warming up with a round that won us no awards, decided to do our "best ball" thing, and we came oh-so-close.

Had we not completely botched a three footer, we wouldn't have needed a birdie on the last to shoot even par. As it was, after a solid tee shot and two godawful wedges, we were still in position to pretend as though we were real golfers (that a real golfer would shoot a 50 on this course is beside the point). We still had an uphill 22 footer.
Pops took dead aim, hit it oh-so-firm and hit the cup dead center, but, alas, too hard, and the ball only dropped halfway in before popping out. I hit a good putt, but not good enough. A fairly noble effort from two hackers.

And since I walked 36 at a brisk pace, I'm feeling tired, but it's the good kind of tired, as Letterman used to say.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Have That Shot

I arrived at Riviera Country Club—having wisely parked on San Vicente, then walked the mile or so to the entrance, instead of enduring the Baatan Death March that is the shuttle-bus system—just in time to see Phil on the first green. I followed him through 14, where I decided that he should immediately contact Dave Stockton after his round and even consider giving refunds to the people who bought his book on the short game.

He missed so many makable birdie putts that it became painful to watch, but the two horrible chips he hit actually did hurt, since they struck far too close to home.

I had a good time at the event, though, so I'm glad I attended. And Steve Stricker, the world's new second-best player (though the best active player, and not a stone-cold prick ... wait, perhaps that's not the right phrase) deserves the win,
especially after basically giving this event away last year to Phil.

Not glad the Colts lost, but I am by no means crushed, since I think it's great
for New Orleans and for Louisiana that the Saints ain't the ain'ts no more.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010


Not much golf-related news, other than the fact that I watched Phil make a one-hole charge, then fritter away his momentum. I will attend the event at Riviera tomorrow, though, so that's a good thing.

I worked for hours today on Exit Wound, making significant progress, and I then completed the Kenpo X workout.

All in all, not a bad day, despite not hitting any balls.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

On the Bag

After nearly five hours searching for photos, sorting photos and cursing photos and the lack thereof, I was grateful for the chance to watch a few minutes of the Northern Trust Open, then have dinner with my friend Scott Martin, who will soon caddy for Notah Begay, temporarily for now but maybe more down the road.

In addition to finding Scott to be an unbelievably nice guy (more important, he is also a good guy), I really enjoy hearing him tell stories about caddying, what the players are like, which ones are notorious for which peccadilloes, etc. I'm sure his upbeat temperament serves him well, and he seemed less upset about his being let go last week than I am. I know who I now hope misses the cuts (since I don't like friends being treated shabbily), and my second favorite player is now Notah (but still pulling for ya, Phil!).

Since I hadn't heard back from one woman on who expressed herself well in her profile, I emailed another one who also had a penchant for prose (and who was better looking than the first). I do this just so that I get rejected from a good class of women.

And I also signed up for the Malibu Country Club golfing/meet-and-greet Valentine's Day event. And a woman I know in Alberta wants to set me up with an outdoorsy woman who lives here in L.A. So at least there is hope.

To that end, I hope I find a better therapist than the inattentive one I let go yesterday. I'm kind of guessing that being a good listener is a prerequisite for the job.

And I hope I add to Exit Wound tomorrow as I plan to, especially since it will be raining, and my practicing of this little game we call golf will have to wait.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

It Takes All Kinds

After tinkering one last time (I hope) with the RTJ Golf Trail story, I decided to take advantage of the all-the-golf-you-can-play-for-50-bucks deal, since I'd already paid. So I arrived at the first tee, ready to enjoy a round of golf, yet as I addressed my ball, two guys are talking, loudly, right behind me. I had just joined their foursome, so I waited a few seconds to see if they would quite down, rather than asking them to be quiet, and creating an uncomfortable introduction. As it turned out, I should have said something, because I opted to play through their discussion, and chunked the first shot 25 yards—the first less-than-very-solid strike I've had on the first tee at the Lakes. Of course, I was then upset and had a who-knows-how-long pitch to a back pin tucked three paces from the sloping back fringe. And I started double, bogey, bogey, after having played 9 in two over on Tuesday.

The main jackass continues to be one on the next couple holes, then, on the 4th, he proceeds to intentionally hit into the foursome in front of us, who, apparently, were guilty of putting. The guy hit the ball, didn't say a single word, and when I said, "You drove into them. That's why they just looked as us," his response was, "Well, they're putting too slowly."

When another guy in our foursome, a very friendly man who used to work in the Long Beach Navy shipyard and who had just made a birdie on the previous hole, was busy tinkering in his bag, rather than teeing it up, I stepped to the tee, and our self-important jackass said that it was very bad karma to hit before a birdie shooter. I said nothing, backed off, and as our birdie shooter was in the middle of his backswing, Johnny Jackass started talking. That did it. I turned to him and said, "It's bad karma to play "ready golf" but it's okay for you to talk loudly while people address the ball. And on the fourth, you drove into the guys on the green, without yelling fore, and then blamed them for putting too slowly, though they had just pulled the pin."

Needless to say, the remaining holes were a touch awkward. Surprisingly, we didn't exchange numbers or even shake hands.

I went around again, this time behind the jackass, and it took everything in my power not to hit into him.

Instead, I proved that the great rounds of two days ago were a bit fluky, and I reaffirmed what I already knew to be true: Putts must fall for scores to do the same.
I didn't make a single birdie putt in 27 holes. But having walked 27 holes, I feel that skipping my 90-minute P9X yoga session is acceptable. I'll try to get back on track tomorrow.

The good news is that, at $11 to play 9 holes, I have already received my money's worth, since I've played 45 holes (do the math), so any rounds hereafter for the rest of the month are effectively free. Though, of course, my round with Jackass today cost me in many ways.

And the bad news is that yogurt girl was not flirting, or at least was not flirting with purpose, since she managed to squeeze in the word "boyfriend" rather quickly this evening. That's okay, though, since she likely wasn't a golfer.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More of the Same

The only golf I partook of today consisted of revisiting the fantastic courses I played in Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a bit of nostalgic time travel resulting from my having added nearly another 1,000 words to my feature story about that trip. I hope to reread the piece in the morning, then send it off for fact checking.

I did, however, watch a few minutes of the Golf Channel, and I wondered how I could make a trip to Oregon's Bandon Dunes and its sister courses happen. I should call up there to see if they would be interested in hosting me so that I could write a column about my experiences there.

If it sounds as though nothing of consequence has happened, then I have written this post accurately.

I started to read the book Time Release, by the editor of Orange Coast Magazine, Martin J. Smith, the one who encouraged my efforts on Exit Wound the other day. So far it's really good, and it makes the Robert B. Parker Spenser novel I inhaled over the last two days seem like little more than seasoning to this book's steak. Of course, Robert B. Parker was rich, famous and so widely respected that he is generally viewed as having been the logical successor to Hammett-Chandler-and-MacDonald. And yet, even after having studied the field for more than 25 years, I had never heard of Martin J. Smith until I emailed him the other day. Of course, he's still alive, unlike Parker, so he might be fine with their relative degrees of fame.

I also worked out like crazy, and Day Three of my re-started P90X effort, Shoulders & Arms, followed by Ab Ripper X, put me on the verge of collapse.

All things considered, I would rather have played golf.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maybe This Time ...

Since the world's lack of response to my existence—my success rate is lower than Sisyphus'; magazine editors feel no compunction to reject my proposals since they can simply ignore them; and applying for jobs has proven to be nothing more than an act of abnegation—I decided to try to taunt fate by committing to all the golf I could play for a total of $50, on weekdays during the month of February, on The Lakes at El Segundo.

The way things had been going, I figured I'd pay the 50 bucks, hack around the course, commit to playing there regularly, then arrive home to a request for an interview with ING or a positive response from an editor that would require me to travel. Or, lottery-victory of lottery-victories, I would receive a response from one of the women on Match—strike that—I would receive a response from one of the attractive women on Match to whom I had sent an email, as opposed to those who have contacted me unsolicited, women who may be overwhelmingly alluring to others, sexually irresistible to some, but, alas, less than pulchritudinous to me. No such luck on any front.

Instead, on a course that I had played twice, shooting sever-over 36s both rounds, I parred the first four holes, missed four-foot par putts on the next two, bogeyed the next when I pulled my tee shot and didn't make a good recovery, then parred the eighth. In my mind I was two over (had I counted correctly, who knows what might have happened next), so when I reached the 261-yard par-4 ninth, a hole that has three traps right and a trap and water left, I figured that if I went for it, drove the green, then made the eagle putt, I would have shot level par, something I've never done on a course that didn't feature a windmill. The headwind was fierce, I'd say 20 mph. I figured that if I aimed at the traps and hit the ball solidly, my natural draw would kick in, carry the ball over the traps, land the shot on the fringe, then roll the ball towards the pin. So that's exactly what happened. I had a 12-footer for eagle.

Of course, had I counted correctly, meaning if I had known that the made eagle putt would simply have put me at one over, I probably would have made the putt. As it is, I overread it by an inch, left it a quarter-inch high, and had a tap-in birdie, shooting a two-over 31.

Debating whether to press my luck, I went around again, this time getting a touch unlucky when the second-best shot I hit all day didn't bite and left me with a downhill chip to a tight pin, but I still shot a 32. That's a total of five over for 18. And to think that a week ago I felt pretty good about the two 36s I had posted.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a little thing we like to call progress.

Now if only something vaguely resembling progress would manifest itself in another aspect of my life.

To that end, I will now write out a plot summary of Exit Wound, since the original one I wrote umpteen years ago jumped the rails many chapters back. I think I have a handle on it now, though, so if I grasp it gently, as if holding a bird, keep my weight on the balls of my feet, then move everything rhythmically, all should be okay.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

To Flip or Not to Flip

After sending out queries and adding 1,100 words to my story about the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, I decided to practice golf a little. I think I've made a complete transition to the thick handle on my Nike Method putter, since the putts
were dancing around the holes from distance and falling from eight feet in.

Then I decided to compromise while chipping: Since the 60-degree wedge
lofts balls nicely but leaves little margin for error, I opted to try
my Mizuno 56-degree for the first time around the chipping green. The
results were fairly good, and I began to have a feel for the club,
even developing confidence in it there for a while.

Then I made a stupid error: I decided to try a flip shot, just for kicks,
then another and another, and the shots I had been hitting before, with no hinge
in the wrists, suddenly looked bad, since one flip shot after another lofted
nicely, then rolled gently towards its target. Except, of course, for the flip
shots that I sculled across the green. In other words, confusion reigns, and I
should probably stick with what I know: mediocrity.

I restarted the exercise program called P90X, which I think was invented
to torture prisoners in Guantanamo (oh, sorry, America doesn't torture,
and those people locked up for years without due process aren't, of course,
prisoners; they're enemy combatants). Anyway, I started the Lean option,
which is slightly less intense than the Marquis de Sade version that is
the standard P90X. Even so, I sucked wind hard, and my muscles will ache
like hell. But who knows, maybe I'll add distance to my drives.

Now if only P90X could do something for my accuracy.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Shot in the Dark

I don't know why I bother. I craft carefully written, insightful and funny emails, then send them to women on, only to have the emails ignored. I grant that if women must only date men who have full heads of hair, then I am liable to remain single. However, since I have actually dated women, most of them attractive and at least one vaguely sane, and they were comfortable with my head's hairlessness, perhaps there is a prejudice among women, an anti-hirsute bias that should be investigated. Perhaps wearing a wig in my Match profile would at least generate a response. Of course, I can give women plenty of reasons to dislike me, once they get to know me, but ... in other words, fine, go ahead, reject me, but don't reject my words.

As my friend Eric, the genius behind the excellent golf blog The Second Golfer, suggests, perhaps is not the path that I should follow, not when
a singing yogurt girl is only a 250-yard drive away.

I watched Phil choke so hard on putts today that I suspected him of subliminally empathizing with me. Thanks for the love, Phil, but I'd rather you make the putts
... and use whichever fucking wedges you want.

I added to Exit Wound and tomorrow will hit the 200-page mark.

So I have that going for me.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Night Golf

No good can come from realizing that you have played six consecutive rounds of golf with the same golf ball. The degree of self-satisfaction that this realization creates will likely be erased soon thereafter, in my case by losing three balls into the same pond.

I decided to check out Westchester Golf Course, likely the country's only 15-hole track, because of its oddly truncated routing and because it has night golf. The course was worth a try for novelty's sake. I made bogey on the first, then, after playing it safe by hitting a 7-iron short of the water on the second, keplunked three in a row into the drink. 7, wedge, wedge. Ah, the benefits of a proficient short game.

Other than that, however, I played very well, despite not dropping any putts. I had five or six shots that were among the best I've ever hit: A pitch from 60 yards to six feet; a wedge over a very tall palm tree to 20 feet; a chip from 60 feet to six inches; a putt from 63 feet to one foot. But the shot of the day, and maybe of my life, was a 7-iron on the 13th from 155 yards to 10 inches. I knew it was nearly perfect when I hit it, then we watched it cut through the dark towards the lighted green, landing four feet past, then backing up to kick-in distance. It was my only birdie but was nearly better than that.

The course will open three additional holes on February 19, so this was likely my only chance to play a par-51 course. It was a decent test, and the greens held so well that every single approach (not including chips) bounced backward, stopping behind its pitch mark. Another oddity (other than the planes endlessly roaring overhead—LAX's control tower is in view from many of the holes) was the fact that the 15th is a par 3 that plays 220 yards, with a gaping bunker left and a grass bunker right. Playing it in the dark, with the distant green eerily lighted, is tough; the fact that it is the Number 5 handicap hole is absurd.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

A Different Path

Before I went to the dentist, hoping not to have a root canal (the jury's still out), I hit The Lakes at El Segundo again. Unlike the other day, when nearly every meaningful putt fell, this round not a single putt of more than three feet fell. I lipped out on the first, lipped out on the five-foot birdie putt on the second, and then I lost confidence that I was reading the greens well. I overplayed every break.

I hit the ball better this round, even attempting to go for the green on both par 4s (with mixed results: I was boxed in under a tree, resulting in a double on the 4th but found a path to the pin on the 9th, which I parred). The course played totally different, since the tee boxes were way up (where I hit a 4 iron the other day, I hit a 7 today), and all in all, it is a great challenge. One of the holes is so short—but demands a touch shot that must negotiate bunkers like moats on either side of the green—that it presents the opportunity to practice tricky shots that are difficult to practice elsewhere. I like the course.

And I like the fact that I read more of the how-to-publish book, submitted one of my racy stories to a publisher of erotica, then added 775 words to Exit Wound. I even resolved a plot issue that I didn't even know needed resolving. Voila!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Dub

While having coffee this morning at ING Direct, an online bank that has a few cafes, one of which is eight blocks from here, I spoke with an employee who told me that the company is hiring. So when I got home, I touched up my resume, then sent it off. The system did not allow for a cover letter, which I would have preferred, because in it I could have stated how the employee, who would likely be my boss, thought I'd be great at the job. As a whole, the application process felt very mechanical, but, hell, if I can't get an interview to do flippin' phone sales, I may as well pack things in.

Which is kind of what I did today, anyway, after having made decent progress the last couple days. But I NEEDED to laugh, so I watched Thursday night comedies, then cried while watching Celebrity Rehab. The celebs got to work out their anger by beating the shit out of objects in a junk yard. It looked highly therapeutic.

Before watching Celebrity Rehab, I walked down the street to get some frozen yogurt from the place on the corner. The young, attractive brunette at the counter threw me just enough of a look, then a flattering line, so I wondered a bit. I went back after the show for a second helping of yogurt (cappuccino the first time, French vanilla the second), and as I paid, she asked if I'd like a song. Sure, I said, so she stands there, looking me dead in the eye and sings "Bring on the Men" from Jekyll and Hyde (I think that was the show; I'll admit that the whole scenario seemed surreal). So at this point I'm pretty sure she's flirting (and by the way, she was a very good singer), except that she prefaced the song with the comment, "This is one I sing for older guys. Older men." So she was either bucking for a big tip or she has daddy issues. Either way, I'm intrigued.

The only golf for today was reading a little of Harvey and watching a little of Phil at Torrey, which means two days in a row have passed without me contacting a ball with a club.

And I didn't work on Exit Wound, even though I pulled it up and intended to. But perhaps today was a day meant for frozen yogurt and its consequences.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baby Steps

The two hours I spent sending queries ultimately proved to be futile, either
because the magazines weren't interested in the Kauai pitch or because the emails wouldn't even go through.

But there was a positive development: The editor of Orange Coast Magazine, Martin J. Smith, also happens to have written three novels and published other books. In a couple back-and-forths, he gave some good suggestions about how to try to promote my book of short stories and gave me some perspective on Exit Wound. I just ordered his first novel from Who knows, maybe he'd be willing to give Exit Wound a read when I've finished it. And, to that end, I passed the 40,000-word mark tonight, approaching the 200th page (though I'm sure that if it was printed in Times, rather than in Courier, it would be closer to 160).

And, in the name of striking while the iron is cold, I sent off 18 of my columns as samples, hoping that the syndication possibility that went nowhere last year goes somewhere this year. And I completed the introductory exercises in The Shortest Distance between You and a Published Book. I think I'm going to go with the title: America & Me, since it allows for a lot more free camping options.

Although I did not practice golf today, I did walk about five miles, and I will now do the slow-swing drill that Harvey Penick recommends to groove one's swing by teaching muscle memory. Then I will likely collapse, because I was awakened early this morning (after having gone to bed very late) by an elderly woman trying to reach Robert Sean Leonard, because she saw him on tv and wanted to congratulate him on his show. The fact that she does not know him, the fact that his show, House, has been on for about seven years and the fact that my name is not Robert and, therefore, should never have been given to the lady requesting the number for Robert Sean Leonard all were irrelevant to the woman. As was the fact that she woke me.
It proved to be a productive day anyway. But I'm turning my ringer off tonight, just in case she wants to congratulate Sugar Ray Leonard on his Olympic medal.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I spent nearly two hours today in Borders researching travel books, then copying contact info from magazine mastheads so that I could submit queries about the upcoming golfing excursion on Kauai. I then came home and spent another hour pitching those magazines, then another hour trying once again to figure out how best to syndicate my adventure columns.

Between doing the research, seeing if any of the numerous businesses in the fancy El Segundo complex were hiring and sending the queries, I did two things: Began to read The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book, and played nine holes on an executive course called The Lakes at El Segundo.

I had begun to read the book long ago, before I abandoned the idea of hitting the road to pursue the Wal-Mart book, and I had played the course once long ago, during a "leisure Olympics," and I was not impressed at the time. I was, however, today. Very impressed. It is so much more impressive than the Rancho 3 Par course. The Lakes incorporates actual design elements, features elevation changes and demands challenges of golfers that the Rancho course doesn't even aspire to, let alone deliver. The huge greens, unlike the specks on baby Rancho, could make for wildly varied rounds, depending on pin placement.
And the course has a ridiculous and fantastic policy: If you're an El Segundo resident, you can play unlimited golf on weekdays for a grand total of $35 a month. Amazing.

It helps, of course, that I stated par, birdie, par. I stuck my wedge shot on the second hole to 4 feet from 112 yards. The rain began falling pretty hard while I was playing the second hole, but the wet condition really only affected one shot, when I slipped hitting a 4-iron on the third. But I parred it anyway. I came down to earth a bit, but loved the large greens, the undulating fairways and having the course to myself, playing in the rain, feeling okay for a while. I even got to hit the big dog on the last, depositing my drive pin high, but in the rough, on the 261-yard 9th.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

The Darkness

The darkness overtook me today. The morning started out well enough, but then I went to pay my bills, and the reality of my financial situation hit me full force. I started to feel nauseated, then fought back tears, because it felt as though my life has been a series of miscalculations, of decisions botched, of opportunities squandered, of loves lost.

The prospect of finally surrendering, of declaring bankruptcy, selling nearly all of my possessions, then becoming a full-time RVer (a homeless person with a ride) started to make sense. I never wrote the book that people seemed to respond to: Wal-Mart and Me: A Year on the Road Rent-free, and maybe it's time—especially in this economy, and because it would not be a stunt but a necessity—to pursue this one. I have not really believed in some of the other book ideas I've had, recoiling from the prospect of wading into them for such long stretches, since belief in the project is something that must not waver. But perhaps it's time to get behind this one. If I had no credit card bills, no utility bills and no rent—but also no place to call home—would life be easier?

To try to pull myself up out of the darkness, I headed to the driving range, where I hit 52 balls, half of them wedges, and half of those sculls. But then I found my swing and delivered a series of solid shots, while "playing" Malibu Country Club in my mind. Driver-5-iron on the first hole. Driver-7-iron-wedge on the second, etc. It was fun, and I felt pretty good for a while. Then I even putted well for 15 minutes. And I figured out on the range that by putting the ball farther forward in my stance while hitting my full shots, then forward pressing, I struck the ball more sharply and more consistently.

So that I didn't continue to feel like shit once I returned home, I decided I must write, so I added 800 words to Exit Wound. I realized afterward that many of them were garbage and that I'd have to redo the scene later, but I felt good while writing, and I suppose that is at least one of the benefits of the pursuit.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Less-Great Day

Woke early and decided to head for the 3-Par course before the football started. My mistake, never to be repeated, was trying to play golf without having first had my coffee. At least that's my excuse for shooting my worst round ever on that course, 13-flippin-over on a course I just missed shooting par on a couple weeks ago, one on which I shot no worse than four-over on for five consecutive rounds. I only made two pars today and only hit about four good shots.

However, instead of despairing (at least over that), I take heart in the fact that the pro Shane Bertsch shot a 62 the other day in the Hope, only to follow it up three days later with a 77. So I am not alone in my inconsistency. Though I'd like someday to be so inconsistent as to shoot a 62.

I did not add to Exit Wound today, and I feel bad for not having done so, but I blobbed out a National Parks column, so the day wasn't a total wash.

I should have sent emails to women on, but I buckled there, too. With my horrendous track record on that front, however, my ambivalence is understandable.
At least it is right now.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Great Day

Determined not to let the bizarre blackballing by Google's AdSense throw me, I set out to have a great day today, and all indications are that I succeeded.

I pulled my lovable-but-battered van-conversion RV into the Rancho Park parking lot, practiced my putting for an hour, wrote a short column in the van about Wind Cave National Park, practiced chipping with my new 60-degree wedge, hit 20 balls (man, do I love the Nike VR Hybrid #3), putted some more, then headed home to watch a few minutes of the Hope.

Then I turned a good day into a great day by spending two hours adding 1250 words to Exit Wound (some of them are even readable).

I received an email yesterday from Malibu Country Club about a Valentine's Day golfing/rapid dating/dinner event. It sounds like a perfect piece to the puzzle I'm carefully putting together. Fingers crossed.

As important as improving my golf game and meeting that certain someone are to me, however, the key to my happiness and success is writing, and so I am happier and more successful today than I was before I started this endeavor. My plan, therefore, is working.

Ol' Rudyard Kipling knew the score when he said:

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

Especially if those words are whispered by that special someone.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Seeing It Coming

The golf excursion to the California desert proved to be semi-disastrous, since the rain did not let up, and I cut the trip short. I did, however, get to walk nine holes of the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West, during the Bob Hope Classic, with Scott Martin and the player for whom he caddies, Richard S. Johnson. It was a good time, and hanging out with Scott could not have gone better—he is likely the nicest person I've ever known. But then again, he's Canadian, so being nice goes with the territory. The Yukon, I believe.

On an entirely different front (and more in keeping with the cursed-karma theme of last year), my van's windshield wipers broke in the middle of the downpour, and I had to drive half-blind through pools of water to find a mechanic, who managed only to half screw me. Then, since I would not be playing golf due to the courses' soggy conditions, I decided to head home, only to make it about 23 miles before deciding to spend the night in the Morongo Casino Resort parking lot. It was a good decision, since the freeway was a wind-swept, water-logged, truck-laden nightmare. I slept well.

But just a minute ago, after having baked one of the most delicious loaves of bread in the history of man (take that, Emeril!), I received an email from Google AdSense saying that it was pulling my blog's ads because somehow my ads posed a danger to its advertisers. By that, I'm certain, they mean that they were going to have to pay me something, as the minutia-filled contract specified. I did not once click on any of the ads (abiding by my side of the contract), even to see which sites the ads linked to. Alas, I should have seen this coming, though.

And yet I could just be out of sorts because I haven't played golf or practiced in three days. Or, for that matter, written. I hope to rectify these shortcomings tomorrow.

As for the AdSense bullshit, who knows?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Tour

I'm excited because early tomorrow I'll be heading out to the Palm Springs
area to attend the Bob Hope Classic. My friend, Scott Martin, who now caddies for PGA Tour pro Richard S. Johnson, is giving me a tournament pass, so I'll attend as many days of the five-day tournament as I can, while fitting in at least two, and preferably three, rounds of golf (on Tahquitz and the Classic Club, at a minimum), maybe going cross-country skiing at the top of the tram and perhaps going hiking.

The catch, however, is that a series of severe storms has hit Southern California and will continue to do so for the rest of the week. But, since I'm a writer of an adventure column, I should be able to make something funny out of disaster, should it come to that. Though I'd prefer birdies and pars.

I gave my father my old hybrid, Cobra putter and 60-degree wedge, so I've committed to my new equipment. To that end, I chipped 6o balls with my Mizuno 60 degree and really liked the results. Then I putted for the first time with my Nike Method putter with the new very-thick handle I had put on it, and the first few rolls worried the hell out of me, since my putts were far too long, and those that weren't long, I pulled severely. I managed, however, to figure things out, though, then sunk three putts of more than 20 feet in the next few minutes. So I'm feeling good on that front.

And now I must pack for my trip.

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Monday, January 18, 2010


After having a solid day yesterday—hitting balls, doing yoga, adding to Exit Wound—today I choked. I fully intended to have a great day, to work for two hours on the RTJ Golf Trail story, to add to Exit Wound for two hours, to try to build my website for two hours and to write queries or submit stories to contests for two hours. Then I intended to exercise and find time for some golf practice.

All I managed to do, however, was plan my trip to Palm Springs, a trip that will likely be a bust, since it's storming non-stop now, then admit that my back, which has been bugging me for two weeks, had become debilitating, so I went down the street to a new massage place. The massage was good and inexpensive, but I was so wiped out afterward that I had to take a nap. And the day and night slipped away, as I watched bad television, hoping to find a laugh somewhere, or something inspirational.

On the last front, I suppose I did. I watched an episode of Intervention, and I reminded myself that my life has been a lot worse than it is now. In March, I will have 11 years of sobriety, and each and every one of my drunken years was miserable.

So the positive spin that I choose to put on this off day (one in which I watched the Golf Channel and picked up a tip or two ... so it wasn't all wasted) is that I have lived through far worse, so, empirically, life can get better.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

If at First

In a slight drizzle but protected by the upper deck of the driving range, I hit 22 balls today: a couple with one of the new Mizuno wedges, 10 with the new Nike VR Hybrid #3 and 10 with the Taylor-Made R9, which I adjusted with the wrench for the first time. The wedge shots felt good, eight of the 10 hybrid shots were good to excellent (and the two misses were still okay), but the shots with the driver made me want to abandon the club and stick with my Cleveland. Next time perhaps I'll try a complete bucket with the R9, so that my decision won't be rash, but ...

Then, on the way home, I had a much thicker grip put onto my new Nike Method putter, then I practiced rolling some on the indoor putting green in Roger Dunn's. We'll see if I made the right decision, but in that fake environment, my long putts were consistently very good.

I had really, really hoped to come home from the range to spend a few hours completing my story about the Robert Trent Jones Golf Tail in Alabama. I took the trip many months ago, and I should have banged out the story soon after my return home. But now I think I'm procrastinating because, as I write this, the RTJ Golf Trail story may actually be the very last feature I write. I simply do not have a single assignment in the works, other than columns. I have a couple queries out, but the editors to whom I sent those are not even likely to respond, based on their track records, let alone likely to assign me the stories. So, after producing many hundreds of articles over the last 22 years, I may be procrastinating over this story because it represents the end of my career. Or, of course, I could just be procrastinating.

And with the way I hit the ball today, I'm not likely to make the Champions Tour when I turn 50.

I need a big break, or four. Playboy saying yes to one of my short stories would be a good start.

A quote I received via email this morning: All glory comes from daring to begin.

And, in the case of Exit Wound, to continue. And so now I will wade back in.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010


After drinking coffee and reading the paper, I decided to spend an hour practicing, so I bought a warm-up bucket (20 balls), practiced putting first with my new Nike Method putter (I putted well, though I'm not sure I'm as good as I was with the Cobra), then took a few warm-up swings before I broke out the Victory Red Hybrid #3 for the first time.

Like my Warrior hybrid, it is severely pronated, so I have to play it way back in my stance so that I don't wildly hook it. But the contact seemed very good, and the balls I hit straight seemed to be 200 yards or more. I'll have to hit a small bucked just with that club to see if I can tame the shots.

Then there's the TaylorMade R9. I know it's supposed to be a far better club than my Cleveland driver, and I know the pros use it and a whole lot of other people do. But I have to play it so far back in my stance for me even to have any hope of not hooking it that it feels awkward. I think it's time to tinker with the adjustments. If I set it towards the slice position, then set the ball more forward, perhaps that will allow me to feel comfortable in my stance, then deliver straight drives. Otherwise, it's a good, expensive club that serves no purpose.

I wrote the golf-equipment round-up story, a total of 650 words. I really hope I get more than a token $100 for it.

I also think it's time to tinker with the new Mizuno wedges. I think the lofts are goofy, but the clubs feature the latest technology, so I should see if they benefit me. If I replace my traditional sand wedge with the 60 degree, I can put the 54 in my bag and keep the wedge I'm already comfortable and fairly proficient with. Though maybe I should check the loft on that so I know what I'm talking about.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

That's Golf

After my therapy appointment today I thought I'd calm the swirling thoughts in my head by playing nine holes at the Rancho 3 Par. Bad idea, as it turned out. On the course that I nearly parred two days ago, I could not find a single green in regulation, could not make a putt and could not quiet my thoughts. I was 10 over.

Discombobulated and not wanting to leave on that note (particularly after using my new Nike Method putter to little effect), I told the starter that I'd like to go around again, since my round was not nearly what I had hoped it would be. He said knowingly and with the appropriate amount of sympathy in his voice, "That's golf." I paid my $7.50 (on Fridays, the price jumps 50 cents), then tried to put that first round behind me.

I missed a four-foot par putt on the first and a two-foot par putt on the second (should have pulled the pin and acted as though the shot mattered), but other than that, I played much, much better, hitting four greens this time, being pin high four other times, making the rest of the putts from reasonably makeable distances and effectively erasing the frustrations of the first round.

Calm the head, and the body will follow. And I think that the converse can also be true.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010


Compared to creating a golf-related website, golfing is simple. The game is impossible to master, but at least it's intuitive: hit the ball towards the hole. Creating a website, however (at least as I attempted this task tonight for nearly three and a half hours) is nowhere near intuitive and, in fact, may prove far more difficult for me to do than to become a scratch golfer.

Towards this latter end, I played a nine-hole golf course I've never played before, Penmar. I asked the starter if a single could go out, and he said, "Yeah, you're on the tee." Racing to the first tee without having putted, stretched, warmed up, affixed the various braces that I wear or mentally prepared myself to find the zen inherent in the game did not give me much confidence as I addressed the ball. I hit the drive a bit left, but hard and far, and, well, perhaps I should race and not be ready more often.

I parred the first, birdied the second, parred the third and nearly drove the green, 270 yards from the tee, on the fourth. I was 10 feet off the green, and I said to myself, I can't believe this, but I'm about to start par, birdie, par, birdie, at worst, since I could possibly make this eagle chip. The lesson for the day, of course, is: One shot at a time, without considering significance, consequence or score. I left the 7-iron chip 15 feet short, blew the angry putt four feet past, then missed the comebacker. From eagle to bogey in three easy steps. I parred the next, however, and was even par through 5.

Then I came down to Earth a bit, bogeying the last four. But here's how I'm choosing to look at things: Over the course of the last 18 holes I've played, including the Rancho 3-Par and Penmar, I'm only 5 over. Not bad at all for a guy who had trouble breaking 100 throughout 2009.

If, however, the creation of the website, Golf As Therapy, continues to drain me as tonight's effort has, I may have to seek professional assistance.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

... but no cigar

The new putter and hybrid that Nike is sending me were supposed to arrive today, but, surprise, surprise, they never arrived. So after waiting around, rewriting the beginning of my story on Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and making plans to attend the Bob Hope Classic next week in the Palm Springs area, I decided I would practice my chipping and putting. When I arrived at the Rancho 3 Par, though, the chipping green was closed, so I decided to play nine holes, instead.

And oh how close I came to glory. Had the 20-foot putt on No. 7 not come out of the hole after dipping halfway in, or if the chip on the ninth had gone six inches farther, I'd have shot an even par. Had both of these things happened, I would have broken par.

And, of course, had I not stupidly decided to try a Texas wedge on the third (a shot I never use ... for good reason, apparently) and instead had hit the 7-iron chip shot that delivered two tap-ins on other holes today, I could have been a contenda, instead of a bandy-legged ... never mind.

With the exception of one shot, I struck the ball purely today, chipped it very well and putted just as well. If I had assessed the severity of the wind better, I would have easily broken par, since twice I hit exactly the shot I wanted but came up far short, forcing chips from the rough instead of easy putts.

All in all, though, the round felt great, partly because I almost managed to achieve a zen-state, slowly walking between shots, reminding myself that there is no score, only the next shot. And it worked, since I would not have guessed a year ago, as I nursed a broken arm, that I could flirt with par, even on such a rinky-dink course. But there it is—a new year, a new game.

And now it would be great if I could add some new words to Exit Wound.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

At the Turn

Although my intention was to practice golf in some form every day, I only technically met that objective today by making a few strokes with my putter, sans a ball, and then practicing my chipping motion in my bedroom with one of the Mizuno wedges from which I have not yet removed the plastic wrap.

I did learn at a cooking school today how to dice an onion properly, but it has yet to be determined whether that skill will improve my game.

That said, however, I did do something golf related when I read a handful of pages of The Little Red Book, and I will now sit down to read Golf Magazine.

So, although it's not much, it is definitely something. And some practice (especially considering how enfeebled I feel after yesterday's two long walks spoiled) is better than none.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Momentum Shift

What a difference a week makes. Last Monday on Buenaventura I hit the ball so well that had I been playing stroke play instead of best ball with my dad, I may have broken 80. Today, with my driver having abandoned me to the extent that I repeatedly dubbed drives that dribbled only 50 and 70 yards, I came back down to the pedestrian game I regularly play. Although in the first 18 holes (I walked 36, something I have never done and something I will likely regret tomorrow) I only hit four or five bad shots, I did not hit many fairways and found myself in jail most of the round, missing short putt after short putt and lipping out on 5 of the first 7 holes, shooting a 90 from the whites.

The second time around I also struggled horribly from the tee, found myself in the woods nearly every par four and par five hole, then ran out of gas (five protein bars are not enough to sustain me through 36 holes, I learned) about the 14th, carding consecutive sevens, on my way to a 92 from the blues. I did, however, make my second birdie of the day on 14 and felt better for a few shots, including a solid drive on 15.

But the day can best be summed up by my 36th hole: A dubbed drive off the tee (on a hole that last week I birdied twice by cutting the corner and driving the ball over trees, and I birdied this morning by drilling a great eight iron third shot to the back finge, then making the 15-foot putt), a drive that didn't even reach the fairway, followed by a blasted seven iron over two trees, which left me needing simply to hit the same seven iron again. I almost did, but hit it a touch less well, missed clearing the greenside bunker by three inches, and plugged. I actually didn't see the ball for more than 30 seconds searching the bunker. It had almost completely buried. Three inches higher and I would have been putting for birdie. As it was, however, I made yet another double.

All in all, though, an excellent day. Even though my game was not nearly what I had hoped it would be, THE game is great fun, and the foursomes were filled today with interesting, fun guys, one of whom shot a 71, having hit 17 greens in regulation before chunking a 20-yard chip on the last hole. Of course, he realized that he was about to be on in regulation for all 18 holes, so this fantastic golfer then chunked it. That's golf, as they say.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gathering Momentum

An hour of chipping with a lob wedge, a wedge and a 7 iron, followed by a half hour of putting prepared me for tomorrow's round, I hope. My plan is to play the round at Buenaventura as though I'm in a tournament, no improved lies, no mulligans and no gimmes. I intend to use the round to establish a handicap.

More important than the golf practice, however, is the fact that I had my first legitimate writing session on Exit Wound in a long, long time. I wrote 1275 words, and I think I worked my way out of the plotting stagnation that had caused me to cringe every time I hoped to sit down to work on the novel. I'm hoping the momentum continues.

Of course, I didn't write the story about the Alabama Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that I intended to write, but I think the rule I will try to follow this year is: Writing is writing. Don't be too particular about what kind it is, so long as I produce plenty of words. Some of them may even be worth reading.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being Thankful

I attended my grandmother's 90th birthday today, and although the group did its share of laughing, I wanted to take up smoking, sky diving and knife juggling after seeing how time ravages people. What's the point of living a long time if hobbling, falling and being crotchety accompany you on your long journey? My great aunt, Honey, never a kind or giving person, is so shrill, so negative and so self absorbed that she would be a grotesque parody of a bitter old coot if she weren't there in the flesh in front of us, scolding, taking us to task and denigrating everything around her.

All in all, it was a day I would have rather spent on the golf course, certainly. Instead, I simply did some putting on the carpet and watched a few holes of golf on t.v.

I am looking forward to the chance to contribute to The Walking Golfer. It will not be a money-making endeavor, but it should lead to some rounds of golf, and who knows where it might lead.

So at least on that golfing front I've made progress.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Playing Partner

As well as I struck the ball two days ago on the range equalled how poorly I struck the ball today on the Rancho 3 Par. Perhaps my concentration was off, since I had just visited my therapist, and, despite his comment "I think you're okay," I have my doubts, and doubting is what I must have been doing while standing over the two three footers that I missed today. I did, however, sink a 15 footer from the fringe, and I met a guy named Vince who says he wouldn't mind heading out and hitting the ball together every now and again. And he said that his girlfriend has an attractive single friend who's looking to meet someone. Wonder if being a mediocre golfer is a deal breaker for her.

My friend Caplan suggested at dinner tonight that I write in my blog the risque, humorous and often absurd stories that I tell to him. As tempting as that sounds, I don't think I could tip the followers of my travel stories off to this site if I were to turn it too blue. Though perhaps I've already sullied the product with R-rated fare? And maybe I shouldn't direct anyone to the blog but people who appreciate ribald stories. I'll take Caplan's suggestion under advisement, especially since it's more fun for me to write the other stuff and more fun to read it. That is, if I knew how to get readers. And not alienate those I have. You see the dilemma.

I was tipped to a very cool website called, and ambulatory hackers should check it out.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Blahs

I felt blue most of the day, couldn't do much more than identify photos to accompany the last travel feature I wrote. The blahs had me, and the enthusiasm with which I began the new year waned. Practically none of the friends that I mentioned my blog to even bothered to visit it, which made me admit how difficult it is to make a dent in the world at large if I can't even make a dent in my tiny little world.

So instead of continuing to beat myself up for not being able to produce the words I had hoped to produce today, I headed to the Rancho Park Par-3 course, tried to put myself in the zone, then smoothly dropped my first wedge from 98 yards 12 feet from the pin. I missed the birdie putt, but I then lofted my next wedge from 100 yards to 6 feet, then slipped the birdie putt in the side door. My well-struck 7 iron on the next hole settled on the fringe (the greens on this course are smaller than on any other course I've seen, so it's possible to hit a good shot but still not be on). I then choked on a 3-foot par putt. I played only okay from there on out, ending up 7 over. But it was a good solid start, felt peaceful to be outside, and I got out of my head for a while.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
- Dale Carnegie

In an attempt to test Mr. Carnegie's philosophy, I thought about golf today, instead of what I don't have, who I am not, where I haven't been or what I am not doing. To that end, I thought that I'd go to the range to hit some balls.

I bought a medium bucket, which contained 52 balls. Of the first 42 balls I hit, 38 of them were well struck and almost all of those were blasted, going much farther than my balls usually do (presuming that the distances on the range were properly marked). For example, I usually hit my hybrid 190, but today three of my hybrid shots appeared to go 220. I was crushing them.

But then, when it came time to hit my driver, I didn't have a rubber tee, didn't want to go to the pro shop to get one since a kid was waiting for my stall, and so I tried to finagle a tee out of a Chapstick tube. It worked fine for the first ball (which I bizarrely sliced), but on the second ball the tube disappeared into the distance, leaving a slimy smear on the green practice mat.

So I'm calling it a 42-ball bucket and calling my practice session on the range a huge success. I've never struck balls so well.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Game of Inches

As amazing as yesterday's day of golf was, it was nearly disastrous. On the 6th hole, a dogleg right that is drivable by long hitters who are able to lift their drives over the trees, I was standing in the middle of the green, waiting for one of the guys in our foursome to putt. I heard a thud, then jumped when I realized that the noise was created by a ball landing between my legs. The guy on the tee hadn't bothered to see if the green was clear before trying to drive it. He had hit a great drive and would be putting for an eagle, but had the ball been six feet higher when it arrived where I was standing, I'd have been hit in the head, since the ball mark was directly between my feet. As angry as I was at the dolt who hit the ball, I'd have been a lot angrier had the ball hit me, so I suppose I should consider myself lucky.
I'm working on it.

I practiced a few putts on the carpet to an electronic ball-return machine while watching reruns of Golf's Big Break on the Golf Channel. And now I'll read the latest issue of Golf Digest, the equipment issue.

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Monday, January 4, 2010


A year ago today, I broke my right wrist when I went over the handlebars of my bike while riding down Santa Monica Boulevard. Just before my ride, the woman who had moved to Knoxville, Tennessee three weeks before, the one who made it clear that we were not and would never be a couple, texted me these words: Don't you wish we were fucking?

This text came five days after she emailed me nude pictures of herself, a bit of salacious electronic communication that completely confused me, since we had definitively broken up two weeks prior to that.

So, as I rode down the street a year ago, my mind was on how I should respond to her text. I was three blocks from where I intended to pull over to text her ... something ... though I had no idea what to say. The passenger door on a green economy car suddenly opened into the bike lane, and time slowed down enough to allow me to contemplate how I should land, whether I could avoid landing on my bad back and how painful my collision with the blacktop was going to be. Very, it turned out. Not surprisingly, the cast and rehabilitation didn't improve my golf game one iota.

What a difference a year makes. Today my father and I teed it up at Buenaventura Golf Course in Ventura, and as we stood on the first tee, I said, "Pops, we're going to flirt with 80 today," knowing full well that we had never shot a score in that vicinity. I was more than half joking, but I looked at the low slope of 114 and the short yardage from the white tees (5412), and I kinda-sorta believed we could best-ball our way to a really good score. I had absolutely no idea that the practice I put in yesterday would pay off so resoundingly, that my drives would repeatedly bisect the fairways and stop 275 yards from the tee, that my wedge play would settle us on the large greens often and that we would putt nearly lights out. We missed an uphill birdie putt on the first hole from eight feet, then another from a lousy 3 and a half, but otherwise, we found the bottom of the holes to the tune of 25 total putts. We shot a flippin' two-over 72. We had no idea that we could flirt so scandalously with par.

Enthused and wanting more, we set out again.

Soon I wondered if we had made a mistake, since we started double bogey, bogey, a stumbling start that seemed to suggest that we were lucky and in a zone during the first round, that our real games would reveal themselves and that we would score somewhere in the mid-80s, probably with a mulligan each. But we proved that at least for today, on that course, in this new year, while embracing a new philosophy and a belief that improvement, success and happiness are all well within grasp, we still managed to roll in three more birdies, missing another by half a turn, and missed an eight foot eagle putt in the dark on the 36th hole of the day by half an inch. We went 38-37.

Today was indisputably the best day of golf I've ever had. Playing well was fantastic, but sharing laughs with my father and watching him drill one long putt after another was transcendent.

Albert Einstein said, If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.

My goal is self-improvement, and my golf game improved exponentially today.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Day At A Time

A few months ago in Golf Digest I read about a guy who made a commitment to become a better golfer. He had trouble breaking 100, but he decided he could and would become good at the sport, so he practiced every day. In a year, if I remember the details accurately, he had gotten down to scratch. Today he is the head golf pro at Pebble Beach.
My aspirations in the golf world are not as lofty as his: I will be perfectly fine being hired by Cypress Point.

As much as my instinct is to disbelieve his story, amazing things can happen when people believe that amazing things can happen—then work like hell to achieve their desired results. To that end, after I verify my existence via caffeine ingestion, I will work like hell on my chipping. Then write a story I set aside long ago.

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As I spent nearly an hour and a half hitting chip shots with my 64-degree lob wedge to a small, raggedy practice green at the Rancho 3-Par course, I realized that until today I had never really practiced before. Yes, I have hit balls on a range, but I have usually hit three to five balls with each club, either hit them well or poorly, or hit some of each, then headed to the course. And I've spent 20-minute stretches on putting greens, not ever, to my knowledge, unlocking any secrets. But today I worked only with one club, hitting 10 balls towards the pin tucked only two paces on the green, trying time after time to put all 10 balls on the putting surface from distances of from 10 to 20 yards, out of thick rough, light rough and off of hard-pan. I hit circuit after circuit, with total and complete inconsistency. I would think I "had it," opening my left foot, putting the lob wedge far forward in my stance, then taking a smooth swing, telling myself to accelerate through the shot and not to try to help the ball up, only to chunk the next three shots. Of course, adding that negative "don't try to help the ball up" mantra sabotaged my progress, so my swing thought became solely "accelerate." And I eventually put all 10 balls on the putting surface, six of them within six feet.
So that's what it feels like to practice the game of golf. Who knew?

Golfers, I suppose.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Golf Medicine

I learned last night that Harvey Penick titled his first entry in his Little Red Book, Golf Medicine, a title that I choose to interpret as too similar to the title of my blog to go unnoticed. There, I've noticed it.

Today at Balboa Golf Course in the Valley, after I practiced my putting, chipping and then hit a small bucket of balls, I waited in line to ask the starter whether I would have other golfers joining me for the first super-twilight tee time at 3 P.M. As I stood in line, an old man in front of me started screaming at the starter, cursing as much as anyone I've ever heard, threatening the starter and actually reaching through the bars of the open window to try to grab the starter. The dispute, I discerned by parsing the curse words, had something to do with money and what the curser took to be a smart-ass comment by the starter. The cursing continued for 30 more seconds as the guy slowly walked away from the starter. When the epithets no longer were within earshot of us, the guy immediately in front of me said, "Happy Holidays."

I only had time to walk nine holes—and finished the last one in the dark, aiming my half-wedge shot between what appeared to be bunkers and hoping my shot landed somewhere near the pin (I was 30 feet long). I did not score well (a 10-over 47), only shooting one par, on the second hole (the 278-yard drive helped), but my putting was very solid, even though only one putt of length fell, and I enjoyed playing the game with three good golfers, all strangers to me but regulars on that course. The front nine, though not in great shape, is very long (3541 yards from the blue tees) and the greens are enormous and surprisingly good, considering the number for rounds they see. Despite hitting a decent shot out of a greenside trap on the first hole, my scoring irons inflicted most of the damage today. I need to improve my chipping dramatically if I am going to bring my scroes down.

The course and its sister course, Encino, are 12 miles from my apartment, and I paid $11.50 to squeak nine in before dark. Besides being outdoors in good weather, getting some execise by carrying my bag for nine holes and once again not having a three-putt green, I also didn't cuss out anyone. Including myself.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

The First Tee

Golf cannot be mastered, the saying goes. Participants can practice diligently, take lessons and study the countless golf magazines that promise to cut strokes from their readers' games, yet no one will ever shoot a perfect round. The lowest official score recorded in professional competition is 59, though a perfect score for 18 holes would be 18. Obviously, therefore, golf is a game of progress, not perfection.

This "pursuit of progress" has led me to create Golf As Therapy on this first day of 2010, since life is also a pursuit of progress, and I feel that I have become stagnant both in golf and in my life. I began playing golf at the age of 13, and I am now 45, yet based on my scores—in the last year, as high as 116—a person knowledgeable about golf might guess that I am relatively new to the game. And as for my life ...

It is accurate to say that I am not happy. Certainly, I've had moments of frivolity, periods of contentment and instances of hopefulness, of believing that circumstances could theoretically align themselves in such a way that I would believe that life predominantly consists of pain-free moments. But, so far, this belief is only theoretical.

The paradox implicit in my dour assessment of life is that I am a travel writer and photographer; nearly everyone who learns what I do for a living tells me that I have the greatest job in the world and dreams about abandoning his or her occupation for the chance to do what I do. And I am certainly not begrudging the fact that I get paid (albeit nowhere near princely sums) to participate in activities that others pursue on vacations: hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, hang gliding and, as often as possible, golfing. I write a monthly outdoors column, and I have experienced adventures that most athletic types would give up their health insurance to experience. To see some of my work, please visit:

More stagnancy and decline: I have lived in the same ho-hum apartment in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years; I am severely indebted; the 50 stories a year that I had had published in monthly publications the previous two years have dwindled to fewer than 30, the sullen economy shrinking advertising budgets and, in turn, pages of editorial, or killing magazines altogether; I have not completed either of the novels I've started, having stalled long ago on the magnum opus that was supposed to launch me into the literary statosphere (or at least allow me to stop writing for magazines that neither paid me well nor showed me any respect), and I have left Exit Wound, the detective story that was supposed to allow me to prove to myself that I could complete a novel, mouldering on the hard-drive of my computer, there to mock me silently every time I sit down to write another travel feature; and I have not had what I would call a healthy, supportive, inspiring relationship in 22 years. Maybe ever.

Since adventures are not love, and since a loveless life, however thrilling, will inevitably feel empty, at least to people who value and seek love as I do, I've decided to change, beginning with my golf game, then progressing, one stroke at a time, one day at a time and one blog entry at a time towards a healthy game and a happy life. I am, however, not deluded enough to think that if I were somehow to claw all the way down to scratch that I would be happy—since, afterall, golf is only a game, though one many of us are quite passionate about. I will, however, have worked at something daily, contemplated methods to improve, implemented them when I could and made progress towards a goal. My intention, of course, is to apply this same diligence to other aspects of my life—namely to writing, to sorting through the wreckage of my past and to establishing and maintaining a healthy, loving relationship—and perhaps then my pains will dissipate and life's bounties will become manifest, rather than theoretical.

I will now head to the Rancho Park 3-Par in West L.A, then will report back on my first round of this new year, the first round of the new me.

Yours in Progress,
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The first round of the new year began with a well-struck wedge to 12 feet from 98 yards; the birdie putt was too hard, but I made the par. Yet, with the exception of a few solid irons and one nice lob wedge to four feet, I played as poorly as I have in any of my dozen rounds on this course, shooting a 10-over-par 37. I didn't three putt, though, so I'm using that as my positive take-away from Day One.

Now I will begin to read Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, then exercise, then write a magazine column, then wade back into Exit Wound. Of course, this plan is only theoretical.