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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