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GOLF ADVICE LANE
Key Ingredient to Rejuvenate Golf: Fighting
Tough Guy Reveals How Injection of Violence
Could Invigorate The Game of Golf
By James Pomerantz
Special to the Black Information Highway and
The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE
Ask most people what their favorite moment in the history of golf is, and they’ll pretty much all say the same thing: When Bob Barker kicked Adam Sandler’s butt.
Of course, Barker vs. Sandler, the Rumble in the Rough, wasn’t actually part of any televised golf event, but that doesn’t matter. For the general population, that dustup from Sandler’s movie Happy Gilmore was one of the biggest boosters of the game of golf since before Tiger Woods won his first Masters. It got me to thinking that as Tiger’s talent has taken a bit of a nosedive recently, maybe what golf needs to pick up its popularity and ratings are more fights. Fights on the course, fights in the clubhouse, fights with the fans and even fights on local courses just so the average Joe feels like he can get in on the action and truly BE a part of the sport.
It’s not like golf hasn’t had its share of hotheads. Decades ago, long before the utterance of a four-letter epithet on a course would result in a stiff fine from the PGA, golfers had far more personality than they do today.
In the 1930s, Bobby Jones was known for his hard drinking, womanizing, gambling and throwing clubs like javelins when fortune frowned upon his short game. In 1958, Tommy Bolt was a U.S. Open champion who earned nicknames like “Terrible Tommy” and “Thunder Bolt,” primarily for tantrums that featured hurling golf clubs as if they were ICBMs aimed at the Soviet Union at the dawn of the Cold War. In fact, a sports reporter named Dan Jenkins once famously wrote of an incident in which Bolt launched a 4-iron at a fence, breaking the club in two. After writing about it, Bolt got in Jenkins’ grill 1958-style, and called him a liar for reporting the incident. As the shouting match between the two escalated, Jenkins defended himself saying that everyone witnessed him doing it. Bolt’s retort? “It was a 5-iron!”
One time Bolt’s caddy handed him an inappropriate 2-iron for a shot out of the rough, and when Bolt questioned him on it, his caddy informed him it was the only unbroken club left in his bag.
We need more of that today. Certainly golf would be a lot more interesting if golfers buckled up their knickers, dropped the golf gloves and embraced a Happy Gilmore moment. Of course, golfers don’t like actual fights, per se, but they act out their conflicts in particularly passive-aggressive ways. For instance, when a foursome is playing a little too slow, it’s common practice for the group waiting behind them to fire off a tee shot or two before the slow group has completely vacated the space in front of them. When that happens to you next, my advice is to seize the opportunity to transform the game. If someone behind you decides that you deserve a Titleist to the forehead because they have to wait a little for you, that’s the time to reach in your bag and grab the club without a head – a properly pine-tarred Louisville Slugger baseball bat. In fact, equip each member of your foursome with bats, drop your bags, and turn around and start waving your bats over your head and howl like you’re auditioning for roles as extras in Braveheart 2. Charge the group behind you and have each member of your foursome target the weasel responsible for the last shot.
Contrary to the PGA rule book, aggression is not a disease. Golf may teach young men the finer qualities of a gentlemen’s game, but when we teach our sons to turn the other cheek as a way of life, we cripple them before they’ve learned to walk. What’s more, it takes about the same number of muscles to swing a 3-wood as it does a 39 ounce baseball bat.
And heck, if you can’t take a punch, stay home and watch the E Network or The Food Channel.
About James Pomerantz
James Pomerantz is the author of Tough Guys Always Play From The
He was born on August 24, 1953, and has been a golfer since he was
10 years old. He earned a First Degree Black Belt in Tibetan Kung-Fu
in 1991 (limber days long gone), and was once asked to vacate the
field and the town as a visiting team Little League head coach. He
does not understand the connection between spandex, bicycles and
middle-aged men, and believes that Walker and Texas Ranger Bobby are
inspirational and relevant child names. He is an alumnus (in one
piece) of the Gary Leffew Professional Bull Riding School in Santa
Maria , California . When asked to describe a tough guy in two words
or less, Pomerantz replied, “Pat Tillman.”