On the Course: Not enough balls
August 3, 2005
Here’s a tip you won’t find in many golf magazines: If you haven’t played in more than six months, use someone else’s golf balls when you do make it to the links.My dad was the victim of this policy last week at a not-particularly difficult course in Grand Rapids, Mich., called Gleneagle. He set me up with two sleeves at the first tee, which we both figured would be plenty.But it turned out I would need a new one on average about every hole.I’d only lost one in the woods going into the par-3 fifth, where I fed the pond three treats with a trio of 8-iron hacks.I hit one out of bounds across a stream into someone’s yard on the next hole.Found water again on the ninth.Lost one in the woods on 12.Plunked two in the water and one in the trees on lucky 13.And sliced one into a busy highway for good measure on the 16th.Those were the ones I remember. I think in all there were at least 15 I’ll never see again. Needless to say, there was a lot of graphite on the scorecard.Luckily we found a few balls someone else had lost along the way or I’d have been playing with crabapples from some of the trees lining the course.Golf is not like riding a bike. If you don’t play for awhile, the game leaves you. Your swing breaks down in the tee box, you lose your touch around the green, you read greens like an illiterate.But occasionally you can get lucky and hit a great shot. Then you’re in real trouble because that tricks you into thinking you should, or at least could, be able to hit good shots all the time. If you don’t play enough, though, those great shots are far outnumbered by the “oh, grrreat” shots that land in water and woods. Luckily, I knew of another tip from golfing great Arnold Palmer that can take all those strokes off. It’s called an eraser.