Warren Miller: A round of flog
July 7, 2011
The game of golf has its origin sometime between 500 and 500,000 years ago. The origin of its name occurred 437 years ago. There was the head of a family in the Scottish Highlands that had a genetic disorder called semi-dyslexic. They would occasionally pronounce or write a word backward. Two of his teenagers one day were beating rocks with a stick trying to get them into a gopher hole … a game they called “flog.” One day they came home and reported to their father, who was also semi-dyslexic, that “Flog spelled backwards is golf.”
The kids used to play until dark and then started betting on who could get the rock in the gopher hole while hitting the rock the least amount of times. As they grew older, in order to make it worthwhile the winner of the hole got to have a shot of scotch after his victory. Because there are approximately 18 shots in a fifth of scotch whiskey, the game ended when the scotch was gone. The loser became the designated driver of the horse and carriage.
The term “golf garb” was also invented by the same dyslexic clan. Brag spelled backwards is garb. The following bit, will explain how the word knickers, was invented by a golfer’s wife.
Old man McTavish and his buddies were really proud of their clan tartans and would wear their kilts proudly until that wind blew in wet and cold from the North Sea. He kept coming home after a round of golf with his legs cold clear up to his belly button. His wife finally got tired of him complaining about how cold his legs were when the wind blew up his kilts so she sewed them shut around his legs at the bottom.
It worked like a charm, and now he had no more cold under his kilt. Soon all of his golfing buddies had their kilts sewn shut at the bottom in the same manner. The first time they played in a tournament there were a lot of people laughing at them in their funny looking kilts. There was a lot more snickering around the clubhouse and after a few tournaments the snickers got shortened to knickers and they are still called knickers 243 years later.
Almost every golfer who has played the game for a few years or more can mark the number of years of flogging around the course by how many obsolete putters he has hidden in his garage where his wife can’t find them. They vary in price from what a week long vacation in Hawaii costs to really expensive putters.
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They are used more than any other club in a round of golf because most golfers use those two or more times when they finally get within walking distance of the hole. They are light or heavy and have long or short handles but the most important thing is that they don’t bear any resemblance to last year’s putter (that we tell our wives we just have to have). It usually costs a little less than a million dollars to design a new putter and keep it in a price range that does not exceed the float left on your credit card.
Another club that is constantly changing in its design is the driver. They too come in all sizes, shapes, weight, loft and cost. Since you only use the driver once on each hole, it will take 30 or 40 games of golf to get your driver to cost under a $10 every time you use it. Since it gets used so seldom, there are companies that design all types of artistic club head club covers for them. They range from a trendy but old sweat sock at the cheap end to the occasional cover you might see on a resort course where they look the same as diamonds but are zircons, maybe.
All things being equal at the start of a game of golf, Tom Weiskoph who has won the British Open told me that there are 27,000,000 golfers in America and only 5 percent of them will ever break 100 and 2 percent of that 5 percent will ever break 80. Then he asked me a good question, “Is it really important for you to beat your local banker or whomever you play with? If not, why bother keeping score?”
Since that chairlift ride discussion with him I have not kept score. If someone I am playing with wants to keep my score he is welcome to do that for both of us because I’ve got it figured out: I know that the golf course will win every time.
It is now early July and I’m going to lug my flogging clubs all the way to Montana where last week there was still five feet of snow in the bunkers. I wonder how bunkers got that name …?