Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back At 2014, part I

Well, I've put off this post and now, it cannot be put off any longer. It's time to look back at the year that barely was, a.k.a. 2014.

In the golf world at large, it was a year to forget. From my vantage point, the year was dominated by the story of declining participation and economic shrinkage. Which then gave rise to horrible stories about dumbed-down rules and gaping wide cups and generally way too much chatter about "what golf needs".

In golf tournament action, it was also a year to forget. The Ryder Cup wasn't just a bitter loss for us Americans. It was an ugly, contentious, never-ending ordeal that brought down everyone involved, from the players down to every last spectator. It was a painful reminder that professional golf in 2014 is no longer about having fun.

For my part, I would be an asshole if I didn't cop to it being a quite good golf year. (My scores still sucked deeply though.) The summer marked this blog's one year anniversary. That alone is a pretty big deal. You know what they say about blogs, and how most of them fail within the first year of business. The fact that we've made it this far and are still going strong is encouraging. Especially when you take a look at the current golf blogosphere and see all the sites that have fallen victim to neglect and eventual abandonment. Like I like to say when I am trying to talk up this blog: at least it's fresh crap.

Anyways, for me the look back at the year in was full of surprises. There's so much that I can hardly remember writing. Some of it's kind of fun and funny, I have to admit. And somehow, I made a pretty big heap of this stuff. It'll take maybe a couple of posts to cover it all. So let's take a look back at some of the more memorable words, pictures, and word-pictures.

Raising the Dead

"Seriously, you tell people around the water-cooler that you just got back from skiing in sub-zero temperatures and that makes you some kind of a cool guy. But talk about playing golf anywhere near the freezing point of water and you'll be considered some kind of lunatic. Where's the logic in that? I don't see it."

"Teeing a ball was one of the big challenges of the day. I'd kneel down, trying to use all my weight to drive one in, twisting and screwing, hoping for just a centimeter of purchase. I was thankful to just get through the day without an impaling mishap. The ninth tee sits in shade and was so frozen solid I sweated for a couple minutes trying to penetrate it. Finally I gave up, set the ball on the turf and hit 3-wood instead."

"It's all about the layers. Said it before, I'll say it again--modern synthetic fabrics represent one of mankind's greatest feats."

"I walked up near the green and prepared to chip. The group saw me and were surprised--"Oh! Where you come from?" No reply, I just sort of looked through them and continued sizing up my chip-shot. They actually hurried to finish. Hmm, maybe these people have some sense of right and wrong after all. Or maybe they were freaked out by the crazy man appearing out of nowhere with the faraway stare and ticking time-bomb vibe. Hey whatever works. I putted out and made it to the bus stop in time."

Full Swing

"No, I stuck it out (of course), paid the fee and got grouped with a pair of really old guys, both push-carting bags and clubs they had probably acquired as young men."

Winter Support Group

"Spring arriving only means the end of fast rounds, the end of cheap green fees. It means Hello, slow play. Hello, boring, annoying people. Not long after that it's gonna be Hello, sweaty glove; Hello, greasy sunscreen; Hello, heatstroke. Hello, 5pm twilight rates. It's all downhill from here, 'til late October perhaps. But who can even think that far ahead."

"This is a serious matter. This is not some jokey, SEO-baiting bullshit puff piece about how to deal with those pesky winter blues. I have no pithy tips, novel solutions or poignant JPEG's to offer."

Cold Comfort

"Some people might enjoy it; to me the driving range has about as much to do with actual golf as a drive-thru carwash does to actual driving."

"About halfway into it a guy arrived and set up a few stalls over, struttin his stuff, his Rocketballz and what not. Insecure of course, spying what I'm doing and everything. I could feel it, the 'tude was palpable. But whatevs. In between clubs I went and sat and watched him hit a couple. Pffft. Somehow it relieved me when I saw that he had nothing. Now look who's the insecure one. That's right--me."

"This is quite possibly the most depressing practice green in America, yet I was glad to be here, more or less sheltered from the cold, working on my chip-and-putting, that wonderful game-within-the-game."

A Tribute To Not Bill Earle's Ball

"For most of us, just to safely pilot that puny little thing over the three and a half-plus miles from first teebox to bottom of the 18th cup, flying over bushes, water hazards, all kinds of unfriendly terrain and wilderness is sort of a wondrous feat."

"And when you lose a ball, the sting comes not so much from the loss of a couple bucks' worth of sporting goods, but more from having failed an ally, and the guilt from having made it pay for your ineptitude with its life. While I try not to get weepy over mass-produced chunks of polymer, one's golfball deserves better than to be abandoned in some putrid pond, possibly until the next geologic age. Doesn't matter if it's a ProV1, Maxfli Noodle, or a hot pink Precept "MC Lady"."

Ghettogolf: Douglaston GC, Douglaston, Queens, NY

"Today it's a modest muni, but it began life as the "North Hills Country Club" back in the 1920's--the kind of place the Great Gatsby and his prick friends would have played probably."

Legitimategolf in the Matrix

"Launch monitor technology is everywhere in the golf universe these days. It's employed in telecasts to make the action seem more interesting. It's used as a teaching tool. And when calibrated properly a launch monitor is an invaluable sales tool for the retail industry.

I have mixed feelings. I mean, I suppose technology was instrumental in the discovery of the "new ballflight laws" which I'd consider somewhat relevant to living a good golf-life. But then again when you have rank amateurs freely tossing around terms like smash factor or angle of descent everyone loses, in my opinion."

"Golf Manhattan is a facility dedicated to simulated golf, located in deep Midtown. A golf studio if you will. It's been around for a few years now, which suggests there's a decent number of simulated golfers out there."

"Afterwards I tried hard to think up a scenario in which simulated golf might actually fill a need in my life. Short of some kind of nuclear winter/zombie apocalypse situation in which we're all forced to stay indoors at all times, I couldn't come up with one."

"In a world that's only getting more overpopulated and resource-scarce every day, simulation is sure to become an increasingly legitimate way to enjoy the game. To me though, it's just another sign of the end."

"If I seem weirdly rational about things it's probably because I officially lost hope a while ago."

"I made the mistake of thinking winter golf was my friend. No, winter golf is a wild animal, and today it was in a foul mood, I got too close and ended up getting bit in the face."

"One at a time they would step off the cart, grab a fairway wood, remove the headcover, drop it on the ground, practice swing, punch the ball 50-60 yards forward, pick the headcover up off the ground and put it back on, get back in the cart. Among the four of them they must have taken about thirty shots just to get to the green, where each of them four or five-putted. The existential limits of how slow people can play golf were stretched, I'm sure. The thing that made me mental was the headcovers. If not for the headcovers, I wouldn't have mentioned any of this."

"Also sorry to say that I lost Not Bill Earle's Ball after six holes, after a yanked drive. Well, it was an exceptional run. We made it to 85 consecutive holes together. I was hoping to make it to a hundred just for a goof, but the thing was on its last legs anyways. The finish was worn off and there were some bad scuffs. Even if we'd made it to a hundred and the ball lived to see retirement, what would I have done with it, put it in a display case on a shelf? I don't think so. No, it had a good life. It saw a variety of courses, made a bunch of birdies (7!) and generated way more good times than a typical urethane-covered ball gets to in one lifetime. Plus it was immortalized in its own blog post, what more do you want, move on."

Roadgolf: The Carolinas, Part I
Roadgolf: The Carolinas, Part II

"I feel like a slightly more complete American now that I've visited two more states in this great union. And on top of all that, the dog didn't once barf in the car."

Just Dropped In...

"It's happened slowly and without much fanfare, but winter has ended. Which technically means that spring began right? I guess what I'm saying is that even though we just made it through The Worst Winter of Our Lives, spring golf is feeling strangely blah."

"At what point does casual water become serious water?"

"Also the round was funny in that I failed to hit a single crummy green in regulation. I realize that in the universe of golf I rank barely above pond scum, but that is sad even for me."

"I know a lot of the population will look on this behavior as some kind of pointless self-flagellation. Well, maybe it is. It feels good, what am I going to tell you. I love the whole game, nasty rules and all. Plus there is a perverse pleasure in going against the grain. Try it sometime."

"I left that range feeling good and confident. Still don't know how to explain or work my way out of this scoring funk, though. I had better though--writing about sucking will eventually get old."

"Once upon a time this blog was launched, with the loose objective of discussing "your game, my game, the pro game, etc" but lately it's been falling into a sinkhole of self-referentiality.

"Since discovering Silver Lake last fall, I've been playing it a lot, but until now I had never walked the course, not once. Wow. It's like, one day you wake up and realize you have become what you once sneered at. Life sucks like that."

"If you are like me and golf to you is a game of misses, let's face it you're already on a cliff overlooking disaster. Zig-zagging around in a cart can only make the whole situation that much more dangerous."

"Plus after a bad swing you can burn off some negative energy by walking extra hard. When you are angry in a cart you tend to just slam on the gas pedal, which really isn't that cathartic."

"Scoring--as I might have mentioned--is crushing my spirit lately. The course doesn't feel like a safe place right now. The range is though. Out here it's all about hitting sweet shots. Here if you can flush it, you are pretty good."

WTF: Your Summer 2014 Forecast

"Already, online assholes everywhere have started to chortle about a "Solar Vortex"--sure to become the latest in face-punchingly annoying hashtag catchphrases."

"Nobody in their right mind likes armpit weather but I have to say my feelings about this particular forecast are mixed. Last year it was decided that the summer golf season in New York will now be categorized as the off-season, on account of an intense dislike of five-hour rounds and increasingly, all the other people in the world who play golf."

"What's happening to me? What's happening to golf? What's happened to me and golf? Spring has been eye-rollingly lame and un-Springlike, which I'll go ahead and blame for my fuckall attitude about everything lately."

"Is this all a sign of things to come? Is this what we can look forward to, a hellish dystopian future with just two extreme seasons to a year--barren, spirit-crushing winters, and thundery, wet, oven-roast summers? If so, I welcome the new world order."

Check back for Part II!


  1. bkuehn "ahhhh" 1952January 1, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Well, I can now go out for a walk with my wife in the "real feel" 10 degrees with a smile on my face as I have had a good dose of legitimategolf.

  2. Cart cover and heater inside last couple of days. Course almost empty. Almost felt like I was cheating. NOT!



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