I have always admired women on having some degree of “fashion sense”, the ability to put colors together properly and outfits that match. It appears to be an engrained quality which almost all women possess. One-out-of-a-thousand don’t get this fashion gene and no matter how hard they try they can’t get it together and stick out like a sore thumb. It’s not that they don’t go shopping or they don’t try to look good or they don’t want to look good…they just can’t do it and I feel sorry for them especially when they are in a group of well dressed women. The woman with the dark green blouse, brown slacks, and navy blue shoes, that’s her…that’s me. I am the one-in-a-thousand man that no matter how hard I try I cannot play golf. I’ve got the excuses down…it takes too long, it is a boring game, I’d rather play tennis instead…but in reality I just totally suck. Spending 35-years in the advertising business and never being able to play golf was a drag. Most men can at least hack it for 18-holes, those that don’t regularly practice and worship golf as some sort of religious experience. Many men are great at the game, play once-a-week, belong to a country club and spend at least one day a week M-F playing with clients. You have 4-hours to entertain, sell, bullshit and have fun all in the name of work…and if you’re lucky your company will pick up the tab. Not me…I sucked so bad I got more done at lunch. It wouldn’t be good for my clients to see me swearing, throwing clubs and shooting above 120. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I tried to play regularly after college and the first few years in the biz, but I never got any better and I grew to hate the game more and more. It got so sad that my friends would compliment me on any shot that got off the ground and landed in a fairway…any fairway as long as you could see where it landed. It wasn’t the least bit fun either, around hole-5 I would ask how much longer only to find I had 13-more holes of this agony. Playing 18-holes of golf to me was similar to my own personal Bataan death march. I hated every step, every swing…driving the cart became my only relief. My hatred hit a peak in 1983 when I was asked by the station I worked with, KTTV, who at the time carried the Dodgers live, to play in the Dodger sponsored Boy Scouts of America Golf Tournament at the Wilshire Country Club. My foursome included Al Campanis and his son, another man who was a Wilshire member and myself. Teeing off at the 1st hole was like singing the Star Spangled Banner naked at the Super Bowl. I was exposed for all to see and nowhere to hide. As the players names were announced each would hit a rocket shot off the tee and get applause as their ball went sailing down the fairway. Well soon enough they announced Craig Kinney was up…I prayed for one miracle shot, please let me hit it far enough to get away from the gallery, which was about 100-150 strong watching each player as they hit their first shot. I stepped up to the ball, complete silence, they didn’t know me from Adam, how bad could it be…horrible, my first shot was topped and my ball didn’t even make it to the women’s tee which is about 15-feet away. 0-for-1 and it was still my turn to hit as I was clearly farthest from the hole. My head got hot, my mind blurred and I walked up to the ball and without a practice swing I just hit it as hard as I could. It went in the air and thru some trees until CLANK it hit something solid like a house. At least I could walk away from the gallery, no clapping, just some under the breath murmers like it’s gonna be a long day. It was the longest day ever. Play was slow, the other 3-players in my group were good and 4-hours later I crawled into the clubhouse with a score of 118 which was about 46-strokes off the lead. My score would have been higher but the other players in the group would just mark down an 8 (snowman) on holes that could have been as high as 10-12. We politely said good-bye and I headed straight for the bar. It turns out I won a Dodger tournament golf bag in a pure luck drawing which is like a bald- headed man winning a hair dryer and brushes. It was cool looking but only drew cob-webs sitting in my garage until I finally gave it to a friend who could use it. Why did I suck so bad at this game? I could play baseball, toss the football, shoot hoops, hit a tennis ball…but I could not hit a golf ball. It wasn’t genetic, my dad was a great golfer, it was personal. Even my wife could beat me straight up at golf. She hits the ball 100-150 feet straight every time while I scatter shots in every direction racking up more penalty strokes than actual shots taken. The real hurt is when my friends suggested I wear a skirt on the golf course…OUCH.
One eye-opening insight I got into golf was the Country Club crowd. I got a chance over the years to visit Lakeside, Oakmont, Bel-Air, and the prestigous Los Angeles Country Club. One similarity…everyone is old, male & white. This is not a stereotype, it’s real. The only minorities I saw were cutting the course or serving the food. Women were less than 1% and were present only because their husbands belong. Helpers would polish your shoes, hand you towels in the bathroom, even wash your ass if you asked kindly. There was a popular expression in the 60’s & 70’s about ” The Man “. “The Man” keeps holding us down, I can’t get ahead because of ” The Man”…”The Man” being established white America who ran all the corporations and the rich who controlled the economy. I had always thought this to be such a vague generalization or even an excuse, I was wrong. I found out where “The Man” lives…in Country Clubs. Old, rich, white men in butt-ugly sweaters. I mean it is like you ate every color of sherbert ice cream and then threw up in a batch of wool. They take this wool and make golf sweaters from it. Then they get color blind tailors to make slacks that may or may not match. The only place you could fit in is a Country Club…Judge Smails is alive and well.
As I get older I’ve got golf looking at me in the face again. I mean, that’s what my wife and I are supposed to do. Move out to the desert and golf…God, I would rather live in the La Brea Tar Pits. Which leads me to the one positive thing I can think about golf…the courses themselves are located in some of the prettiest pieces of real estate in the country. I wouldn’t mind just walking the 18-holes without having to hit a ball. I would certainly get more exercise than stepping in and out of a cart. I’ll suggest this to Country Club Boards…let the public pay to put on shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers and walk on their courses like a nature walk. It should go over big, just try to avoid the NRA members hiding in the bushes.
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