Sunday, July 30, 2006

for the good of golf!

Not to beat this golf thing to death or anything but one of the reasons why I find golf endlessly amusing is that it is a game that actually makes rulings as inane as the ones below, all published on the official USGA website. To these, I've added my own suggested rulings.

18/3 Ball in Fork of Tree Moves in Relation to Ground But Not in Relation to Fork
Q. A ball rests in the fork of a branch of a tree. The player climbs the tree to play his next stroke. The branch bends under his weight. Although the ball has moved relative to the ground, it has not moved relative to the fork. Is the ball deemed to have moved?

A. The ball is deemed not to have moved since it did not move in relation to the fork of the tree in which it was lodged.

Me: Wha? First, dislodge the ball up your ass and get down from the freaking tree.

18-1/6 Ball at Rest Moved by Blowing Tumbleweed
Q. A tumbleweed blowing across the course strikes a ball at rest and knocks it into the hole. What is the procedure?

A. In the circumstances, a tumbleweed is an outside agency. Rule 18-1 applies and the ball must be replaced without penalty.

MS: Blowing tumbleweed is an act of god. Collect your damn clubs, head to the 7-eleven immediately and play the lottery.

18-1/7 Ball in Plastic Bag Moves When Bag Blown to New Position by Wind
Q. A player’s ball comes to rest in a plastic bag that is lying on the ground. Before the player can invoke Rule 24-1b, a gust of wind blows the bag and the ball to a new position. In proceeding under Rule 24-1b, should the player drop the ball?

A. Wind is not an outside agency. However, if an object being moved by the wind moves a ball, the object is an outside agency in the circumstances — see Decision 18-1/6. In this case, the bag, not the wind, caused the ball to move. Accordingly, under Rules 18-1 and 24-1b, the player must drop the ball directly under the place where it originally lay in the bag.

MS: Plastic bags are acts of man. Lie down on ground, place head in bag, wrap golf towel around neck.

23/3 Half-Eaten Pear
Q. A half-eaten pear lies directly in front of a ball in a bunker and there is no pear tree in the vicinity of the bunker. In the circumstances, is the pear an obstruction rather than a loose impediment, in which case the player could remove it without penalty?

A. No. A pear is a natural object. When detached from a tree it is a loose impediment. The fact that a pear has been half-eaten and there is no pear tree in the vicinity does not alter the status of the pear.

MS: Yeah but, when the pear fell on the fairway and no one was there to see it, did it make a sound?

23/5.5 Status of Insect-Like Creatures
For the purposes of the Rules of Golf, creatures that are similar to insects, such as spiders, are considered to be insects and are, therefore, loose impediments. A web made by a spider is considered to be a cast made by an insect and is also a loose impediment, even if attached to another object. (New)

MS: This is clearly more than a ruling. It is a total reclassification of the natural world.

23/6 Dead Land Crab
Q. A ball lodges against a dead land crab in a bunker. May the crab be removed without penalty?

A. No. A dead land crab is a natural object and thus a loose impediment and not an obstruction. Removal of the crab would be a breach of Rule 13-4.

MS: What is a dead land crab doing on a golf course? And more importantly, do you have any butter on you?

25/6 Status of Saliva
Q. What is the status of saliva?

A. In equity (Rule 1-4), saliva may be treated as either an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a loose impediment (Rule 23-1), at the option of the player.

MS: The status of saliva is that it is disgusting and meant only for the mastication of food. That is, unless there is the swappage of saliva which should be conducted in the nearest bunker with the flagstick tended and all balls in their sleeve.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

the ugliest swing in televised golf

I had a chance a to catch Charles Barkley on TV at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe a couple of weeks ago. I knew he was a fanatic golfer, getting into serious betting matches with Michael Jordon on the course. So I was completely unprepared for how indescribably ugly his golf game was, despite the announcer's warning right before Barkley teed off "Any viewers who are faint of heart should turn away from the screen now."

I've been a Barkley fan for years. Ever since he used to drag his fat ass up and down the court at The Spectrum in Philly making unexpectedly sprightly plays. And now that he's retired, the way he plays golf only makes me like him more. He is simultaneously humble and arrogant. And you have never heard better self-analysis of someone's own game. What can I say but, dude, I love this guy. The following are some excerpts and priceless quotes by or about Barkley. Even if you can't stand golf, he'll still manage to entertain you.

Barkley on himself:
Q: What do you think when you hear all these other celebrities mocking your golf game? Whenever you ask a celebrity who the worst celebrity golfer is, it's always your name coming up.
A: It doesn't bother me. I can take a joke. That's what wrong with a lot of people these days. Nobody can take a joke anymore. Besides, my game's not good right now. If they make it funny, I'll laugh. What am I going to say, "I don't stink"? I do stink.

Q: What's the state of your game right now?
A: It's not good. It's not good at all. I've retired from golf. It just got too frustrating. I don't play anymore.

Q: So this is sort of a boxer's retirement?
A: It's a don't-hit-no-more-people retirement. I get in those celebrity tournaments and I'm hitting some old lady in the crowd. I'm rich, man. I can't be hitting people. It's a liability issue. Especially with all these white people in the crowd at golf tournaments. I can see the headlines: "Charles Barkley kills white dude with a golf ball." I don't need to be looking for my Al Cowlings. [Fellow TNT studio analyst] Kenny Smith and I aren't that close. Seriously, I hit too many people.

Barkley on Tiger:
"Tiger and I were in Vegas playing golf not so long ago, and he asked if I'd heard about the new super Kmart store being built there," Barkley recalls. "And I said, 'No, where are they gonna build it?' And Tiger said, 'In the space between your ball and mine.' My God, he even beats me talking trash."

Joe Kleine on Barkley:
"We loved playing golf with Charles. The only thing easier than playing golf with Charles is going to the ATM. He’s awful.

We were playing over at Gainey Ranch one time. We had some death match going with Roy Green and Majerle. We’re putting everything out and playing the ball as it lies. His ball was right next to the car path but he’s got a great lie. He and Roy are over there plotting. He said, “I’m not going to take a drop. I’m going to stand on the path and I’m going to hit it.” That’s when they had spikes on the shoes and so he proceeds to start with his back swing and you could just hear (his feet shuffling). It looked like he was moonwalking, making all this noise. It was a par five and he proceeds to smack this ball. He probably hit it 260 yards and it never went higher than three feet off the ground. If somebody would have been standing out there he would have killed them. It was in the air for a long time. After he hits it, the club stops on the way through, and then he goes into his follow through and poses. We just sat there. He’s the worst golfer I’ve ever seen.

The thing that was weird, when I first came to Phoenix he had this really nice swing. It was a normal swing and then he went to Houston. He came back that summer and we were playing golf, and he had that hitch and giddyup and getalong thing. I don’t know who got a hold of him in Houston. My theory is he started teaching himself. It’s painful to watch. He was out there hitting balls on the range and we thought he was joking. Then he went to the first tee and he had the same swing. "

And that swing would be this one... (look away if you're feeling queasy.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


A good friend of mine, whose judgment leaves a lot to be desired, has left me two boxes of heavy weight cotton paper that hold his dissertation, the same one that he's been slaving over for the past couple of years, and one that if I don't file in a timely manner will ruin his career irreparably and probably leave him starving in the streets, him, his wife, and his goddamn adorable children.

I suppose when I accepted the responsibility of filing it for him, I should have mentioned a couple of my more obvious flaws so that he'd have a better idea of what I was capable of... not doing. Like the fact that I have a $280 fine at the university library for overdue books. And the fact that these books have been sitting in the car for about 3 months now but I've yet to manage to carry them across the 50 yards from the parking lot to the return counter. Or perhaps I should have mentioned to him that I haven't been to the dentist since 2001, and only then because my BFF forced me to go out of sheer disgust. It's a wonder that I can get boys to kiss me.

The sad truth is that sometimes it's easier to do stuff for other people than it is for yourself. If only there was such a thing as a dissertation swap meet. Where you could trade writing a whole chapter with someone else for a couple of weeks. Life would be much easier if, for instance, I were writing a paper on the "Statistical anomalies surrounding sasquatch sightings in the great American Northwest".

Well, since I know he reads this, I will consider him now fully disclosed. He better pray that I have a greater likelihood of filing his dissertation than, let's say, rotating my tires. The latter will never happen any time soon.

Just kidding of course. CH, I won't let you down. The check is in the mail. The book is in the depository. The dissertation is... wait, where does it go?

(The photo above is not mine but I love it. The work of Edward Burtynsky.)