Golf season is in full swing (no pun intended). The golf clubs came out of the basement, and so did my bag of excuses. I realized this the first time we went out this year. “I’m out of practice,” I said in all seriousness, while my partners gave me that knowing look. I could shrug it off, though, because I’ve said many times that the first nine are practice.
The whole excuse thing first came to light a couple of years ago when my friend picked me up for a round of golf. As soon as I got in the car I told him that I hadn’t slept well the night before. To which he responded, “Are you making excuses already? We’re not even on the course yet.” This from a man who swears he can’t play well without his Chi Chi Rodriguez bracelet.
The fact is excuses are comforting. It doesn’t matter if you really are having a bad day or you’re just not that good. The gracious player will accept your excuses at face value.
Being magnanimous by nature, I’d thought I’d share them with you. You’re welcome to use any or all of them as you see fit.
First, the obvious excuse is to blame outside sources: It’s too hot/cold, windy/still, noisy/quiet. Play is too rushed/slow. It was the sun/shade. The grass is too high/low. The greens are wet/dry. But these get lame fast, so you’ll need to move on to some more advanced excuses.
The second set of excuses is your state of well-being: I’m hungry/I’m full. I can’t concentrate/I’m trying too hard. I’m horny/I’m spent. It doesn’t matter, all excuses are essentailly the same. Included in this category are the physical ailments: my knee/shoulder/wrist/back/ankle injury is acting up. Muscle soreness also counts here. Especially if it’s because you just bench-pressed 350/painted your house/put a new deck on all by yourself/ picked up a car to save a family of four. Remember, the quality of your excuse reflects your respect for the game.
The third area of blame is your golf technique. Warning: sometimes these will invite constructive criticism, so use them only when you’re in the mood for a barrage of “helpful” golf tips. This list includes: I hit behind it/topped it. Hit it with the heel/toe. I didn’t expect that fade/draw. (Unless you have one that starts to arc and then comes back. Then you can say, “Ah, the banana,” like you planned it.) The old stand-by of ‘I used the wrong club’ works well as long as you wistfully look at the number on the club while you’re saying it. When you’re on the green the basic too much/not enough can probably go unsaid. I like missing the hole and saying, “I read that wrong.” Also, “I didn’t expect that to happen’ is a nice catch-all in most situations. The bottom of the barrel phrase, used when there is no excuse, is to simply say “Wow” in a tone that implies that you’re entrusting your partner with a secret.
Which brings us to a variation of the flat-out excuse, the catchy phrase. Among my favorites are ‘that was an unfortunate bounce’ and ‘my ball met a watery grave”. Don’t forget to say things like “This hole is visually difficult,” any time you see trees, water, or sand.
Please don’t use the phrase par-for-the-course. Come on, if I was playing par golf I’d be looking into a career on the LPGA tour. Another one I dislike is when the ball hits the green about 20 feet from the hole and my partner yells, “In the hooole!” I mean, what parallel universe are you living on where that shot could make it in? But still, one of my favorite jokes comes when tending the pin. You probably know it. When the ball is clearly not going to make it in you bend the pin as if, by will, the two will meet. I know, an oldie but a goodie.
It comes down to this- golf is all in the attitude. So what if you hack it up once in a while? As long as you’re having fun that’s all that matters. As the old saying goes, “A bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at the office.”