Tag Archives: golf

Forget everything you know about golf

“Forget everything you know about golf,” Mitch told me at the beginning of the one-hour golf-with-a-pro golf lesson I won for free when I dropped my business card into a bowl of business cards at the Kia dealer a few months ago.


“What?” I had to ask the person on the other end of the phone when they called me up to let me know that my name had been chosen as the winner. I didn’t even wind up buying a Kia. And that was a real challenge, walking out of that showroom empty handed. Those guys were out for blood. One of the salesmen was actually walking down the street with me for a few blocks, still convinced that if he could only find that magical combination of words and discounted interior upgrades, that I’d reconsider, I’d turn around and sign my name on that dotted line that was in front of my face even before I’d selected which model would have made for a cool test drive.

“That’s right, you’re the lucky winner of the  Kip’s Bay Kia Golf Giveaway!” And yeah, it’s nice to win something, especially something that you weren’t expecting. I was at work, my phone rang, and the last thing I could have imagined was that I’d win an hour of private golf lessons with Mitch … what was his last name? I can’t remember. He was definitely a pro though. He showed me his pro card before even shaking my hand.

And that was the first thing he said to me, “Forget everything you know about golf.” And I looked at him and said, “Done.” And then I closed my eyes and made an expression like there was something rattling around in my head, and then I opened my eyes and went, “Ding! Golf memories: erased.”

He didn’t laugh, which, I don’t know what to say. I thought that was pretty funny, considering it was totally on the spot. Like I had no idea he was going to tell me to forget everything I knew about golf. And I’m pretty good with jokes, you know, not like a professional comedian or anything, but whatever, mildly funny, that’s probably a fair description. And this was so beyond my regular mild humor, I tried to match his stone cold gaze, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“You done?” he said after a really awkward twenty or thirty seconds.

“Yeah, I’m good, sorry Mitch.”

“All right, well, we’d better get started. Did you leave your clubs in the car?”
“No, I don’t have a car.”

“You didn’t bring clubs?”

“Clubs? I told you I won this, right? At the Kia dealership?”

“But I just thought you said that you don’t have a car.”

“Right, yeah, I just took the subway.”

“So then how did you win this lesson at a Kia dealership?”

“Well, I thought about buying a car, but I didn’t do any research, and you know how the salespeople get you, they sit you down at that desk and start writing numbers down, I knew I was way …”

“All right, OK. How about, I’ll just get one of the loaner clubs from the driving range and we’ll give you like three buckets of balls.”

“And then what?”

“What you mean and then what?”

“What are these balls you’re talking about? Driving range? None of these words make any sense.”

And he looked at me for a second, and then I started laughing again, which, I really wanted to see how long I could keep a straight face this time.

“Mitch, remember? You told me to forget everything I knew about golf?”

And I was smiling and, for a minute, I thought Mitch was going to break, like I’d gotten through to him, like he was going to start laughing any second. But he just looked at me and said, “You’ve got something wrong with you, asshole.”

So he walked away and I didn’t even get those three free buckets of balls. And now Kia won’t stop calling me either, they’re like, “How was the golf lesson? Any thoughts about buying a Kia? Do you want to come down to the showroom and talk about financing? Rob, come on, tell me what I’ve got to do to get you in this Kia. Rob, help me help you buy a Kia. Rob, you’ve got to buy this Kia.” Over and over again, I’m at the point where I’m thinking about getting a new cell phone. But the last time I went to the T-Mobile store I also never bought a phone, and weirdly enough, while I was there I also won a prize, a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to the Sports Authority. That was like four months ago, and those guys just finally stopped calling me. “Hey Rob, how was that gift card? You thinking about coming down and buying a Samsung Galaxy smartphone? We’ve got some great deals on refurbished models that I think you’ll be interested in. Come on down and talk it out. Tell me what I’ve got to do to get one of those smartphones in your hands.”

Fun facts about golf

Did you know that golf balls are filled with acid? That’s why they’re so bouncy. You ever try bouncing a golf ball on your driveway, on a paved surface? You don’t expect it to bounce so high, because it’s hard, it’s like a rock, like try throwing a rock on your driveway, nothing, just a loud smack. But golf balls bounce, because they’re filled with acid.

ancient golf

You ever see a golf ball cut in half? Never. You hit them over and over again with your golf clubs and nothing, no cracks, those things are going to outlast all of us. But say you’re getting curious, say you cut one open with a saw or a sharp blade. Don’t do it, I’m just saying, say you tried it out. All of that acid would come pouring out, it would dissolve the whole golf ball from the outside in. That’s why you never see any broken balls lying around, because they automatically self-destruct.

You don’t ever think to yourself, how do they get the acid inside the golf ball? Like, take a golf ball and take a good, close look. Don’t worry, that acid is safe behind the hard surface. Look even closer. Do you see any seams? Nothing. It’s totally solid, like how did they get that acid inside in the first place?

Sure it’s not a big deal to imagine some sort of modern technology making that happen. I’m just throwing ideas around, but maybe they suspend the acid in some sort of a magnetic field, and then they form the shell in a liquid state outside of it, and then the whole thing is flash frozen – ZAP – presto, golf ball. Fine.

But what about in the early ages of golf? You know that golf was invented over two hundred years ago, right? Talk about crazy, I can’t imagine playing even nine holes right now, with a cart, with an unlimited supply of balls. It’s too hard. Those ancient Scottish golfers, one of them was talking to his friend, he’s like, “Hey man, I’ve got a great idea, we’ll make a really small ball and whack it with some sticks across fields, ultimately trying to get it into a little hole in as few whacks as possible.”

And the other golfer was like, “You know what? That actually sounds kind of fun. Here, let me try.” But I don’t know about you, but my first time holding a golf club, teeing up at the driving range, I’d never swung at a ball before, it was a disaster. The ball went up and to the left and didn’t even make it out of the box I was standing in.

The first time I teed off from an actual course wasn’t any better. Ninety percent of my shots went straight into the woods, which, I’m guessing in ancient Scotland, that golfer would have been like, “Oh well, I seemed to have lost that ball, sorry. Can I try again? Practice makes perfect.”

But how? Try again with what? Another ball? Where did that first golfer get that ball in the first place? Are you telling me that these guys two hundred years ago had access to acid machines or whatever is that they use to make golf balls? Or lawn mowers? How were they keeping the greens short enough to putt on?

What I’m getting at is that none of it makes any sense. Golf is wildly popular now, yes, but the idea that golf ever made it past the drawing board stage seems highly unlikely, impossible even. I mean, sure, there wasn’t any Internet or anything, and so, I don’t know, what were they all doing out there, shepherding? Herding animals? I guess that could have been boring enough to the point where hitting a ball hundreds of yards in the opposite direction might have seemed like a slightly more entertaining activity than standing around doing nothing.

But how did they get access to the acid? And I haven’t even brought up the clubs. Do you know that the heads of the woods are actually hollowed out and filled with nitrogen? It’s something about evening out the hitting surface. I don’t understand it. I don’t claim to understand it. So how did these Scottish guys figure it out hundreds of years ago? It doesn’t make any sense. What am I not getting here?

Go ahead and try not to laugh

I love it when I make a bad joke but somebody laughs anyway. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and you don’t enjoy your meal at all, but you don’t say anything, because that’s not something that you normally do, but the waiter can totally tell, he can see just by the look on your face, he knows because he knows the menu, and he knew that you probably shouldn’t have ordered that dish in the first place, but he didn’t object, and why would he? It’s not in his job description to discourage people from ordering food. But still, he feels bad, and he wants a tip, so he knocks it off the bill. The food sucked, but you still ate, so you’re not hungry anymore, and it was free.

All the time I’m thinking of stupid jokes to say, especially when I’m around other people, but a lot of the time I get so excited by the idea of me telling a joke or trying to be funny that I’ll start laughing to myself even before I’ve opened my mouth. It’s terrible, because I’ve drawn attention to myself. And I’ll calm myself down to the point where I think I can give it another try, but usually, especially if it’s a really funny joke, maybe twenty-five percent of the way through I’ll start laughing again. At this point I have no choice but to try to finish, so I press on, and somebody else will eventually start laughing, and they’ll say, “Rob, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.” And that’s kind of like that free meal. I was looking for a laugh and I got one.

Or sometimes I’ll just fire off joke after joke, none of them funny at all, and finally after like the sixth or seventh try, somebody will laugh. And it won’t be a fake laugh, either. It’ll be like a, “I can’t believe he’s still talking, still making bad jokes,” kind of laugh. Which I’ll still take. It’s even better if I’m laughing to myself throughout all of these bad jokes, because then I’m not just getting laughs for telling bad jokes, but it’s more of a performance, a funny little show that I’m imagining I’m putting on for everybody else.

It’s kind of like this one time when I went golfing with my friends and after the third hole it started to rain. So we went back to the clubhouse and the guy gave us most of our money back. And then we sat at the clubhouse bar and drank beer for like three hours. It wasn’t exactly what we were going for, but we still had a great time.

Would you believe me if I told you that one time I golfed a hole-in-one? Of course you wouldn’t. And it didn’t happen. But imagine you were golfing with me and I was loudly insisting on shooting a hole-in-one all day. The first joke you’d probably try to ignore, maybe give me a polite smile. The second time you’d think to yourself that I can’t be serious, that I maybe I should just give it a rest. But halfway through the course I’d just find more and more blatant ways to throw them in there. You’d eventually cave. You’d have to laugh. We’d drive up to the green and I’d say, “Hey, did anybody see where my ball went?” and everyone would pretend not to pay attention. And then I’d move closer to the green and start saying stuff like, “No. It can’t be. I don’t believe it. Guys!” and then I’d rush over to the hole and I’d bend down and I’d slip my hand in my pocket to take out a ball and I’d put my hand in the hole, pretending to pull it out, and I’d look around to everyone else with a face of mock surprise. But I’d have a stupid smirk on my face the whole time, so clearly full of shit, and everyone else would be trying not to laugh, because I’d already done the same exact joke on every single hole, and nobody thought it was funny the third or fourth time, so why laugh now? But eventually someone would laugh. We’d be riding from one hole to the next and I’d make a big deal out of taking out the scorecard, asking everybody how they shot, and then finally saying, “And Rob … one.” And I’d mark down a big number one, every hole a number one. And I’d say something like, “Wow, I’m really golfing well today. I hope I can keep it up.” But I’d probably start laughing in between those sentences, and I’d have been drinking, so my laughter would be just out of control, just way too hard.

But like I said, someone would break and eventually start to laugh, if even just in admiration of how far I’ll see through a joke. It’s kind of like when you go to a bakery and order a cupcake and right before you take the last bite you find a big roach baked right in there, and it’s not even a whole roach, it’s just the end part, with little bite marks and everything, but you’ve been eating too fast, so there’s nothing to spit out, because you just thought that crunchy part was like coconut or something, so you complain to the clerk and he gives you your money back, and he throws in a free cupcake, and so you think it’s not all that bad, because you got two free cupcakes, but as you’re eating the second cupcake, you find the same thing, another roach, and you’ve already eaten the majority of this one also, and so you complain again, and the clerk gives you a free dozen, and then you take the dozen back home, and your mom or your wife or whoever you happen to live with goes, “Cupcakes? What’s the occasion?” And you say something like, “Oh, you know. Just wanted to do something nice for you.” And that person goes, “That’s so sweet!”

And it is sweet, because you didn’t have to spend a cent. But then when that other person takes a bite you start laughing really hard, because you’re thinking about how funny the whole situation is, and you’re trying not to laugh, but you’re practically choking because you’re laughing so hard, and so you have to say something, anything, so you try to explain that hole-in-one joke, but that makes you laugh even harder, and now this other person is just staring at you like you’re crazy, and so you just say something like, “You had to be there. Another cupcake? Eat up!”