March 2010


Dickie V. takes on The Masters. (Image: nathan_malone/Flickr)

As I was driving into work yesterday morning, I heard a brief clip of an interview with Dick Vitale by Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio. Vitale was on the show to discuss The Final Four, but—as he always does—he wandered off on another topic.

I couldn’t find his quotes online, but essentially Vitale said that The Masters and Tiger Woods should be ashamed for scheduling the Woods press conference on the day of the NCAA Championship Game.

The basketball title game would be overshadowed in newspapers the next morning because of Tiger Woods. I’m paraphrasing, but he continued on to say something like, “These kids (the basketball players) deserve better.”

Come on, Dickie V? Really? This is why I’ve never been a fan of Vitale. He says stupid crap on a regular basis. But, more than that, the continuing of theme of people whining about when Tiger Woods schedules his press conferences is really getting stale.

Do we really expect The Masters of all places to say, “Oh, you know what, the NCAA Championship Game is tonight, maybe we should move the Tiger presser to Tuesday so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.” Ridiculous.

This is The Masters we are talking about. They hardly even allow advertising during their tournament. They have the cheapest concession prices in professional sports. They do what they want.

This is the most legendary tournament in golf. And, last I checked, the NCAA doesn’t have any problem with scheduling the game on opening day of baseball. So I don’t think a 30 minute press conference with Tiger Woods—probably saying absolutely nothing of substance—is going to be an issue.

If it were up to guys like Ernie Els and Dick Vitale, Tiger’s press conferences would be at 3 a.m. in his basement. Get over it, guys.

This guy has the classic drive-by honker profile. (Image: seanranier/Flickr)

You know him. You’ve heard him. Perhaps you’ve even seen him rocket past the “road hole” on your golf course—the ghetto horn on his dilapidated truck dissipating as he speeds away with laughter and Toby Keith tunes bellowing from inside his open-aired cab.

He’s The Drive-By Honker. And, his sole purpose in life is to blow his horn in the middle of your backswing. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he exists.

Almost every golf course in America has some sort of road hole. At Cartersville Country Club—my course of choice in my formative years of golfing—holes 6, 7, and 8 ran parallel to a well-traveled road.

The worst spot on the course, however, was the 8th tee box—which was perched up above the road, making golfers sitting ducks for approaching cars. Drive-by honkers had a field day with golfers on this hole. They hated us. We hated them.

The key to overcoming drive-by honkers is to act like they don’t exist. They want nothing more than to see you flick them off or furiously wave your arms as they pass by. At that point, they’ve won.

As a golfer, you’ve got to know your enemy. With The Drive-By Honker, you’ve got to know what you are looking for before he blows his horn of distraction.

Here is what you are looking for. If I worked for the FBI or Homeland Security, I would profile this fellow like so. Drive-By Honkers…

  • Drive trucks—and said truck is usually at least fifteen years old. There’s nothing wrong with old trucks, but they tend to be this guy’s mode of transportation.
  • Are white males aged 16-26.
  • Travel in pairs. He always has a friend—a willing accomplice, a Beavis to his Butthead.
  • Listen to crappy music. Don’t be surprised if you hear a little Nickelback or Blink 182 pumping from his crappy speakers.
  • Think Vin Diesel movies are wicked good.
  • Prefer “woo-hoo!” “yeahhhhh!” and the always-creative-and-contextually-appropriate “fooooore!” as alternate methods of distraction, when the horn on their truck is broken.

One other bonus tip about The Drive-By Honker. Using the above clues, we can surmise that most drive-by honkers are also ex-high school football players—mid twenties—who love to pop out old game tapes whenever two or more people are gathered at their apartment.

So as long as we have golf courses, we will have drive-by honkers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve got to learn to live with them. The good news is this—if you’re on the road hole at your home course and you hear the nauseatingly bland tunes of Nickelback rapidly approaching, you’ll know The Drive-By Honker isn’t far away. Prepare.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

The road ahead will produce random thoughts about swing tempo and running pace. (Image: KmacN/Flickr)

Running for 20 miles gives you a lot of time to think. If you run at my pace, you’ll have three hours, twenty-eight minutes, and forty-one seconds (to be precise) to ponder life’s greatest questions.

On Sunday, I finished my first 20-mile-run in preparation for running a marathon on April 24. As I was slowly jogging up a deceptively steep hill in our neighborhood, one word occurred to me:  tempo.

Tempo is so important in running. If you’re out for a three-and-a-half hour jog, you can’t run your first mile at a nine minute pace when your goal time is a ten minute pace. Not smart.

Halfway up the hill, my mind strangely wandered to my golf swing. Why? I don’t know. Maybe the Kings of Leon song in my ear wasn’t doing it for me at the time. When I swing slower, when I take my foot off the pedal just a little bit, I make better contact with the ball and produce a straighter shot. Tempo.

When you don’t run or swing a golf club with tempo, you produce more effort while getting lackluster results. If I speed out of the gates at my marathon, I might feel good about myself for 10 or 11 miles, but by the time mile 20 rolls around, I will be hurting.

Golf taught me something else about running. I played nine holes at The Legislature—one of Robert Trent Jones’ Capitol Hill courses in Montgomery—on Saturday morning. Three holes were underwater or my brother-in-law and I would’ve played the back nine. Anyway, I shot a 36—which brings me to my second point. Expectations.

I’ve always played golf relatively well when I didn’t expect a good score. Saturday was the first time I have swung a club in four or five months. I didn’t expect to play well, but somehow I managed two birdies, an even par nine holes, and seven greens in regulation (with five makeable birdie putts).

When I play in tournaments, when I actually expect to do well, my scores tend to suffer. The psychology of golf is maddening.

And that’s why I’ve enjoyed running. I’ve never been a runner. I never thought I would be a runner. But somehow in less than 10 months, I’ve gone from feeling totally zapped from running half a mile to running 20 miles in one afternoon. Expectations.

I don’t expect to run three-hour marathons. I don’t expect to win races. I’m simply out there having fun and challenging myself.

So golf has taught me a thing or two about running. Or maybe it’s a vice versa? Whatever the case may be, I’ve learned to take a deep breath (literally), slow it down, and enjoy the moment—or the four hours of running.

Word is that Derek Jeter has a pretty good game. (Image: espn1040tampabay/Flickr)

Spring is in the air.

It’s been a brutal winter here in Nashville, so I have to admit that, though I love winter, I welcome the warm temperatures.

With the 60 degree temps comes familiar spring sounds: the “tink” of the driver and the “pop” of the glove. The Masters is right around the corner, and Spring Training is well underway. I love it!

So the cool folks over at the Golf Magazine website have a pretty groovy feature. The popularity of golf is down until Tiger returns, so why not take advantage of baseball’s popularity?

They have a huge section of great content that compares many aspects of golf and baseball:  the swings, pro golfers that love baseball, pro baseball players that love golf, great courses in Spring Training cities, and all kinds of other swell stuff. And they are not even paying me to say this! So you know it’s pretty cool.

If you’re like me and you love golf AND baseball, then check it out here.

If you see one of these devices, run!

What is it called?

You’ve seen it: the long skinny rod with the three-pronged or circular attachment on the end. It sticks out of some golfers’ golf bags like an awkward 13-year-old at a middle school dance.

I call this device the “golf ball picker upper,” but it could probably be better known as the “six hour round of golf detector.”

When you see one of these strange machinations in a playing partner’s bag, then you only need to do one thing: run! Run like the wind. Run like Usain Bolt being chased by a cheetah. Run.

The man who owns this device is the Golf Ball Finder Guy—and he has one mission on the golf course: finding golf balls. Whether it’s a beaten up and bruised Titleist Balata, circa 1995, a brand new Pro V1, or a Top Flite XL with the Dingleberry Family Reunion logo on its side, the Golf Ball Finder Guy loves to search for golf balls.

Behind a tree? He’ll find it. Plugged into a muddy bank? He’ll find it. In a yard? He’ll find it. In a groundhog’s hole? He’ll find it. In fact, the only ball the Golf Ball Finder Guy doesn’t care about is the one he is currently playing. He treats every lost golf ball as if he is an archeologist digging for a Mayan relic.

Pace of play? Score? Camaraderie? All of these things are nuisances to the Golf Ball Finder Guy. You’re on the green, waiting. He’s somewhere in the shrubs adjacent to the fairway, giddy about finding the Titleist DT 90 with the AT&T logo.

He will ruin your score, your patience, and your reputation—once everyone at your course or club realizes you were in the group that played a six hour round and had the crazy guy who was always in the woods.

So, next time you see this guy on the first tee—just run. Don’t wait around. Don’t ask questions. Don’t hesitate.

Run and never look back.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer