I was putting the golf bag in the back of the van last week when two senior golfers were bellowing back and forth in the parking lot. One of them shouted out to his buddy, “Do you know why they called this game ‘golf’?” The friend responded, “No, why?” The buddy informed him, “Because all of the other four letter words were already taken!”

Yes, golf is certainly that kind of game. I know lots of couples (man and wife) who play together. Kim and I do not. She has never expressed a desire and I am not sure it would be a good idea. Being married to me for almost 20 years she has seen me at my worst. I don’t really want her to find out my worst could possibly be even worse. On an average round of golf you will be personally tested in the arenas of integrity, honesty, credibility and character. Testing these things in open view of the public seems at best a very poor voluntary personal decision.

I have played almost every game, sport and competitive activity one can play. When I took up the sport of golf I almost laughed to myself thinking, “How hard can it be? The ball is not thrown, kicked, or hit at you. It just kind of sits there real still like and you get to practice two or three times before you swing at it. It’s actually in the rules.” Other than thinking someday I would figure out how women think that was possibly one of my most naive philosophies about anything, ever!

I took the game up late in life for a real golfer, I was in my 30s before I actually seriously tried to play. Fifty is considered past your prime in golf and boy does this year prove that theory right. I now qualify for the Champions Tour (read that Senior’s Tour). That’s another one of those things that is never going to happen.

The best example I can give of what this game does to a person involves an old co-worker. Let’s call him Tim, okay that is actually his real name. He was one of those quiet office types that was always polite and a gentleman. I had never heard him raise his voice and certainly had never in my presence uttered a profane word or phrase. One day I organized a few people to take a day off and enjoy the serene beauty of a golf course.

Quiet, polite little Timmy was in a foursome a few holes ahead of my group. After nine holes some of the guys had to leave (I think some had to be home by the end of a normal working day — those men are referred to in golf circles as “newlyweds”) which meant some mergers would have to take place to make for foursomes playing the back nine. Eventually I worked my way up to Tim’s foursome who had lost one guy and needed me to complete the group.

As I approached, I heard a familiar voice in a very unfamiliar mode. It was polite, quiet little Timmy who was always so pleasant in the work place. He was loudly discussing the game of golf with his ball and club using terminology that would make a longshoreman blush. It seems that the ball’s family tree included some unmarried people with kids and another word flying around started with, as they use to say on Sesame Street, the letter F. For the unimaginative let’s just say it contained the same vowel sound as the word fudge. I inquired of one of the day long members of the foursome and they responded, “Tim has been like this all day. You should of seen him when he lost his seven iron in the pond! If I were you I wouldn’t mention that to him, he is still a little bit upset about that.”

Anyone who knows me should understand that kind of ammunition doesn’t come along every day among a group of golfing buddies. As we approached the next hole, a short Par 3, I was all set to strike the ball when I hesitated, backed away and turned to Tim who had just quieted down and was minding his own business. “Timmy,” I inquired, Can I borrow your seven iron?” I know now as I knew then that it wasn’t right. Tim went into another brief tirade which included some vile insinuations involving immoral acts with my mother.

Yes, golf is a gentleman’s game but it is not always played by gentle men. Every since that day when I get frustrated with a shot or usually a series of errant shots, I try to shout out, “Golf!” Unfortunately, sometimes as an involuntary, reflexive response, another four letter word will often slip out (upon occasion even some poly syllabic phrases). I’m not nearly as quiet and polite around the office as Timmy!

Lindon Dodd is an Otisco resident and can be reached at lindondodd@hotmail.com. His column appears on Sunday.

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