GIMME A BREAK

Ken Hoffman on the worst part of golf, and why he's never playing again

Ken Hoffman has played his last round of golf due to one infuriating tradition. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas Las Colinas

Originally appeared on CultureMap

 

I was on vacation last week and, well, that’s the last time I’m ever playing golf.

It’s not that big a deal, chances were pretty good I was never playing golf again anyway.

Somewhere around the fifth hole last week, it all came back to me. Golf takes too long. Too expensive. I have to drive a half-hour to get there. The shoes. The waiting on every hole. The it’s not really exercise. Looking for lost balls.

This time something new made me crazy.

I was playing with two guys who happened to be pretty decent players. They were shooting mostly pars and bogeys.

According to their scorecards, that is. 

Every time they knocked the ball to within four or five feet of the cup...they picked it up.

“Put me down for a par.”

Finally, I just asked, in an annoying, lecturing sort of way (it’s a gift I have), why are you picking up your ball instead of putting it into the hole?

It’s a “gimme,” they said.  “That’s how golf is played.”

It is? Why? I watch golf on TV. I’ve seen pro players miss putts shorter than what you’re picking up.

I’ve heard all the excuses for gimmes in golf — No. 1 being it speeds up play.

Exactly how much time do gimmes really save? Maybe 15 seconds? If they’re so easy, finish the hole. I’ll wait.

I don’t believe that gimmes are gimmes, especially for everyday weekend players. A 4-foot putt can be tricky business. Don’t tell me you shot 82 if you picked up 15 putts during the round. Not when Ernie Els misses putts that you supposedly never miss. 

Why wouldn’t a golfer want to complete the action of putting the ball in the cup? You do all that work of getting the ball close — and then you pick it up? Where’s the fun in that?

In what other sport do players stop short of completing the action? If LeBron goes into for an uncontested dunk, does he pull up before reaching the hoop and say, “It’s a gimme. Put me down for two points.”

LeBron James misses dunks. Again, YouTube it.

If Roger Federer is at the net for an easy overhead smash, does he let the ball drop and say, “Put me down for 15-love?”

Roger Federer misses easy shots.

Baseball players have to touch all the bases after hitting a home run. It’s the natural rhythm of sports.

You’ve got to close the deal. That’s why we keep score. In everything. If I’m having dinner with someone and we both order the fish...I check who got a bigger piece. That’s who won.

The two guys I played golf with picked up the ball on practically every hole. They said, “It’s a social game, a gentleman’s game, we’re being friendly.”

Then why are you keeping score? “There is no way that you would have made every putt you picked up as a gimme.”

At that point I was a barbarian. “Sorry if I offended you,” one of them said. “I was just trying to move us along faster.”

Don’t give me that. There’s no one behind us. Take your time.

You know something, never mind. Go ahead, pick up your ball. It’s a gimme that I’m done with golf.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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