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