Ostomy Memories of Golf


MY WIFE’S TASTE IN MEN did not please my father-in-law. He got revenge by teaching me how to play golf. We would drive a little north of Tallahassee to a town called Havana, pronounced Hay-van-ah by the primitive locals. There was a nine-hole course there and he let me use some of his extra clubs. Once in a while we’d drive a little further and play on an equally nondescript golf course. I finally broke 100, ironically on a course with very narrow fairways.
“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” said Mark Twain. Eventually, I came to believe it ought to be at least a misdemeanor. To play the game, one holds onto a grip at the top of a shaft and swings the club so as to strike a little round ball with a small, variously angled head of either iron or wood. This causes the ball to fly off down the golf course. One usually plays with a partner or group so that someone else can watch your ball in flight and tell you which clump of trees or rough it landed in.
When I was living in central Florida, I got involved in a matter that required some travel. My companion and I would throw our golf clubs into the trunk and after completing our work, look for a course to play a round of golf on the way home. We were equally inept golfers, though I managed to slough off the frustrations of the game better than he did. He would pound his club against a tree on occasion. Once he threw a perfectly good iron into a ravine next to the rough from which he was having difficulty extracting his ball.
Eventually, my golfing ability peaked at a point where I realized that, in order to minimize the extent of my frustrations with the sport, I would have to play at least three times a week. The cost in time and money was too much so I called it quits. Despite the pronouncement of Chi Chi Rodriguez that “golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off,” I prefer to think that commendation ought to be reserved for telling lawyer jokes.


Hello HenryM.
Thank you for what seems to be a realistic insight into the game of golf.

I will not pretend to know anything about the game of golf, except that when I was a child, the local park-keeper used to encourage us to use his ‘putting-green’ with some well-worn words of wisdom he used to quote: “Lads!” he would say “There is no point in taking up golf until you can get that little ball into the hole on the putting green.”
Of course, he knew full-well that none of us would ever be able to afford taking up golf and we rarely ever had enough money to hire his putting sticks.

However, not to be outdone, we invented our own game, which was equivalent to the game of golf, but was monetarily ‘free’ and probably required a great deal more skill.
It involved whittling down both ends of a round piece of wood approximately five inches long and an inch and a half diameter, to make it pointed at both ends. (much like a small ‘shuttle’ used in weaving) We then had to find a suitable ‘stick’ from the local woods, which vaguely resembled a golf club, in that it was a similar length but with a burr or the stump of a branch at one end.
The ‘game’ involved hitting the pointed end of the short/pointed piece of wood in just the right place, so that it flew up into the air in such a position whereby we could whack it as hard as we could towards a predetermined ‘target’, approximately 20-30 yards away.

Now, this game, (as with many other of our games) had several elements to it that other people’s games omitted.
The first element was that players had to make their own stick and ‘shuttle’.
There was a subtle ‘skill’ in choosing the most appropriate wood for both the stick and the ‘shuttle’ because they were both being used for differing purposes. There was also the ‘knowledge’ needed to find the materials and ‘harvest’ them without getting caught by whoever owned and managed the woods. Physically making the devices, with only a knife as a tool was obviously a separate skill, as was the careful design of the ‘shuttle’ so that the aerodynamics worked for both the take-off and the subsequent propulsion.
The second element involved the skill in hitting the ‘shuttle’ in precisely the right place for it to fly vertically in the air to shoulder height. This element was probably the most tricky skill to master and it sometimes took months before would-be players reached a sufficient skill to ask if they could be included in the competitive ‘game’.
The third phase was to hit the ‘shuttle’ as hard as possible towards the target and the one that landed closest was the ‘winner’ of that round and scored a point.
The fourth element (That also featured in most of the games we played) was the gambling. Whoever won the overall game took all the stake/prize money.

I don’t know if the rest of the world realise this, but the English (in the form of their aristocracy and rulers) have been a traditionally ‘sneaky’ nation in most of its ‘game-playing’. Their approach was to ‘invent’, develop and play their new ‘games’ amongst themselves, long before other people decided they wanted to join in. This way, the English nearly always ‘won’ in the early years of game –dissemination.
That strategy was okay, until the other people/nations started to become proficient and beating us. The simple response to this embarrassing situation was to ‘invent’ other (different) games, so that we could once again show our prowess at ‘winning’.

One of the important ‘lessons’ that I learned from those early days of game-playing, was that ‘competition’ has an inherent element of ‘bullying’. Those who are ‘competitive’ have an inbuilt desire to make someone else ‘lose’. Some people/organisations take this to extremes and will often resort to forms of ‘cheating’ in a variety of different ways, so that the outcome will benefit themselves.
It came to pass that I came to dislike this aspect of human behaviour and vowed to opt out of competitive activities (with other people) altogether.
I do, however, wholeheartedly embrace the concept of doing one’s ‘Personal Best’(PB) and think that the outcome of competitions could/should be based on this concept, rather than first past the post.

I hope you like the rhyme:
Best wishes


Winners always think they’ve won
when once the game they play is done.
For them the secret of success
must be to win and to impress.

It is their focus and their aim
to be the winner in their game.
These people are not altruists
for them, no other game exists.

I understand this sentiment
but find it an impediment.
For winning means that someone’s lost
and therein lays the hidden cost.

For me there is a subtle charm
to live my life and do no harm.
So why would I put someone down
or be the cause of someone’s frown.

There is a certain satisfaction
that can flow from selfless action.
So, I have made a specialty
of losing games with subtlety.

When people start to play a game
they think opponents play the same.
They will assume ‘all’ want to win
within their game or discipline.

But I don’t want to win at all
for that might make another small.
So, if I am obliged to play
I contribute a different way.

I make out that I play real hard.
but it’s really a charade.
My aims within the games I choose
is eventually to lose.

                                            B. Withers 2012
                                       (in A Rhyming Cookbook)

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Hey Henry and Bill.

I play golf every now and then, when I can't get out of it – like the group needing the last member. This is when I don't mind being picked last. No one takes me seriously.

I carry my own brightly spray-painted balls so I can find them after. I took lessons once, but being a fastball player in my younger days, just screwed up the swing. Plus, even though I am right-handed, I bat and golf left-handed. Go figure. Handy hint: I also carried extra balls so if looking for them proved fruitless, I just put another one where I thought it should be.

Ahh - another slice of the good life. Just, K..


Yeah, I never got the whole "golf as a game" thing. To me, my time was too valuable to pay to walk on someone's lawn swatting a little ball around. When I was a kid, my grandfather would go golfing on the weekend, but I always found an excuse not to go. It just seemed like such a waste of time that could be put to much better use... like riding my dirt bike or playing football with the guys on the church lawn... so I never went. In junior high, we had some golf instruction as part of Physical Education, but every time the teacher turned his back, we used the clubs as swords and fought to the death. Then later, when I had a job and money was tight, there was no way I'd waste it on what seemed like the stupidest "sport" to me. Except for a round of Put-Put with a hottie on date night... but that was for a whole different purpose.




How funny... my standard first date in high school (I'd forgotten) was taking the girl to play miniature golf.  Good practice using the ol' putter.

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