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Ready Golf & The Point Man
The sad consequence of our playing partner leaving the group got even sadder when his brute of a brother-in-law took his place. That's when our happy little foursome went into a tailspin. Not to be unkind, but you wouldn't want to be caught in a confined space with this hulking descendant of Man - he could suck the oxygen right out of a clubhouse.
Big, burly, boisterous as he was, he also had a repertoire of rude habits; these he introduced on the front nine of our very first round with him. The most annoying was a tendency to play out of turn, in a tainted form he defended as "ready golf." We dubbed him Point Man because of his curious way of charging ahead of the group, an irritating, in-your-face distraction - in effect, a "live hazard" for us to deal with.
At times Point Man's odd habit of play would take him out of bounds, way off into uncharted provinces. Like some primal animal on a scent, he would chase after shots into hilly, wooded areas left, then right of the fairways. Just as we might despair (or hope) of ever seeing him again, he would come bounding back onto the course like a big, scruffy canine. Or maybe he'd suddenly reappear ahead of us, right in front of the green. There, continuing his ready golf, he would conduct a furious chipping exhibition with himself, beating the ball from one spot off the green to another. We, in a weird time warp, were stop-action witnesses to this tennis-volley back and forth, as he would lope across the green to take his next mean miss-hit. Eventually, his ball would surrender somewhere around the flag. The three of us, standing there with our mouths agape, dumb with disbelief, watching the surreal show, finally could resume play and take our turns around the green.
You could say he was a fellow who let it all hang out, tiresome as it was for us. You could almost excuse his bad habits - almost but not quite. And always, his shenanigans reduced our pace of play to an agonizing slow motion, like taking a nature walk with a set of golf clubs.
As it turned out, we had to be ever vigilant against Point Man's truly definitive, infuriating trait. He could commandeer an entire round with his "expansive" behavior and "dynamic" personality. Inevitably, we had to take a firm stand; he was hijacking our rounds. The entire season of play was in jeopardy. We resolved to take control of our game again. Of course, there was the troubling fact that Point Man easily outweighed us by a good 100 pounds. Two of us could probably each hang some chin-ups on his extended upper arms without touching the ground.
We had a good idea where this was heading. Golf purports to be a civilized game. Care, tact, rules, diplomacy - things you just pick up - presume to rescue this gentleman's game from bad behavior. Clearly, we reasoned, the situation required the utmost finesse, which is why we decided it would be better to do nothing.
Why put up with such a thug? Well, fortunately, we didn't have to for long because he moved on to another state, point man to another set of anxious partners. A good thing, too, because - in spite of his great mass and our timidity - we were starting to use him as a human target.
Many people believe that golf builds character; some of us believe the game just as easily destroys it.
Duff Rounds writes frequently about the game of golf; perhaps his pieces have wider social and philosophical implications . . . though what these are, he has no idea.