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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: July 1, 2021

Golf

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,




**********

Weekends tend to be busy now that we are reveling in the comparative freedom of being vaccinated. Sometimes by Sunday afternoon I need to â€set a spell†with a cup of tea, and when I do I usually turn on the TV for 30 minutes and â€sort of watch†whatever sport is on. On a recent day, that was a major golf tournament.

I don't play golf. Mike and I have played a few rounds, and I like a game of putt-putt now and then. But it never grabbed me like some other sports did. That said, it's still fun to watch the experts in a high pressure situation excel, or suffer the agony of blowing a putt that I probably could make on a good day.

But as I watched this competition, which came down to a single stroke victory on the last hole, I started thinking about some of the peculiarities of this old game. The first thing that caught my attention was the golfer in the lead, a good-sized fellow, whipping out a little notebook and a pencil from his back pocket and make a scoring notation. In this day and age, when devices track our steps, our weight, our number of reps of any exercise or even pace us on a yoga practice, how strange to see paper and pencil technology at work at the highest level of a sport. If I was in a high stakes golf game the last thing I'd like is a notebook jammed in my back pocket. I can picture a phone program with a GPS map of the course with each golfer's drives and putts graphically plotted, along with exact distance and height, recorded for posterity. But right now, I imagine electronic devices of any kind are banned, and in a sport where change is ponderous, anything like that will probably be far in the future.

The TV announcers for golf speak in hushed tones, as if the golfers might be disturbed by their on the air chatter. Many have British accents and are prone to bland statements like â€he has made a good strike on that ball.†It takes a lot to get any emotion from them, and I contrast that with my favorite baseball announcer, Bob Uecker, and good old Larry McCarren for the Packers, giving full vent to their emotions. I realize national announcers can't take sides but wow, sometimes I wonder if they have any emotions at all. And over this a soundtrack of incessant bird chatter. That's just kind of weird. I can't think of any other sport that does anything similar. What is the history of that, I wonder? I am sure the huge crowd has driven all the real birds into hiding, but what is the connection between the bird sounds and the game?

Golfers are accompanied by a â€caddy,†who is a sort of helper. In big tournaments they wear white coveralls like hazardous waste cleanup crews. Why white? I understand marking them as â€non-participants,†but why complete coveralls? If I was in charge the caddies would wear similar clothing to their golfer, sort of like racehorses and their jockeys wear the same color. Or they could all wear white ball caps with â€C†on the front and back.

Golfers wear neat collared sport shirts with golfing pants. Some wear wild plaid pants which really make them stand out. Or look silly, depending on your perspective. (None of the men in my â€heart circle†would be caught dead in plaid pants anywhere, period.) Never shorts for men although women seem to have a bit more clothing flexibility. They are expected to comport themselves like gentlemen (or women,) although if you can lip read, there are slipups. I know I saw at least one ugly four letter expletive during this match. â€Oh, he's disappointed with that,†the announcer said in a hushed tone. No kidding, I thought. â€Tweet, tweet,†said the birds.

On course spectators watching tee-off can't see where the ball lands most of the time. I'd find that frustrating. Golf is one of the sports where I think watching it on TV is better than being there in person. It would be like sitting in the stands watching the Brewers. You'd see the batter make a mighty swing and hear the crack of the bat, but have no idea where the ball went. Does that sound like fun? Although I suppose these days all the golf spectators have their cell phones tuned to live stream and can follow along better by looking down at their devices than trying to sort it out from their spot on the course.

Lots of the majors are played in truly lovely locations. I'd appreciate it if I could walk the course alone and just sightsee. It pays to remember that little of what you see on a televised tournament golf course is totally natural, similar to the fake â€birds†you hear chirping on TV. I occasionally visited the community of Augusta, GA where the Masters is held, and enjoyed the tales of Azalea bushes packed in ice to delay blooming until tournament weekend and the spray paint applied liberally to greens as needed. I guess they want the golfers to be able to enjoy their surroundings, even if they are forced to drop a four letter word or two (and it isn't â€fore†I am thinking of) occasionally.

Happy Fourth of July! Celebrate with safety in mind, and be considerate of others who may not enjoy an entire weekend of explosions. And I implore you to secure your dogs and cats in a safe indoor location by Friday afternoon. The explosive festivities will doubtless continue all weekend, day and night, terrifying animals. The number of lost dog and lost cat searches afterwards is truly heartbreaking and is totally predictable, and totally preventable.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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