Tree Trouble: Winter is Coming, and Howard Meets His Match

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There’s a maple near the bend of the dogleg on the first hole, and each year it provides one of the first clear signs that the golf season is winding down. The tree may mark one of the famous portals to hell, because there’s another tree just behind it, planted in memory of a dead guy, and if your tee shot clears the first tree the second one will sometimes knock your ball into a lateral hazard–like a pair of volleyball players doing a bump-set-and-spike. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new. And, if you’re willing to wait a month or so, you can find complete versions of all my old posts on this site, too, by paging down until you reach them.

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How to Create Your Own Inexpensive On-course Sound System

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At my club’s member-guest two years ago, Fritz and Klinger showed my brother, John, and me that a golf-cart cup holder acts like an amplifier when you place an iPod or iPhone in it and crank the volume — as Klinger is demonstrating in the photo below with “Send Her My Love,” by Journey. They played Journey in their cart during our match with them again this year, too, and when the tournament was over John mentioned the cup-holder trick to his older daughter, who is starting college this fall, because he thought she would be impressed. She wasn’t. “She said it’s common knowledge that cups, cup holders, ceramic mugs, etc., have that effect,” John wrote me later. She also told him about an even more inventive way to accomplish the same thing. It involves these:

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You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new. And, if you’re willing to wait a month or so, you can find complete versions of all my old posts on this site, too, by paging down until you reach them.

A Visit to our Enemy Club, and Jimmy’s Brilliant Idea

Addison, Rick, Other Gene. Enemy Club, August 9, 2014.

Addison, Rick, Other Gene. Enemy Club, August 9, 2014.

Our course was closed for the women’s eighteen-hole member-guest, so Addison, Rick, Other Gene, and I played a round at our enemy club, on the far side of town. We have a semi-reciprocal arrangement with them, and some of their holes have nice views of our state’s second largest natural lake, but I don’t love their course. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new. And, if you’re willing to wait a month or so, you can find complete versions of all my old posts on this site, too, by paging down until you reach them.

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Member-Guest News (Part Five): Night Putting, Bloody Marys, and Attempted Man Hugs

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The first round of match play in the world’s second best amateur golf tournament—the U.S. Amateur—was on the Golf Channel on Wednesday, but they switched to a boring pro-tour “round-up” before it was over. In the Amateur, some guy had just birdied the seventeenth hole to square his match with some other guy, and the two of them were the only players still on the course, and I was angry because I wanted to know which one of them would advance. I tried to look up the result later, online, but I couldn’t remember the name of either guy. If the Golf Channel ever decides to cover the world’s best amateur golf tournament—my club’s men’s member-guest—stuff like that won’t happen, I promise you. Incidentally, I would happily watch anyone’s member-guest on TV, in preference to, say, the Champions Tour.

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You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Member-Guest News (Part Four): The Return of Peter P.

Peter P. and Other Gene, 2013 Member-Guest. Photo by Vi Owens.

Peter P. and Other Gene, shootout, 2013 Men’s Member-Guest. Photo by Vi Owens.

A little over a year ago, Peter P. was in a terrible car accident. He was in intensive care at a big university hospital for weeks and weeks, and for a while his doctors worried that he wouldn’t walk again. He obviously couldn’t come along on our regular fall golf outing to Atlantic City, less than two months after the accident, so Reese and I made a life-size stand-in, called Flat Pete, using the color plotter in Reese’s office and a sheet of foamboard. One interesting thing we learned on the trip is that, if you want to make a favorable impression on female bartenders, it doesn’t hurt to be a half-inch thick:

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The real Peter P. played in this year’s Men’s Member-Guest, his first official appearance in a club event since his accident. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Member-Guest News (Part Three): Six Proven Ways to Change the Weather

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There was heavy rain in the forecast all weekend during my club’s member-guest, but hardly any rain actually fell. My brother and I used our umbrellas to protect our golf bags before we teed off on Saturday morning, but that was pretty much it for the bad weather. Most of the rain that did fall fell on Friday night, making things much easier for Gary (our terrific superintendent) and his crew. For the most part, the rain went either north or south of us. I take partial credit, because I’ve developed a number of effective techniques for warding off golf-threatening storms. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Member-Guest News (Part Two): Men at the Outer Limits of Fashion

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The day after the member-guest, Addison and I realized that we were still golf-deprived, so we went out at five in the afternoon for a Two-Hour Eighteen™. I played pretty well but felt like a chopper because Addison made five birdies on the front nine alone, even though he was tired from the weekend and from hitting a couple of hundred range balls that morning while getting fitted for new clubs. We had to play through one pair of slowpokes but were otherwise unimpeded, and we finished our round, walking, in just under two hours. Among the topics we discussed was the stuff other people had worn during the member-guest.  You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Member-Guest News (Part One): How to Open a Beer Bottle With a Beer Can

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My club held its annual men’s member-guest tournament this past weekend. My brother, John, and I repeated as the winners of our flight but not as the winners of the whole thing, because in the shoot-out we both bogeyed the second hole, which even the guys with strokes seemed to have no trouble parring, if not birdieing. But we had a great time, as we always do, and Brian taught us something no one had ever seen before.  You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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The U.S.G.A. and R&A Should Adopt This Playoff Format (Among Other Things)

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Hacker (real name) came up $15 short on Sunday — something that hardly ever happens. He doesn’t count the money when he collects it before the Sunday Morning Group tees off, and he doesn’t keep track of who has paid and who hasn’t, yet the total is almost always exactly right. I know that I wasn’t the one who forgot to pay, because I’ve been on Martha’s Vineyard with my family. I’ve played golf just once, at Farm Neck Golf Club, the course I shared last summer with my close personal friend the President of the United States.  You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Up the Road From the Open: Ordeal by Asparagus, Death by Bacon, and the Formby Hippo

formbyasparagus Less than an hour up the Lancashire coast from Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where the 2014 Open was held, is the village of Formby, which is the home of two terrific courses, Formby Golf Club and Formby Ladies Golf Club. (It’s also the home of a forgettable Florida-style golf course, called Formby Hall.) Formby Golf Club abuts the Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve, one whose attractions is a small plot on which farmers grow asparagus, a once significant local crop. A man I met during a trip to the region last year told me that banquets for area golf-club captains held at Formby Golf Club had once been “ordeals by asparagus,” because diners had to be careful not to drip butter onto their red-silk tailcoats. I visited the Ainsdale dunes one afternoon between rounds, and, among other things, studied an informative historical display.

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I also bought a cup of coffee at a mobile stand, which was operated by a middle-aged couple.

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The man, whose name was Phil, noticed my golf cap and invited me to play golf with him and his son, Sean, at Southport & Ainsdale, a few miles farther up the road, where he was a member. We played a day or two later. The course is one of my many favorites in the area.

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Phil is a retired Merseyside policeman. At lunch after our round, I asked him what his toughest case as a cop had been, and he told me about a forty-three-year-old woman who had died under mysterious circumstances. “I attended her autopsy,” he said, “because she was from a tough neighborhood and there was a presumption of foul play.” The pathologist was baffled, but then, as he was finishing up, he noticed something odd in her throat and gripped it with a clamp—like that scene in “Twin Peaks” in which Special Agent Dale Cooper finds a typed letter “R” under Laura Palmer’s fingernail. Phil said, “It was a piece of bacon rind, six or seven inches long. She had choked to death on a bacon sandwich”—an unsettling thought, since that’s what I was having for lunch, and since bacon is pretty much the No. 1 nutrient of the Sunday Morning Group.

Incidentally, Formby has foxes in addition to asparagus:

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And Southport & Ainsdale has rabbits:

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And Formby also has the Formby Hippo—about which I may have more to say later.

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