Golfer Discovers His Wife is a Fairy Princess

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A friend once told me he woke up every morning hoping his wife would turn to him and say, “Darling, I’ve watched you carefully all these years, and I am now convinced that you really do love me for myself, and I am happy to tell you that I have a $250 million trust fund that I’ve never mentioned before.” Well, she never did (and they’re now divorced). But not everyone is as unlucky in marriage as my friend. You can read more at this blog’s official 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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Rain is the Avid Golfer’s Best Friend

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Not because it makes grass grow, but because it makes non-avid golfers decide to spend the day cleaning out their basement. Two weeks ago, the Friday-afternoon meeting of the Sunday Morning Group had to begin an hour late because the 16 participants in the Ladies’ Nine-Hole Member-Guest Tournament, held that morning, took three hours and fifteen minutes to play nine holes on an otherwise empty course. You can read more at this blog’s official 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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Reader’s Trip Report: The U.S. Open by Periscope

I met Steve Davis, a reader in California, at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in 2012. He was easy to spot because he was carrying a homemade periscope, which he was using to see over the heads of people standing in front of him.  Note the beer holder:

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Davis took the latest version of his periscope to this year’s U.S. Open, at Chambers Bay. You can read his report at this blog’s official 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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The Best Beer-Oriented Belt for Golf

I don’t like the belts that tour players wear nowadays—the ones with gigantic rectangular buckles:

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I don’t like them even though they remind me a little of my beloved Mattel Shootin’ Shell Buckle Gun, featuring “exciting secret ‘no hands’ firing,” which I wore when I was a kid until I broke it. It had a built-in derringer mounted on a hinge, and the derringer swung out and fired a real projectile when you pushed your stomach against the back of the buckle — something that was harder for me then than it would be now.

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You can read more at this blog’s official 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.

Beef Box: What’s With the U.S.G.A.’s Cheesy Tee Signs?

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It’s a dumb thing to get worked up about, but I hate golf course signs that are either (a) made of plastic that tries to look like wood or stone, or (b) made of wood or stone that tries to look like plastic. You can read more at this blog’s official 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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A Miraculous Shank, a New Playoff Format, and a Burger Breakthrough

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Getting a head count of the Sunday Morning Group is tough, because nobody stands still. Recently, it occurred to me that counting bags might be less confusing than counting heads. On Sunday, we tried it. And it worked! Twenty bags, twenty numbered poker chips in Chic’s hat, five teams of four, two best balls per hole. You can read more at this blog’s official 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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These are the Best Post-golf Beer Glasses, and I’m Not Kidding

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Hydro Flask, a company for which I am an unpaid shill, makes my favorite golf beverage bottle, which I own in three versions: one for water (21 ounces), one for coffee (18 ounces), and one for lots of water (32 ounces). There have been golf rounds during which I have carried all three, using various pockets and beverage holders on my golf bag and pushcart. This year, Hydro Flask introduced insulated beverage glasses, called True Pint. You can read more at this blog’s official 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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Was This the Model for the Bunkers at Royal County Down?

The bunkers at Royal County Down, in Northern Ireland, are famous for their ball-devouring overhangs, which are savagely rimmed with marram grass and may serve as portals to another dimension. I once wrote that their densely tangled upper margins resembled the eyebrows of old men. I thought I was kidding, but maybe not.
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The upper image is of one of those bunkers; the lower is of the eyebrows of William Hugh Griffiths, a.k.a. the Lord Griffiths, a past captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, who died on Sunday at the age of 91.

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Jerry Tarde, the editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, describes Griffiths as “my favorite R & A captain.” David Fay, a former executive director of the U.S.G.A., agrees, and writes, “I will never forget his speech at the U.K. Golf Writers dinner, where he summarized his judicial philosophy: ‘Always rule against the shits.'” (Griffiths was also a judge.)

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Is This the World’s Greatest Golf Course?

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On Memorial Day weekend, I played Friday afternoon (lost five dollars), Saturday morning (came in third in a two-man scramble, playing with Tim), Saturday afternoon (advanced to the final in the member-member, also playing with Tim), Sunday morning (won six dollars), Monday morning (won low gross in the nine-hole Memorial Day mixed shamble, playing with Madeline—my golf wife—and an actually married couple), and Monday afternoon (lost five dollars). Then I played again on Friday (lost five dollars) and Saturday morning (won the member-member, one-up, playing with Tim.) That was a pretty good eight-day run, so I wasn’t totally bummed when we had thunder, lightning, and heavy rain just before 7:00 the following morning.

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I sent an email to the Sunday Morning Group saying I’d bring a couple of decks of playing cards, and Hacker (real name) suggested that we eat our cheeseburgers and hot dogs (supplied by Barney) for breakfast, instead of lunch. But the lightning had stopped by 7:30, so we played golf instead of setback. One very good thing about rain is that it scares away slackers: twenty regulars showed up, and we had the course to ourselves.

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Getting soaked was better than inhaling pine pollen—something we’ve done a lot of this spring:

P1150687Because I was up early on both Saturday and Sunday, before I left for the club I watched some of the Irish Open — by which, of course, I mean the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation. The D.D.F.I.O.H.R.F. was held this year on a course that many golfers would pick as the best in the world: Royal County Down, in Newcastle, Northern Ireland.
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Among its many memorable features are its bunkers, which are maintained by vengeful demons:

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During a round at Royal County Down in 2013, my playing partner and I waded into a jungle of whins and briers near the eleventh tee to look for a century-old relic that a caddie had told me about two years before: the remains of a small stone building, which the maintenance crew had uncovered during an aggressive gorse-removal project. We found it, at some risk to our clothing, although it was so overgrown that we couldn’t see much more than one corner.

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Later that day, Harry McCaw—a past captain of both Royal County Down and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews—told me that he thought the structure might once have served as the literal “club house”: the place where early players stored their clubs.

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I had driven to Newcastle from Dublin, a hundred miles to the south, and during part of the trip I followed Mourne Coastal Route, a scenic highway. Irish roads are narrow under any circumstances; they become narrower if your eyes are repeatedly drawn to the hills and out to sea—a danger that day, because the sky was so clear that I could see the Isle of Man, halfway to the English mainland.

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My parents once visited Ireland with another couple, and on an especially harrowing stretch of road my mother, who was sitting in the back seat with the other wife, yelled at my father to stop steering so close to the edge. He innocently raised both hands, to remind her that, in Ireland and the U.K., the driver sits on the right, not the left. During my own trip, I knocked the cowling off the passenger-side mirror of my rental car. I told the clerk at Avis when I returned the car, but she said it happened all the time, and not to worry about it.

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Will the Open Championship ever be held at Royal County Down? Fingers crossed.

Shouldn’t You Change the Way You Mark Your Ball?

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Some people, when they’re having trouble with their golf game, take a lesson or even sign up for golf school, but others make a slight change in the way they mark their golf ball while also switching to a different color of Sharpie, the official ball-marking pen of the world of golf. At any rate, that’s what I did recently. And—who knows?—maybe my new ball-identification strategy will add thirty or forty yards to my tee shots. In the photo above, the ball on the left is marked with my old, discredited pattern and color, and the ball on the right is marked with my new. I made the change because Rick had suddenly begun marking his ball almost exactly the way I was accustomed to marking mine. Or maybe he’d always marked his ball that way and I’d only just noticed. Either way, I was ready for a change, and I was happy to have an excuse to order an entire box of red Sharpies:

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When most golfers mark their ball, they don’t mark it enough, in my opinion. Whatever technique you use, you should make sure you can identify your ball without touching it, no matter how it’s lying on the ground. I use eight widely spaced dots, and even when my ball is in the rough I can almost always see at least a couple of them. Too many players check their ball by picking it up, then putting it back down in an obviously better lie. Who do they think they are? Tom Brady?