Beef Box: Don’t Call Fairway Woods “Metals”

My first driver—which was partly responsible for my decision, at the age of thirteen, to give up golf for more than twenty years—was a two-generation hand-me-down with a head that could have filled in as the foot of a Queen Anne chair. Nowadays, though, even seven-year-olds demand titanium. A few years ago, I played in a senior event with a guy from another club who carried an ancient Spalding persimmon 3-wood, but he was the only Luddite in the field and he never hit a good shot with it. Golfers who still use clubs with wooden heads are invariably older than seventy, and they are stubborn, cheap, ignorant, or a combination of all three. You seldom see actual wood anymore even in the golf bags of estranged wives, who occupy the lowest rung on the club recycling ladder.

The question, though, is whether this change in technology necessitates a change in terminology. Various prominent television commentators,  Johnny Miller among them, have decided that it does. They refer to woods as “metals,” saying, for example, that a certain player has elected to go for the green with a “fairway metal” of some kind—perhaps a “3-metal.” Jim Nantz, on CBS, sometimes refers to a fairway wood generically as “a metal-headed club.”

There are three things wrong with this trend. The first is that it creates more confusion than it eliminates, since almost all modern golf clubs, including irons and putters, are “metal-headed.” The second is that “wood” is no more anachronistic than “iron.” (Irons haven’t been made of iron since Britain was ruled by Romans. Should we start calling those clubs “alloys”?) The third is that avoiding “wood” is excessively fastidious, like objecting to the use of the (useful) word “hopefully.” The television commentators are proposing a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Besides, retaining an archaic expression creates the possibility for creative revisionism later on.

“Why are woods called ‘woods’?” your great-great-granddaughter may ask you someday.

“Well, Little One,” you can explain, “there was an awfully good player back around the turn of the century. He hit the ball farther than anybody else, and he won every prize there was to win. In fact, I taught him everything he knew. Woods were named after him.”

I Wish My Favorite Golf Shoes Didn’t Leak


I learned about True Linkswear golf shoes at the PGA Golf Merchandise Show in 2011. The pair I tried on at the show was too small—the company’s reps had sold out of my size—but they were still the most comfortable golf shoes I’d ever worn. I now have a dozen pairs, and I wear them even when I’m not playing golf, and many of my friends have switched to them, too. Tim even bought a True golf bag:


My only beef, until now, has been that the pairs I own that are supposed to be waterproof aren’t really—and other golfers who wear and love Trues have told me the same thing. My favorite model ever is one they don’t sell anymore, called “lyt/dry,” which I wear in preference to other shoes even when I’m not playing golf. They are definitely lyt but they’ve never been truly dry, even though the word “waterproof” is printed right on the side:


I’ve dealt with that issue by wearing wool socks when I play in the rain or when the grass is wet, and I’ve dried wet pairs between rounds by using the hairdryer in my hotel room, and I’ve persevered because even when my Trues were leaking they were way more comfortable than any other golf shoes I’ve ever worn. But during the Sunday Morning Group’s recent golf trip to Atlantic City my latest pair, called True motion, didn’t just leak — they basically came apart:


Now, True doesn’t claim that motions are waterproof, and this particular pair had been in my golf-shoe rotation for more than a year. Still, we were playing in dew, not rain, and I had subjected them, cumulatively, to less wear and tear than I have to my very first pair of Trues, which is four and a half years old and which I still walk the dog in. Yet they didn’t hold up:


I complained to the company, and a representative assured me that a new model coming in early 2016, called True elements, will really and truly be “breathable & waterproof.” And I hope he’s right, because even when they’re wet I really, really love these shoes.

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

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. Here’s an example of the second type (or maybe it’s the first):


And here’s an example of the first type (or maybe it’s the second):
tee sign-001

Actually, I don’t know what it’s trying to look like. Cream cheese? Yuck.


Has Anyone Else Had This Problem With Their Rangefinder?


Last June, I bought a Bushnell Tour Z6 laser rangefinder. It’s not as good at picking up distant targets as my ancient Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 was, but it’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and the battery lasts a long time, and I like it. (I had made myself believe that the PinSeeker was broken, but as soon as the Z6 arrived I discovered that it still worked fine. So I sold it to Kevin for $48 and a ball-marker.)

My only beef about the Z6 is that the eyepiece, which keeps sunlight off the lens while you’re using it and is the thing you turn to adjust the focus, looks solid but is actually a cheap, floppy rubber tube that’s held in place by nothing but some kind of not-very-strong glue. Here’s the eyepiece:


Mine came almost all the way off one of the first times I used it, but I pushed it back on and tried to be careful with it. At some point during a round today, though, it disappeared. Here’s what my Z6 looks like now. You can see a tiny, booger-like remnant of the old glue, over on the lower right:


Has this happened to anyone else?  I didn’t handle it roughly, a lesson I learned with my first rangefinder. I just used it while playing golf. And — Hey, Bushnell! — what am I supposed to do now? Is my rangefinder still waterproof? Can the eyepiece be replaced? Should I try to trick Kevin into selling me back my PinSeeker?

Winter Golf and a Previously Unknown Type of Cheeseburger

These cars belong to my friends and me. There were no other cars in the parking lot at Tunxis when we got there on Sunday morning.

These cars belong to my friends and me. There were no other cars in the parking lot when we arrived on Sunday morning.

We got what seemed like a foot of rain on Saturday. That was good in one way, because it washed away most of the snow, but it was bad in another, because (apparently) it persuaded the people who make the decisions at Tunxis Plantation Country Club not to open the following morning, even though Hacker (real name) had called the evening before and left a message that we would be there at 9:30, ready to go. I sensed trouble as I approached the clubhouse: of the ten or so greens I could see from the road, only one had a flag, and the parking lot was empty except for cars that belonged to people I knew. Hacker started calling around the state, but the places he tried either weren’t open or weren’t answering the phone. (Suggestion to golf courses that don’t shut down for the entire winter: update your website and outgoing voice-mail message every night with information about the following day.) Finally, he found an open course, and it was just thirty-five minutes farther away. So we caravaned:

P1110660And then we spent a very enjoyable day at Lyman Orchards, which, like Tunxis, has forty-five holes. One of Lyman’s eighteens was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and the other was designed by Gary Player. The fifth nine—called the Apple Nine—is new, and is (I would guess) for kids and beginners. There’s also a golf school and a driving range.

Lyman Orchards is also an orchard, and there's a big store in which you can buy apples and apple-themed stuff.

Lyman Orchards is an orchard. There are apple trees in the middle of the course, and there’s a big store, called the Apple Barrel, in which you can buy apple-based and apple-themed products. Maybe your wife would like to tag along some Sunday, and spend a few hours shopping for apple butter while you and your friends are playing golf.

We first played Lyman several years ago, and at that time they kept both eighteens open all winter. Now they shut down the Jones course—which is too bad, because the Player course is definitely second best. It’s also a pain to walk, because you always seem to be climbing to the top of a huge hill in order to hit your ball to the bottom of it, and then walking miles to the next tee. Still, golf.

The conditions weren't what you would call perfect, but the course was open. In fact, it was pretty busy.

The conditions were not what you would call perfect, but the course was open. In fact, it was almost somewhat busy.

On most of the holes, the flags wouldn’t go back in the cups straight, and on some of the holes they wouldn’t go back at all. The reason was that the little holes at the bottoms of the cups were all either partly or entirely full of sand. I tried to clean one out with a tee and a green-repair tool, but that was a fool’s errand. The greens themselves were squishy on top, and some of them had bare patches, but we kept being surprised at how un-slow they were.

Afterward, we decided to eat lunch at a place we hadn’t tried before, the Rover’s Lodge, on Beseck Lake. The house specialty (according to a big sign facing the road) is “steamed cheeseburgers”:

P1110675A new form of cheeseburger? How could we not? I learned later that the steamed cheeseburger is “a food so truly regional that it is found in only about a dozen restaurants within a 25-mile radius of Middletown, in central Connecticut,” and that it “was invented in the 1920s, when steamed food was thought to be healthier than fried.” (You can read more about steamed cheeseburgers here.)

Steamed cheeseburger.

This is a steamed cheeseburger, from a restaurant called Ted’s.

It turned out that the Rover’s Lodge serves food of any kind only “in season,” and that the season isn’t winter. There were about a dozen guys in the bar when we went in, and they were interested, up to a point, in the fact that we had just played golf. Later, I found two reviews of the Rover’s Lodge on TripAdvisor—one that said it was “very good,” and one that said it was “a dump.” It’s possible that we’ll never know who is right, because we continued up the road to New Guida’s Restaurant, where we’ve eaten before. Let me say this for Guida’s: their cheeseburgers, however they make them, are very good. Ditto their fries and milkshakes.


Then we drove home to watch the playoff games.

Guida's. Cash only, please.

Guida’s. Cash only, please.

Beef Box: Golf Pants With Hateful Mini-Pocket-in-Pocket


The tiny pocket inside the right-hand front pocket of some of the pants you own is for your pocket watch—which, you may have noticed, you stopped carrying in 1895. So why is the tiny pocket still there? Its only function, as far as I can see, is to become hopelessly clogged with change, tees, ball markers, golf pencils, and green-repair tools—which are especially insidious because if one of them gets in sideways you can’t extract it without undressing.


Clothing manufacturers don’t even sew tags in the collars of golf shirts anymore. Why do they splurge on pockets that serve no purpose?

Hopelessly impacted "watch" pocket.

Hopelessly golf-impacted “watch” pocket.

I own two pairs of golf pants that are even more annoying. Both pairs have a “scorecard pocket,” which is just inside the right-hand rear pocket and is almost exactly the same size. One pair also has an extra pocket in front, just inside the regular pocket, so that (supposedly) you can keep your keys and other non-golf stuff isolated from your tees and other golf stuff. The idea sounds sort of clever, but all it does is create frustration and confusion where none existed, because when you have two pockets in one place you have a fifty-fifty chance of sticking your hand in the wrong one.

Hand in wrong pocket (a simulation).

Hand in wrong pocket (a reenactment).

The only solution, other than buying pants with normal pockets, is to perform a partial pocketectomy:

Surgical implement, resected  "watch" pocket.

Problem solved: surgical implement, resected “watch” pocket.

Beef Box: Golf Idiots, and Neckties on TV Commentators

In 2001, I played 136 holes in one day at Doral with Jim McLean, who runs a golf school there. We started on the Blue Monster and averaged forty-five minutes per eighteen, and to save time we often teed off simultaneously, as in the photo above.

In 2001, I played 136 holes in one day at Doral with Jim McLean, who runs a golf school there. We started on the Blue Monster, where Tiger won over the weekend, and we averaged forty-five minutes per eighteen. To  save time, we often teed off simultaneously, as in the photo above.

David Lee, a reader in Appleton, Wisconsin, sent the following email to the PGA Tour over the weekend:

After hearing it again in today’s TV broadcast, I have a suggestion. I’m referring to a fan shouting out immediately after a Tiger hit: “IN THE HOLE!” It has become so obnoxious to hear these comments, seemingly elicited so that the fan can tell friends at home afterwards that it was his voice doing the shout-out—I’m guessing that that’s the reason because the comment occurs within a nanosecond of the clubhead contacting the ball, oftentimes on a very long shot and without regard to the quality of the shot. Current technology must make it easy for the TV networks to block out such shout-outs—I’m not talking about spontaneous outbursts of support—I think that you and I know which outbursts we’re discussing here. The PGA Tour should do some PR communicating to tournament spectator attendees that such comments are frowned upon and that they will not make it to the air-waves anyway—and take action to eliminate these outbursts from the telecasts. I think that the vast majority of your golfing fans would support this move, as well as would the Tour players.

I don’t know whether what he suggests is technologically possible, but if it is I’d be in favor of it. Or how about using something like a surgical staple gun to implant a device under the scalp of each spectator which would administer a painful but nonlethal electric shock each time the spectator shouted something stupid? And let’s do same to guys who sit behind home plate at baseball games and clap as each ball is pitched, in the hope of bothering the batter.

Nobody else at a golf tournament dresses like this. Why do they?

Nobody else at a golf tournament dresses like this. Why do they?

And, as long as I’m complaining, how about not allowing TV golf commentators to wear neckties? Golf courses should be tie-free zones for everyone but Tim Finchem and the manager of the grill room.

I don't mind seeing ties on ten-year-old caddies in 1925, as in this photo, which was taken at my golf club. The pro when I joined, in 1991, was the son of tiny kid who is fourth from the left in the front row.

I don’t mind seeing ties on ten-year-old caddies in 1925, as in this photo, which was taken at my golf club, but everyone else should knock it off. The pro when I joined, in 1991, was the son of tiny kid who is fourth from the left in the front row–who was the son of the (tie-less) man at the right, the pro in 1925.

Beef Box: Hotel & Motel Electrical Outlets

Power drain hidden behind motel-room refrigerator/minibar/microwave console.

Traveling golfers have stuff they need to plug in overnight: phones, cameras, GPS devices, laptops, tablets, CPAP machines, whatever. Yet many hotel and motel rooms make power extremely hard to access. Often, the only electrical outlets are hidden behind huge pieces of furniture and are already fully in use. The photo above is of a six-outlet adapter plugged into a standard duplex receptacle—the motel’s work-around solution to its own power shortage. All six outlets were in use already, so I had to unplug both the refrigerator and the alarm clock to plug in my Kindle cord, which also works on my phone. (Amazon pointlessly made its adapter too wide to fit side by side with even a normal-size plug.) To get at this mess, I had to move the fridge, which had a microwave on top of it. And the only place I could find to plug in my laptop was behind the bed:

Behind the bed: a duplex with a quad adapter.

I couldn’t plug in my laptop in the bathroom, because my camera battery was already charging in there. A friend of mine travels with a power strip and an extension cord—although in this room he still would have needed to move either the fridge or the bed.

Sharpiegate Redux

It’s dumb to get worked up about dumb things, but, ever since I complained about golf bags that have pen holders (good idea) which aren’t deep enough to securely engage the pocket clip of the one kind of pen that all golfers use (idiotic idea), I keep noticing other golf bags with the same problem. Here’s one from Founders Club:

Callaway makes a bag with the same defect, and somewhere I have a photograph to prove it, but I can’t find it at the moment so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. People who say these slots are intended for golf pencils rather than permanent markers are wrong, because if you put a golf pencil in one of them you’ll need a surgical clamp to get it out again.

While we wait for the world to come to its senses, here’s a related question: Why doesn’t Sharpie sell its non-black markers one pen or one color at a time? If you want to mark your golf balls with, let’s say, a purple marker, you can’t buy just one, or even just three of the same color; you have to buy something like this:

Come on, Sharpie! You invented this market. Show some ball-marking leadership!