What’s In My Bag, Part Three: Let’s Have a Look Inside Those Pockets

Will, Brent, D.O., Ben, Liberty National Golf Course, Jersey City, New Jersey, May 5, 2013.

Famous building, Will, Brent, D.O., Ben, famous statue. Fourteenth tee, Liberty National Golf Course, Jersey City, New Jersey, May 5, 2013.

On Sunday, I had the tremendous good fortune to be invited to join a twelve-man outing at Liberty National Golf Course, in Jersey City, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. I employed a labor-saving technique I’ve often used during visits to other rich-guy golf clubs: I wore my sorriest-looking pair of shoes, knowing that the locker-room guy would fully resuscitate them while we were playing. During a multi-day trip Pine Valley ten or fifteen years ago, I took three sorry-looking pairs of shoes and left them outside my door sequentially. I went home feeling like a new man.

Cool clubhouse.

Cool clubhouse–and that statue again.

Liberty National was designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp, and it was built, in 2006, on a desolate industrial site. (I’ve seen a variety of cost estimates, all of which have nine digits.) The Barclays—which used to be known as the Westchester Classic, and then as the Buick Classic—was held there in 2009, and it will be held there again in August. Tour players grumbled about the course the first time. Since then, Kite and Cupp have made many changes, and either the changes have been effective or I don’t know what I’m talking about, because I liked the course a lot. And the clubhouse is the only starkly modernistical one I’ve ever been in that I fully approve of.

The bar, post-round.

The bar, post-round.

Partway through our round, I apologized to my caddie for having forgotten to remove a couple of nonessential items from my golf bag. (I’ve gotten a little lazy about on-course housekeeping in recent years, because at home I now almost always use a pushcart.) The bag can’t have been too bad, though, because I still occasionally carry it myself. Here is some of what was in it:

Ball markers

The photo above shows my selection of lucky ball markers for that day. Clockwise from lower left: a souvenir marker from Royal County Down, a necessity because of the sublimity, transcendence, immanence, etc., of that course; a souvenir marker from a casino in Connecticut, useful because it has four colored pointy things, any one of which can be aimed at the hole; a Norwegian coin with an actual hole in the middle of it; a Moroccan coin featuring King Hassan II, who loved golf, wore golf gloves on both hands, and was accompanied during golf rounds by a servant whose only job was to use a pair of silver tongs to hold the king’s cigarette while swung; a one-something coin from Dubai, which I often use when I absolutely have to one-putt; a big old Mexican coin with some guy on it; a Colombian coin featuring what appear to me to be balls, holes, and “aiming chutes.”

When I wrote about (a slightly different selection of) lucky ball markers, last year, I said that when I used a coin with a guy’s head on it I aimed the top the head at the hole. Michael Clark, a reader, wrote to say that, on the final day of a three-day-tournament at his club, he had discovered a better way. “The eyes of the coin had to be looking at the hole,” he wrote. “When the eyes lined up to the hole the putts were dropping! Also, it had to be the same coin. So, if the coin has eyes, line them up!” Since then, I have field-tested Clark’s method, and adopted it.

Morefar green repair tool

The photo above is of what is probably the luckiest green-repair tool I’ve ever owned. I got it at a super-secretive golf club called Morefar Back O’ Beyond, which straddles the border between Danbury, Connecticut, and Brewster, New York.

The course on the left is Morefar. The course on the right is Richter Park, which is owned by the city of Danbury, Connecticut, and is one of the best munys in the country.

The course on the left is Morefar. The course on the right is Richter Park, which is owned by the city of Danbury, Connecticut, and is one of the best munys in the country.

Morefar

Morefar used to be owned by the disgraced insurance company A.I.G. I played there a dozen years ago as the guest of one of the club’s handful of local members. Only a tiny number of golfers are allowed out each day, and the only other group on the course on the day we were there was that of the Sultan of Brunei, who teed off before we did. He and his retinue were almost comically slow, but, it turns out, you don’t play through the Sultan of Brunei. On an airplane recently, I saw a guy (in first class) who had a Morefar attaché case in his lap. I gave him the secret sign of brotherhood (by showing him my green-repair tool) as I walked past him on my way to the back of the plane, but he cut me dead.

coppertone

The item above is roll-on sunscreen, which I use as “lip balm.” The tube is at least half again as big as a ChapStick tube, and the stuff is waterproof. It’s especially handy in cold weather and in wind. I don’t carry ordinary sunscreen in my golf bag because I don’t believe in applying sunscreen in situ. I once told someone that if I ever ran for President my platform would have just three planks. I don’t recall what the first two were, but the third was that everyone would have to put on their sunscreen at home, before they went to the golf course, the swimming pool, or wherever. Sunscreen is much easier to apply when you aren’t wearing clothes, and it works better if it’s had some time to soak in. When I see young parents at the beach trying to squirt sunscreen onto squirming, uncooperative children, I think: “An hour ago, your children were naked and not covered with sand; why didn’t you think of doing this then? When I’m the President, we’ll have no more of this nonsense.”

Several readers have sent me descriptions of what’s in their own bag. As promised, I will soon create a new section and post several of them permanently. If you’d like to add your own bag to the pile, send an email to myusualgame@gmail.com. Include a golf-related description of yourself and at least one or two photos of your golf stuff.

(Read Part One and Part Two.)

What's In My Bag?

What’s In My Bag?

Improve Your Golf Game by Using Luckier Coins

As I remove my clubs from the trunk of my car and put on my golf shoes (while being semi-careful not to scrape the bumper), I often agonize about which ball markers to carry that day. I have a huge collection, consisting mostly of foreign coins, and I realized recently that I won’t possibly live long enough to make full use of them. During a typical round, I carry between four and six markers in my pocket, and I try to spread the selection around—although I hate to abandon a lucky marker just to be egalitarian. Coaches face this dilemma. You’d like to play everyone on the bench, but, on the other hand, you’d like to win.

The image above shows some of my current favorites. On the far left is a Moroccan 10-dirham coin. The guy in the pointed hat is King Hassan II, who was a tyrant but also a golfaholic. (He wore golf gloves on both hands, and, before swinging, gave his cigarette to a servant, who held it with silver tongs.) Next is a Colombian 200-peso piece. It’s good because it has aiming lines and round things that look like golf holes and golf balls. Then an old Mexican peso—nice because the guy looks strange but also friendly and wise. (And lucky.) Then a Norwegian 5-kroner coin, which has a golf hole in it—get it? Last, on the right, is an Indian 2-rupee coin, which I sometimes use when I absolutely have to two-putt. (There are aiming lines on the other side.)

Here are some more:

The coin on the far left is an old favorite: an Irish 20-pence piece. If I pointed the nose of the horse at my ball when I marked it, the next putt would almost always go in or come very, very close. I stopped using it, though, when I realized how many unused (and potentially even luckier) coins I had in the trunk of my car. (I keep my markers in a yellow plastic tackle box.) Next to it is an Australian 20-cent piece. The image is of a duck-billed platypus swimming around, and the curvy lines—which represent the platypus’s curvy path through the water—seem to go well with putts that break a lot. Then another Australian coin, a dodecahedral one, which I like because the many tiny athletes depicted on it don’t include a golfer. Next is a Moroccan 1-dirham coin, which is good for one-putts (because of the 1). And last is a huge, magnetic, fake-pewter Golf Digest thing, which I used for a while out of company loyalty but then abandoned because what’s with the lion?

Not all my markers are coins or coin-like objects. I also have several thousand souvenir markers—the kind with the prong thing that you stick into the ground:

Of the markers in the picture above, my least favorite is the Starr Pass one, because I have no idea what Starr Pass is and don’t care enough even to Google it. I’ve never used it. My favorite may be the impossible-to-decipher one near the lower right-hand corner. The symbol on it looks a little like the presidential seal, so maybe it belonged to an important government official, up to and possibly including the commander-in-chief. Not depicted is my all-time favorite in this category: my marker from Morefar Golf Club, which I seem to have lost. The one time I played Morefar, there was only one other foursome on the course, and my foursome was stuck behind it. But the slowpoke was the Sultan of Brunei, and, apparently, you’re not allowed to play through him. My consolation was the marker, which I now can’t find. Oh, woe is me.