Cart-only Rules Should be Against the Rules


My home course isn’t open yet, but spring is finally truly here, and last weekend 16 of us played at Richter Park, one of the best munis in the United States: great course, stirring scenery, terrific pro, committed regulars, you name it. There’s just one problem: Richter doesn’t allow walking on weekend mornings, even if you pay the cart fee. The thinking, presumably, is that carts are good for pace of play. But, as anyone who walks regularly knows, four golfers on foot will almost always play faster than four golfers in two carts, because four golfers in two carts will almost always spend most of their time either doing nothing (because they’re waiting for someone else to do something) or aimlessly driving around. (The U.S.G.A., which is studying pace of play, should test this. And why not? They spend money on stuff that’s way dumber.)


We actually ended up walking almost as far as we would have if we’d walked, because on Sunday Richter was cart-paths-only. The starter had told us that weekend rounds usually take about five hours, and I expected the cart-path requirement to make things worse. But even the slowpokes ahead of us beat five hours, and by a wide margin. I’ve thought about that since then, and I believe the reason, paradoxically, is that having to keep carts on cart paths forces riders to think more like walkers. They plan ahead, to some extent, and that speeds them up. Still, I’ll be happy to be back on my home course, where even three and a half hours is considered dawdling—like these guys, who were sunning themselves in the lateral hazard to the left of the fairway on Richter’s sixteenth, a claustrophobia-inducing par 5:


Burgers, beer, and the Masters afterward, of course.


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


Hacker (real name) came up fifteen dollars 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: 


There’s a new sign near the first green:


They used to ask people to play in four hours and fifteen minutes; four hours is better, although three and a half would be better still. I went as a single, and was grouped with a retired guy and two of his grandsons, who were in high school. They hadn’t played much golf before, but both of them were baseball players, and every so often they really clobbered the ball.


I had missed the previous Sunday at home, too, because I was playing in a two-day amateur tournament at Richter Park Golf Course, a terrific muny about forty minutes from where I live. Three S.M.G. guys—Rick, Tony, and I—played in the senior division, and we did pretty well:


After 25 holes, I was tied, for about five seconds, with the guy who eventually won, but then I had some problems, including a quadruple bogey (from the middle of the fairway) on the eleventh hole. Still, the tournament was fun. And the guys who didn’t play at Richter had fun, too, because on Sunday S.M.G. had its first playoff of the year, after three teams tied at 16 under par. I’m kind of sorry I wasn’t there, because our playoff formats are the best in golf. On Sunday, the guys came up with a new one, in which the tied players had to sit in a chair on the patio and throw a ball onto the practice green by bouncing it off a picnic-table bench, closest to the hole:


Hacker (who took the photo above, and the one at the top of this post) sent me a report:
Barney chose the bench to bounce the ball off of, and we made the guys sit on the far side of the round table, about nine feet from the bench. The stymie rule was in effect, as always, and we decided that any ball would count, even if it was off the green. We were worried at first that no one would be able to hit the bench, but that turned out not to be an issue, because Stan was the only one who missed it.
I’ll be back home soon—too late for that playoff, but just in time for the Men’s Member-Guest.

Last Year’s Golf Water: Is It Safe to Drink?

Mounting created BloggifLast summer, I played in a tournament called the Danbury Amateur, along with several other guys from my club. We got two rounds at Richter Park, a semi-free lunch each day, and a really nice insulated water bottle, which I used for the rest of the golf season. 


I forgot about the water bottle during the winter, though, and for several months it rolled around in the trunk of my car, along with a golf-ball box containing six or seven loose golf balls. The water bottle and the ball box made quite a racket when I cornered hard, etc., but as soon as I had parked my car in my garage they stopped rolling around and I forgot about them.


This spring, I put my golf clubs back in the trunk, and brought the water bottle inside my house, to refill it. When I opened it, I noticed that there was a little bit of water still in it, from last year, and suddenly I wondered whether anything bad would happen to me if I drank the leftover golf water instead of pouring it out.

Was this a dumb idea? I don’t know. Check back in a few days and see if I’m still here.