It's that time of year to examine the most frustrating global obsession since the last frustrating global obsession. The U.S. Open and AT&T championships are upcoming and, glory be, it's Golf Season!
The most common questions asked of golfers everywhere are:
"Why do you do it?" "Are you really wearing that?" "When will you be home?" And the ever-insulting: "Is golf a sport?"
To address the last first: If golf is not a sport, why can the world's best athletes not play it? Michael Jordan has a tournament that annually attracts your favorites from every discipline, including Drew Brees, Marcus Allen, Mike Piazza, Julius Erving, hockey's Hull, Lemieux, and Gretzky.
Granted, these guys are better than most of us, but even they can't consistently beat a pro.
Granted #2, some NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL studs have been so banged up on their primary field of endeavor that they now play with magnets on their elbows, knees, backs and shoulders. I don't know that this technology works but these guys can't use the Porta-Potty for fear they'll get sucked onto the metal door and need the Jaws of Life to pry them free.
Playing in a tournament with Jack Nicklaus was the most excited I've ever been with a man but my first Celebrity Golf event was a disaster. The field included Burt Lancaster, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Lemmon and other dead people of no relevance to the post-Boomer crowd, but each had throngs of admirers that day. I had one lone fan who appeared wearing an "Alan Thicke T-shirt" with my picture on the front! I grabbed on to him like a pit bull with a pork chop and on the final tee sliced a 50 yard drive right into his chest, causing him to sprout a teat full of ball dimples, barely alive but pleased as all get out -- nay, sexually aroused, I suspect -- about our sudden bond.
Years later, I've now hit enough people for a class action suit.
Alas, it takes a lot of balls to play the way I do.
Most fans have fun in the gallery, but if Sir Charles Barkley wants to find his errant shot in some rattler-infested swamp, who among you will volunteer to suck venom from his hind leg, no matter how curvy it looks in those commercials? "Let it go, Charles, get back in the cart!"
As a matter of confessional perspective, let me acknowledge that golf is an exacting game and I'm just an approximate guy.
My skill set peaks at bunker-raking. I've lost balls in the ball-washer.
My game in a word? "Kevorkian."
To those who say, "Golf is no exercise"... nonsense!
My sphincter gets a full workout when I play on TV. Getting ready to putt -- for the third time -- mine could bench press 400 lbs., a regular Arnold SchwarzzenSphincter.
Some days when I putt, the terrorists win.
I've been immortalized on the Golf Channel missing a 2-footer, choking at a level not seen since Pam Anderson's honeymoon video.
Terminology: "Handicap," the great equalizer, that numerical value designed to calculate your degree of incompetence... a quantifiable measure of your self-loathing.
Other sports offer compromise: there's a lower basket for shrimp ballers and baseball newbies get a t-ball. The NFL playing field could be leveled by giving the Redskins 5 downs. (A cheap shot but kinda funny, come on! Anyway, now they have RG3 so there's hope.)
But no other game offers that ultimate feel-good adjustment, the "Mulligan." Named after some hapless nincompoop, Mulligan is golf's way of saying, "I'm sorry, but I can't compete unless I get another chance. Apparently, I am too pathetic to play by the rules so I require some special dispensation to continue. I didn't get it right the first time so let's pretend it never happened."
Mulligans are the Big Oops, the Universal Do-Overs and wouldn't the world be a friendlier place if we had Mullies for everything?
(Cue Mulligan Theme Song: "If I could do it all over, I would do it all over you.")
The Mulligan Hall of Fame would honor General Custer, the Captain of the Titanic, and the Secret Service guy who said, "We're Secret... let's get Serviced... Hey, it's Colombia, what could go wrong?'
Everyone in Hollywood would get a Marriage Mulligan.
Political do-overs would have served Sarah Palin: "I can NOT see Russia from my house."
President Bush the Latter would take Mullies for Katrina and that WMD guesswork and Mr. Clinton would happily accept the Lewinsky Mully. Talk about blowing it!
No relief for your urologist, however. In the middle of your vasectomy, there is no comfort in, "My bad. Gotta take a knee here."
Incidentally, there is no evidence that golfers are inadequate sexually but if this column were just called "Golf," you might have stopped reading and would have missed this valuable tip: Don't take Viagra before golf. It hurts your swing 'cuz you can't keep your head down.
The coolest thing about golf is that you get to start a new hole every 7 strokes. Indeed, as we Boomers get older, odds are we won't be faster runners or hotter lovers but we might become better putters because we're already bent over.
A wish for your foursome: May you always find your balls and may your putter never flutter!