Archive for Thursday, June 29, 2000

Returning to the Tour; Returning to the past

June 29, 2000

To understand my current place in the food chain as a golf hack, you first have to know about my golf past.

Simply put, there is no past to speak of.

I began playing golf about 12 years ago when my former high school football coach asked me to take part in a charity scramble tournament. At 26, I'd never picked up a golf club except for a putter, which I used expertly to get through the windmill or the spider in my life.

But I would do anything to help the program.

For three straight years, I played golf once a year and did something to distinguish myself at this tournament as the worst golfer a title I relished because I didn't consider myself a golfer. In fact, to this day, the award for worst golfer at the Shark Scramble in Pacifica, Calif., is still named in my honor.

I finally bought some golf clubs just for the heck of it. Three years ago, while working as a sportswriter in Olathe, we decided to ride the new-found popularity in golf created by Tiger Woods to start a golf page, which would consist of a weekly course review.

The best part about it was we were all bad golfers and it made for some funny occurrences for the page, which became one of the most popular weekly features in the publication. We called ourselves the Not Quite Ready for the Tour Tour, which is now in its fourth season.

It's laid-back golf. Actually, it goes against every form of golf etiquette ever invented. Jokes are told often as you are in your backswing. Hand shadows are known to fly across a putting line and Mulligans come in an as-you-need-them format.

It's probably the reason I've never taken golf too seriously or that fun is always my No. 1 priority on the golf course.

It's not for everyone.

It's certainly not for my golf partner Dan Simon, who represents golf's moral majority.

Dan was actually working last week. Believe it or not, publishers do have some tasks to tend to.

As a result, I was left to fend for myself. I returned to something familiar. Being a card-carrying honorary member of the Not Quite Ready for the Tour Tour, I called president Jim Bradford, the sports editor in Olathe when he's not on the links.

He found a way to sneak me in and I joined the Tour for its trip west Olathe and Lakeside Hills Golf Course, which will never be confused with the two courses I played recently on the shores of Kauai, but, hey, who am I to complain.

Free golf is free golf.

Actually, Lakeside Hills was a welcomed treat. I went through an entire box of balls in Hawaii, including five MIAs on one hole a par-5 twice elevated tee box and elevated landing area that was cut out of guava, mango forest.

At Lakeside Hills, which is a mere 5,975 yards, I parted with just one ball all day and shot a season-best score of 93 in the process. It's not in the same league just yet with Rod Moyer or Dale Sample, but progress is progress.

It was the first time in more than 75 Tour events that we played without a lot of shenanigans, which would probably explain why we were able to wrap up our round in a very workmanlike 3 hours and 45 minutes.

One of the great things about the Tour is that everyone has a nickname, which is given by Bradford. For years, I was known as Left Eye methinks, in honor of the fact that I am left-handed and Andre Rison's girlfriend and member of the singing group TLC had just gotten into the news by torching the wide receiver's house.

Bradford somehow became known as the Big Easy, which is something of a misnomer because I've never heard anyone swear more not even Dan Simon after a bad golf shot.

Easy? I think not.

Then there is crime and court reporter Kevin Wright, who at one point was the only legitimate golfer on the Tour. Kevin is the all-time leading money winner on the Tour and won again at Lakeside Hills by turning in a 90 on a day that he struggled.

By the way, Kevin, for obvious reasons, is known simply as "Cop Rock."

I didn't get the opportunity to play with a couple of Tour newcomers Essex and Mustard Seed, but I'm sure we'll hook up sometime before the end of the golf season.

The next step might be in getting Mr. Simon out onto the Olathe tour. When he wasn't bashing my game, he wrote last week about his use of bad language on the course. We can fix that. And I suppose we can find him a nickname, too.

The Big Sigh? It could work.

It beats vulgarity.

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