Monday, August 15, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate Golf

Last week I attended the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Country Club. For the uninitiated, this is one of the “majors” in the PGA golf season. All of the big name players are there, and a whole slew of other dudes you have never heard of even if you watch too much ESPN. The real action is off the course however, as an event like this brings out every Old Money/Nouveau Riche Southerner in a 400 mile radius. Expensive sports cars displayed by perky girls in tight clothes beckon from air conditioned tents. The merchandise tent is roughly the size of a Dick’s Sporting Goods Superstore with PGA Championship logos on 45 different hats, 65 different golf shirts, signed course lithographs, wine glasses, pint glasses, golf bags, shoes, balls, tees, arc welding equipment, decorative burial urns, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Corporate schmoozing is an art form as everything has been paid for via company expense accounts. It’s a crowd of thousands that looks like they fell out of a J. Crew catalogue. Every guy is walking around like he has the world by the balls, and frankly, he probably does. Tastefully dressed blond Southern Girls sashay around the VIP tents, dodging overfed middle managers with donkey dick sized cigars, looking for CEOs and The Holy Grail... an actual PGA Tour pro. It’s a real scene.

The PGA is serious business. It is well run, as extremely well educated and well heeled men trip over themselves to be a “Hole Marshall” and shush other well heeled men with too many Mich Ultras in their belly by the Seventh Green. These are serious men doing serious things. Ah, to be so close to Tiger Woods that you could make some sort of crack about a Waffle House waitress… It’s exciting. (Side note, I was so close to Tiger I could have whispered something terrible to him, and he would have heard it. He also could break me in two. That guy is fucking ripped. Someone check him for steroids already. Or have the Detroit Lions sign him as a nickleback.)

No one is allowed to use their phone on the course, lest these heroes be distracted while playing. As has been written before by everyone else, if the Duke point guard can hit a free throw while 20,000 people scream insulting things about his scrotum, I would think Phil Mickelson can deal with a camera phone as he hits a drive. But this is a gentleman’s game, and decorum must be observed. It is what separates us from the beasts. And separates us from those that serve us our Michelob Ultras in the VIP tent.

The golf culture has always been odd to me. It’s like it is exempt from all other social norms. For example, what other activity could you participate in during work hours like that and not be immediately fired with complete dishonor? It is no problem whatsoever for a sales guy to take out someone loosely considered a “customer” and spend 5 hours knocking a ball around while knocking back beers. “We’re not dicking around in a golf cart! We are building relationships!” However, what if that same sales guy went to his management and said, “Hey Terry, I am going to have Jim and Steve from Consolidated Logistics over to my brother’s basement this afternoon. We’re going to smoke some weed, listen to Social Distortion CDs and play some Madden 2011. Late.” That guy would be driving home with the shit in his desk in a box. But isn’t it really the exact same thing?

It all goes back to The White Middle Manager Conspiracy. Suburban white guys love Michelob Ultra, eating at Friday’s, college football, giant wristwatches, Jennifer Anniston, sport utility vehicles, Bruce Springsteen, Cabo San Lucas, and believing they could have intercourse with their regular waitress at their favorite corporate sports bar. But there is nothing these men love more than golf. Nothing. Golf has it all. There’s tons of gear to buy and compare with their buddies gear. It also gives these men their only opportunity to escape from their dreary lives and be by themselves for a few hours. It also doesn’t hurt that it is played in generally beautiful outdoor surroundings in great weather. Best of all, it is cost prohibitive so others below them in the social strata can’t come crash their party. I didn’t see a lot of saggy jeans and sideways ball caps at the Atlanta Country Club last week… No friend, at the Atlanta Country Club, we are all The Same. This is The Secret to golf. If you golf and can afford the country club dues, you are in The Club. You are One of Us.

I should have taken up golf years ago. I know the lingo. Maybe I can bluff my way through by just talking a good game, and never having to actually go out for hours on end and knock balls into various woods and bodies of water. The problem for me always comes into play that even dressed in J. Crew finest, I am quickly flushed out as Not One of Us. But still, I went to the gift shop. It was hot out there, and the sun was brutal. I got myself a $35 logo hat. I referred to a sand trap as “the beach”. I called a golf club “a stick”. I called Phil Mickelson “Lefty”. Maybe I can pull this thing off. Maybe now, in the right light, I can pass as one of The Boys. Who wants to go play Firestone?


At August 17, 2011 at 11:32:00 AM EDT , Blogger Cannon said...

You are already on your way to infiltrating the secret "society". The two down sides to Golf; The struggle isn't against an opponent,or even the course.It is internal. Remaining calm after shanking a rudimentary drive, not loosing your shit after missing a three foot putt...twice. This where the real game is. The mental stregnth to cope and the tenacity to finish the round with as much dignity as you can muster. The other downside is,of course,the clothes.


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