A Rookie golfer is like the gleaming white Converse sneakers we wore as kids - a little breaking in is needed. You put on those new sneakers, and as soon as you got outdoors and away from your mother, you rubbed some mud into the canvas, then slid into an imaginary base to lay on a grass stain. Without the dirt, those sneakers weren't seasoned. They were not yet our trusted allies.
Rookie golfers have the same urge that kids in new canvas sneakers used to have - to solve the irritating newness problem without delay. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Trust us. If the more seasoned among us could make golfers out of you New Guys just by rubbing you with mud and scraping you around on the grass, we wouldn't hesitate to do it. But as it is, we realize that when you stand on the first tee you're still awash in that special moment a few months ago when your new clubs and clothes were spread beneath the Christmas tree ("To Rick, From Tina". You need help, son. Your rookie season will go a lot smoother if you act on the following advice:
- Win back Tina. It goes without saying that you lost her when you took up the game. Trust us on this one: Sex with a Big Bertha is entirely unsatisfying. You need Tina more than you need golf.
- Golf is so free-ranging, so heroic, so outrageous, comical, and compelling that new players quickly feel a lifelong dedication begin to form. We (grizzled vets) can deal with that, but we'll bust you with a 3-wood if you refer to yourself as a golf addict. Or worse, a golfaholic.
- Resist festooning yourself or your surroundings with "golfy" items. Please commit the following to memory: There is no such thing as golf art, no matter how green the grass or lovely the tree. There are a million golf gadgets, decorations and knickknacks available to a guy who wants to scream, "Look at me, I'm a golfer!" Avoid them.
Golf is not a hobby. It is, um, a sport. Not very strenuous, mind you, but physically demanding an the same.
- What happens when you combine two insidious terms like golf and bumper sticker? "I'd rather be golfing," or "I'd rather be driving a Titleist" bumper stickers. If that doesn't seem stupid to you in and of itself, just be aware that guys who screwdriver trunk lids in dusky parking lots use these stickers to figure out which trunks have expensive golf clubs inside. Serves you right.
- The list of unnecessary golf accoutrements is dominated by a category of Items That Clip On. Nothing should clip on -- not to the bag, the bag strap, the pull cart or the golfer. Are a grown man's mittens clipped to the cuffs of his snow jacket? They are not. So the swivel-hinge insulated drink holder that clamps onto the main shaft of your pull cart is an absolute no-no. Likewise for that ingenious invention, the Gar-Caddy, which wraps your cigar in an anodized brass carrier that attaches to your golf bag. God help us.
- That detachable little button-shaped snap on your golf glove should be removed and tossed in the rubbish. Under no circumstances should it be used as a ball marker, though that's the intention of the manufacturers. Too prissy, not to mention impractical.
- No Observe the bag-tag statute of limitations. The flimsy ones they give you at resorts so the bag-room workers can keep track of your gear are to be yanked as soon as you return home. The regular disks -- the ones with your name in duro-tape installed in that little slot-those are different. Keep them on your bag as long as you wish-but no more than three at a time.
- We do not recommend you send away for name-and-address labels to stick on the shaft of each club. If you go that route, be ready for one of us Veterans (we don't lose clubs because we know the right spots to lay them down) to pick up your wedge and say, "Hey, cool. Personalized naaaaaame stickers..."
- By way of clarification, practice aids are permitted to be bizarre. Why? Because their noble intended function saves them from being just dorky. Anything honestly done in the name of golf improvement is acceptable, especially if done in privacy at home and spoken of in hushed tones, or not at all. Besides, Velcro wrist and arm restraints might be useful should you actually get back together with Tina.
- Kodak moments are okay, but... Overindulging in souvenirs is a rookie golfer's classic mistake, but don't feel shy about capturing moments using a disposable camera. The rule: one picture taken on the final hole. We veterans consider this to be okay. If someone who just made a 12 on a par-3 decides to rip your camera apart in the same manner Bluto abused that folksinger's guitar on the staircase, no whining. Leave that for the tennis crowd.
- Order your ped (ankle) socks through the mail. Peds are those goofy little socks golfers wear with shorts to avoid the odor problems that occur when naked male feet get laced into golf shoes for the day. We don't want to watch you buy them. Get'em from a catalog. If you show up wearing them, we'll just act like they're a natural part of you, like those pink pedal pushers you wore that time in Palm Springs.
- Finally, we on the Veteran's Committee have recently been asked about the acceptability of audiocassettes in the car to help you "creatively visualize" on the ride over to the course. Our preliminary findings: HaHa-Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! You loser. We suggest that on your way to the course you focus on the road, chief.