Vail Daily column: Golf is dumb | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily column: Golf is dumb

Warren Miller
Valley Voices

Golf is as dumb as skiing, but you can do it wearing less clothes.

When the Yellowstone Club in Montana was invented, it became the world’s only private ski and golf club. I was very lucky when I got the job to just hang around and ski with potential members, and Tom Weiskopf was chosen to design and build a golf course. When I first met Tom he said he never had a pair of skis on in his life.

I immediately responded by saying that I would trade him ski lessons for golf lessons. Today, Tom Weiskopf owes me about 100 hours of private golf lessons and I lord it over him!

I really enjoyed teaching Tom the fundamentals of skiing, beginning with “the pointy end of the ski goes in the front.”

Tom is about my height and weight before I started to shrink with age and is such a gifted athlete that in a short time we just got to ski together all day long without any lessons.

Riding on the ski lift one day, Tom told me a few interesting facts about golf: There are 27 million golfers in America and only 5 percent of them will ever break 100, and of those 5 percent, only 2 percent of them will ever break 80. Tom then went on to say, “Is it important for you to beat the local banker or any other friend? If not, why bother keeping score? So many people forget that golf is a game, it’s not a competition.”

As a result of Tom’s conversation, I really enjoy playing golf and it doesn’t matter whether I shoot a 46 or 56 for nine holes and let someone else keep score, which most people insist on doing. I just keep track of how many good shots I make — if in fact I make any! Really, 55 strokes is a good day for me! (Though I shot a 46 and am still feeling that glory!)

Some golfers travel the world with a bag full of clubs and a suitcase full of proper clothes, and most golf courses charge a lot more for a round of golf than for a chairlift ticket at a major ski resort. Unlike a ski resort where the bumps and snow conditions are very different every time you visit, a golf course is almost exactly the same each time you play it. About the only thing that changes are the sandwiches in the clubhouses, whether or not you need a caddy or what color the golf carts are.

When you watch golf on television, the pros are slamming the ball out there 300 to 400 yards, while I am lucky if I hit it 170 yards.

Women get to tee off a bit closer to the green than men do, but recently the Professional Golf Association decided to encourage older people to play golf longer and so they provide a gold tee for people over Social Security age. When this new rule was invented, a friend of mine told me that 22 old guys rejoined the golf club and are back enjoying the game, and their wives are glad to get rid of them every once or twice a week.

One day I was playing with a couple of guys who had been playing together for many years, and halfway through the game, I asked George, “Have you ever invited Frank’s wife to your house for dinner?” The reply was, “Is he married?”

We are really lucky living here on our island because we have a very nice nine-hole course with 18 tees and you can play a round for only $30.

There is no sense whatsoever in discussing the purchase price for a set of clubs and a bag to haul them around in, but they are in the same price range as a pair of skis.

My own personal experiences range from a few games in Hawaii on Maui, our island course, the great Yellowstone Club course to one day in nearby Anacortes to play on a totally different golf course. To do that, I have to get in the ferryboat line at least an hour and a half early, then the ferry ride is an hour and a quarter, and once in a while when I go to all that effort, there is a 25 percent chance of rain. After I parked my car and was putting on my golf shoes it started to drizzle. On the third hole there was a pretty-good-sized puddle and as I walked toward my ball, the pretty-good-sized puddle sucked off one of my shoes and I had a cold, muddy sock on that foot the rest of the day.

If you’re a skier, I know you have 1,000 stories about lurching from one ski run to the next, and any golfer who is honest, as most are, has as many lurching stories on a golf course. (It’s kind of like fishing stories, right?)

There are 18 holes on a golf course because when the game was invented, the players usually had a bottle of Scotch with them and there are 18 jiggers of Scotch in a fifth.

Did you know that the Scotch invented knickers? When the game was being invented, players were all wearing kilts complaining about having cold legs halfway through the game. MacGregor’s wife was an entrepreneur so she just sewed off his kilts at the bottom. Then she cut two holes in the sewn-up bottom for his legs.

He looked so different that the spectators started laughing at him. Polite spectators just snickered at how funny he looked in that outfit. Snicker was successfully shortened to knickers and grew in popularity.

In Palm Springs, California, there is a customized maker of golf carts so that they look exactly like the car you drive on the street. You can buy one that looks like a Humvee, an Audi, a Ferrari or a Cadillac. They can even match the color of the car that you drive to work in and quite often they make two identical carts with or without a cold box to keep your lunch in and drinks in.

With all the fancy possibilities, I still enjoy playing here on our island on the nine-hole course and using one of their golf carts that have gas-powered engines.

Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log onto WarrenMiller.net. For information about his foundation, The Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, go to http://www.warrenmiller.org.


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