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Tips for 'golf wives' on Father's Day

June 21, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Terry Talbert

I was thinking about Father's Day, and what profound things I could possibly say that were as yet unsaid, when I realized I'm still far too close to my dad's death to talk seriously about him on this day without being sad.

So instead I'm going to try to help the women out there better understand the male golfers in their families, and the foreign language I call "man-speak."

- When men talk about "playing a round", they are not talking about playing around. (At least most of them aren't.) It's important to understand the difference between the two phrases. A "round" consists of several holes of the game of golf.

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- A hole is not an all-consuming bottomless pit that swallows men as they walk or ride a golf course, as much as some women wish it was. It consists of: an area where you tee off, a fairway that may or may not include a water hazard, trees and sand traps, and a green.

- A water hazard is a pond. If the ball goes in it, men try to get it out by using a long handled device with a little grabber on the end of it. Usually they do not succeed. Balls are expensive. They get mad. They also get mad because putting the ball in the pond costs them a stroke. But more about that later.

- One of the basic pieces of golf equipment is a tee. A golf tee is a little wooden object which has a pointy end, and a wider, slightly curved cup-shaped end.

A golf tee is not a toothpick for people with big teeth. It is a ball holder-upper. The golfer pushes the pointy end of the tee partially into the ground, and places a small, hard pockmarked ball on top of it. The golfer then takes out a titanium or wooden (or whatever) club out of a tall, narrow "bag" and beats the heck out of the ball with it.

Actually, the golfer is not supposed to do that. He is supposed to swiftly and gracefully strike the little ball with the head of the club (the other part of the club is called a shaft) in such a way that it lifts cleanly off the tee and flies through the air to a place roughly in the middle of the fairway, or if it is a short hole, onto the green and hopefully into the other, little hole. The little hole is the real one located at the end of the longer big hole.

In other words, you tee off on the long, imaginary hole and eventually hit the pockmarked sphere into the real little hole at the other end. The object is to do that in as few "strokes" as possible.

- A stroke is not an illness. It is one swipe at the ball with a club. At the end of the round, the golfers count the number of strokes it took them to get through all the long holes, and the total is compared with "par for the course."

- Par for the course means the average. Par for many courses is something in the range of 72. What a golfer "shot" is the sum total of a his strokes, so if he says he shot 180, figure he's probably ready to shoot himself.

- Actually, if a golfer ever hits 80, he'll never tell anyone. Not even God. So forget about the above. If he's contemplating suicide, you'll never know it in time to stop him.

- A "course" consists of 9 or 18 holes, depending entirely on the whim of the developer. Why 9 or 18 as opposed to 10 or 20? Ask a man.

If your father or husband is a golfer, there are some points of etiquette you should know:

- Sometimes dumb golfers miss the ball altogether, in which case they beat the ground with their clubs. This is not considered good sportsmanship. Therefore, if you ever see a golfer bend his shaft in anger, you are not supposed to mention it.

- If you ever see a golfer miss the ball, you are supposed to pretend it never happened. You are not to run home and tell the neighbors what he did.

- You are not supposed to talk, giggle, sneeze, wheeze, or belch when a man is addressing his ball. This is considered rude and distracting. If you do that and he misses the ball or hits it mistakenly into the crotch of a tree, he will blame you and you will suffer for days because of it.

- When your husband or father gets teed off, it means he's mad. I have no idea what that has to do with golf. Don't ask him. He'll think you're dumb.

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