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When it comes to golf banter, I'm never green with envy

February 26, 2004|by ANDY MASON

I don't play golf. Never have and - oh, the horror - maybe never will.

There, I said it. Go ahead and string me up by my non-cleated feet.

But I think I already have suffered enough in this lonely existence of mine. When friends and co-workers share in the camaraderie of the links, I always am left behind.

If I have a social handicap, that probably is it. When talk turns to the greens, I'm trapped in the sand without a wedge.

But I never have viewed myself as a victim of the greater golf community called America. The non-golfing path is one I freely have chosen to walk, even on the days I'd rather have a cart.

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Albeit from a different perspective and approach these days, my passion for sports isn't much different from when I was a playful kid.

Back then, I pretended I was Art Monk as I caught the Nerf football and crossed the imaginary line between the swing set and old tree stump for a backyard touchdown. I was Eddie Murray when I cracked Wiffle balls over the clothesline from both sides of the Frisbee we called the plate. I was a member of Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma hoops fraternity when I practiced fancy layups on the driveway court. And sometimes I was a "cutter" from the cycling movie "Breaking Away" as I cruised through the neighborhood streets on two wheels.

I never once was Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson. To me, those guys just were ordinary men, whose country-club prowess seemingly was something only for mature adults to admire Sunday afternoons on television.

I know, things have changed. In recent years, Tiger Woods' appeal alone has helped bring golf to the masses, crossing socioeconomic and age-group barriers. Tiger is young, hip and in the title hunt most Sundays. If it's a major, sometimes even I will tune in with interest.

But even Tiger putting for a green jacket can't get me overly excited. I need game-saving action, buzzer-beating plays or sprints to the finish line - sweat and athleticism - to get my adrenaline really pumping.

USA Today recently listed Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam as two of the 10 toughest athletes in all of sports, citing their superior physical conditioning. That made me scratch my head.

Especially after John Daly went out and topped Tiger and the rest of the PGA field at the Buick Invitational. Daly, as Associated Press writer Doug Ferguson describes him, is "an out-of-shape, chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, on-his-fourth-marriage, good ol' boy."

Maybe I'm just not American enough to fully appreciate golf.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com.

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