CALGARY, Canada -- Sometimes traditional golf is boring. Everyone's well aware of the procedure. Grab a ball, peg it up, lash at it, find it, lash at it again, say a bad word, put it in the hole, pencil down your nine, blow a blood vein on the way to the next tee and then do it 17 more times.
Nothing much deviates from this pattern. Of course, it's still kind of fun, but it's lacking something. It's like barbecuing without barbecue sauce, fishing without a cigar, or sitting on the pot without something to read. Enter some creative deviations from traditional golf that will get you screaming in utter joy (or screaming in unrelenting pain) at how much fun the game can be.
A little warning before we begin: The games I'm about to enlighten you with can be dangerous to the point of being deadly. I assume no responsibility if hardship befalls you as you willingly participate in the forms of play described below. This, as they say, is "golf at your own risk."
Also, many golf courses will, without hesitation, issue a lifetime ban on your playing privileges if you attempt to play these games on their property. It's always best to get written permission before you do anything. Or, at the very least, know how to run really, really fast.
Prince Charles, eat your heart out. There is nothing "Royal" about this game -- just lots of hootin', screamin' and a dang-blasted good time.
The Rules: Competitors must play the entire round of golf while seated in their power cart. All shots must be taken with the buttocks touching vinyl -- including tee-shots, playing from hazards, and putting.
The Drawbacks: High-profile golf courses generally don't take a liking to skid marks on their greens.
Suggestions: Buy your own course and start a league. Sand greens are less expensive and easier to maintain when faced with high volumes of powercart traffic on the putting surfaces.
Grab your black hat, suit, and suspenders. Now run to the barn and fetch your shovel, hoe, and sickle. It's time to play golf -- Menno style!
The Rules: No golf clubs permitted. Only farming tools can be used. Nothing motorized and penalties for war-like behavior.
The Drawbacks: Inevitably somebody starts dancing after a making a good shot, which thereby constitutes disqualification of the contestant (dancing, of course, is not only sinful, but vehemently prohibited in this form of play).
Suggestions: Call the whole thing off and head to the farmhouse for perogies, pork fat and a few shots of dandelion wine.
This one turns the traditional "Texas Scramble" from a paddlewheel cruise on the Mississippi into a perilous, white-knuckled, free-fall over the Niagara Falls with a paddle boat.
The Rules: Players are blindfolded as partners bark out aiming instructions. One ball per team. Partners alternate being blindfolded at the start of every hole, and after that it's a flat out race to complete 18 holes the fastest. Needless to say, there is no "honor" system. Just "ready, set, go!"
The Drawbacks: This game has been known to be a catalyst for altercations with other foursomes on the course.
Suggestions: While it is unlikely anyone will escape uninjured, the chances of serious injury or death can be reduced by wearing R&A approved helmets.
Whether you're a golf traditionalist or tattooed hippie willing to dabble in various forms of play, the game of golf is supposed to be fun. Get out there and make it enjoyable!
Now all you need is a good insurance plan loaded with liability and personal injury protection. I keep a copy of my policy in my golf bag (conveniently stored in the same side pocket as my blindfold and detachable rubber grip, which slides effortlessly onto most sickles).
December 5, 2002
Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout North America and Europe. You can see more of his work at www.andrewpenner.com.
We all love golf course rankings, but there's quite a bias involved, huh? Host a major championship and you're basically guaranteed a spot on the list. What about the average duffer who's more impressed with the beer list than the slope/rating - or prefers friendliness over the fine, imported lotion in the locker room? Where's our list, hackers? Answer: Right here.
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