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Adopt a Hacker, Or Golf from the Hacker's Perspective

By Martin Ruffner,

Golf is a dignified, relaxing, and challenging way to spend a morning or afternoon, or at least it can be. For those times when it is not I am suggesting adoption. Adoption in the sense of gently informing the undignified, offensive and ignorant golfer of their errant ways. This can be done at the driving range, clubhouse or on the green, and perhaps you only do this once a season. What the impact may be overall is a kinder, gentler round of golf.

I am not suggesting dispensing advice, no there is too much of that already. How many times a well-intentioned golf partner dispenses worthless advice on the course, no if you did not bring it with you, you will not find it on the course.

I am suggesting to starters, rangers and PGA professionals to adopt a hacker. To insure they either commit to the sport or never return to the fairway choking up the course with 5-hour rounds.

How many times have you passed the hacker on the practice greens who is banging his drives right and left, chunking his chips and dragging his spikes? I have been that golfer, the toe of my first drive has the only wear spot on the club, my seven iron needed reshafting after banging a terrible chunk, my son laughing out loud as the head of the club flew down the practice green. I saw the pro, the rangers and starter and I know they saw me, never once did they offer a card or suggest a lesson. A little sales and marketing here would have saved us all some major grief, because where I went next was to the golf course.

I approached the starter who seemed to have the disposition of one with a severe prostrate problem. I mean I thought golf was fun, not even a smile. A bit of PR here gentleman please. It seems that this would be the first place to insure that everyone knows that you better be golfing at a reasonable pace or go back to step one. Just one word here to a hacker is invaluable, again the PGA pro card offering lessons or maybe a flyer if you take more than 8 shots to the green call PGA pro Hugh Needham. Throw in a golf shirt or shoes discount. We will all be happier.

On the course make the ranger the PR guy for good golf. Most of these guys look like they are suffering from the same plight as the starter or worse they have a case of hemorrhoids. For the guy who is beating the bushes looking for a ball, just give him one, all rangers have balls rolling around in the cart, and then throw in the flyer about keeping pace and the lessons with the discounted shirt and shoes. Kill these hackers with positive reinforcement.

For the couple that plays too slow offer to have a cart brought out for them and maybe gives them a cheesy free golf course logo watch. At first people will think its cool until word gets around that only the slowest of players get a free watch. Let the peer pressure do your job. Hey put it on the flyer, the one with the lessons and discounts and such, in small print, only the slowest golfers get the cheesy logo watch.

For the guys that starts with more than 4 beers per cart have a tag mounted on their cart. The beverage person will recognize them and avoid them as a precaution against slow play. Perhaps have some 12-step napkins printed with course logo special for these types.

Where did I come up with this stuff? I was that hacker. I wore sneakers with the socks pulled up on my calves; I carried a tournament bag with a one-foot span and enough space for 50 clubs and a case of beer. I shagged balls, took more than 8 shots to find the green, cursed and talked while my partners were in their back swings. I took great pride in calling across to the next tee as my friends there were also in their backswings. I even enjoyed finding other players balls on the fairway and claiming them as my own.

It all stopped when I was adopted. My PGA mentor was 8 years my junior, my brother-inlay. I learned more by his code of ethics and what he didn't say than what he did say which if you know Tim isn't much.

For my birthday he bought me a bag after seeing the behemoth I lugged around. The nest year a pair of golf shoes at which point he kindly suggested I not pull up my socks but rather fold them down.

When in Florida he took me courses you could not play if you were not properly attired. He suggested we play the Palms and after losing 12 balls on 9 holes he suggested I play the ladies tees. He wasn't sarcastic only realistic. That is when I became committed to learning the game.

He cured my slice, gently told me that grounding my club in the sand was a 2-stroke penalty and only commented on the good shots I made.

My best game was an 86 shot up in Monticello, Minnesota, I am not a great golfer but I know now when to pick up, shut up and play. I play with Titleist irons and a Callaway driver with a vast array of shirts and hats to at least look the part. My point is I could have been less of a detriment to the rest of our golfing community if I had been adopted earlier. I have played around of 9 holes in 45 minutes, it was raining and no one else was out but it can be done. Let's all work to speed up play and enjoy the game.

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