News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 5, 2012

RUB OF THE GREEN: Enjoying the game after all these years

Bob Arnett
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — When golf is referred to as “The Game for a Lifetime,” you’ve got to believe that description is definitely on target. For example, there is the Danny Williams hunt that converges on the first tee at The  Landing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Many players are in their 70s and retired dentist, Bill Aikin, has seen 92 birthdays.

After choosing teams, the participants play a handicap game based on points; one for a bogie, 2 for a par, 3 for a birdie, 5 for an eagle and 8 for a hole-in-one.

This in no way infers that some outstanding golf is not being played. Earlier in the season Lowell Smith owned a scorecard that included a birdie, an eagle and a hole-in-one, all accomplished during an 18 hole round.

Jim Sutch, an outstanding quarterback for Wiley High School’s football team has been known to fire even par rounds of 72. Others capable of scores in the 70s include Jim Roberts, Mike Gugielmetti, Herm Rassel, Don Jennings, Dick Ballinger, Jerry Long, Dale Henderson and John Deardorff.

Other golfers are Phil Lindeman, Charles Sullivan, Vern Keller, Howard Junker, Jim Engle, Ron Snoddy, Jim Smith, and Claude Sutton.

Several years ago, Claude McCalister was called off the course only to learn he needed immediate open-heart surgery. After a stint in the hospital, he came back shooting mid 70 rounds.

This hunt will never be a hardship on anyone’s billfold with one dollar going to the winning team on the front side, one dollar to the winners on the back, and one buck to the “all the way” winners. Side bets and skins are sometimes played. The contestants often complete their 18 hole rounds in less than four hours.

The Williams group often enjoys a trip to a different course in the area such as Stone Creek located in Champaign, Ill.

• “This course is unfair!” is an often-heard lament on golf courses throughout the land. I’ve always wondered how a course can be unfair when all participants play the same fairways and greens. Don’t blame the course superintendent when something else is the culprit and that culprit is none other than “Mother Nature.”

Perhaps nowhere does that “unfair” word strike a familiar chord as it does when it applies to high school golf.

Consider this scenario, Team A is slated for an 8 a.m. tee time. They play their 18 in bright sunshine without a cloud in the sky. By 1 p.m. clouds have gathered and a steady rain beats down on the team that had the misfortune to draw the wet and soggy afternoon tee time. Golfers call this the “rub of the green.”

Some say that golf was not developed to be a “fair” contest. How about this: a flagstick is set on the left portion of the green. Your opponent hits his shot, which strikes the flagstick and drops into the cup for a birdie. Now, you hit your shot and it too hits the flagstick, but the ball bounces dead left into a pond. In tennis this situation might be called “game, set and match”, but in golf it’s just “rub of the green.”

Some have declared that golf wasn’t invented to be fair, and at times it seems that there are forces working against you. Many vow that the “breaks,” good or bad will even themselves out. I don’t know about that, but I’m sure that if you questioned Greg Norman about luck, the Shark would profess to having little or none throughout his career. I would be the first to agree with him.

• Tip of the week — When getting ready to hit a golf shot relax.  A straight left arm for right-handed players should not be “stiff as a board.” The same is true for the right arm, which will simply fold during the backswing.

Nothing ruins a golf shot like tension. The same is true when holding the golf club. Even the word “grip” should be avoided.

Do you berate yourself on the golf course with “self talk” such as this, “How on earth can you be such an idiot?” or perhaps “Why do you continue to play golf when you know you will never be any good?” or “You are a pitiful golfer.”

When a golfer can replace those negative thought with ones that are beneficial, then that player can often turn his or her game around and positive results my be achieved.

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.