Last July, on America’s birthday, I was brought to my knees by hubris. I posted a (now deleted) tweet with a screen shot of my improving golf handicap. It was braggadocious and came back to bite me in the fucking dick, for reasons we’ll soon cover. But let’s break for a moment to bring the lay people up to speed:
Golfers can track their ability through a handicap system. They input their scores from each round into a system that then generates an index based on their best scores. This index is important because you use it to handicap a match against a superior or lesser golfer, giving or taking strokes. When you’re playing for money, the handicap is the honor system that you SHOULD abide by (though some lie about their handicap, hence the phrase “he’s a sandbaggin’ son of a bitch.”)
I played a lot of golf last year. An embarrassing amount, honestly. When you’re single, there’s nothing to stop you from spending the entire weekend at the course. I’m talking 18 holes Saturday morning, club sandwich, 18 at twilight, repeat on Sunday. The only lie there is the club sandwich. Three layers of bread? Who the fuck do you think I am, a pigeon? Make it a bed of lettuce topped by a filet of wild salmon and keep the unsweetened ice teas coming. More lemon. More. Don’t look at me, look at the lemon. Do you have a grip strength problem? Fuck’s sake, squeeze that fucking thing. MORE LEMON.
Halfway through the season, my handicap had dropped from 8.6 to 6. That’s a significant leap and I was proud of my progress—so proud that I took a screen shot of my updated handicap and gleefully tweeted it. In the picture, I included my GHIN number. This is like a golfer’s social security number. I thought you needed a password or a retinal scan to log in to my account. But because golfers are older than books, you can log in using just the GHIN # and their last name. Great cybersecurity, guys. No wonder the Chinese decided to come at Trump through his golf course (is that even true? Is that what happened? Who can say. The files are in the computer.)
A couple weeks later, my handicap revision came in. I hadn’t broken par in my entire life and yet somehow, my new handicap was +1. That’s better than scratch. Even with my ego, it made no fucking sense. I logged in to untangle the mystery and saw that twenty or so rounds of 69 at Pebble Beach had been logged. Immediately I knew this was the work of some rogue, some miscreant bent on delegitimizing my golf ability. How did I feel?
I had the club pro delete all the fraudulent scores. Golf clap, sir, you got me. Good prank. Now let’s be gentlemen and move forward with our lives. We were coming in to the club championship, and I needed a real score for qualifying purposes. Goddamn you people, this is golf.
By the way, that scene is absolutely breathtaking. How many takes do you think that took? That beach ball deserves a fucking Oscar. It was so committed.
When the next revision came in, I was back to +1. Same thing. Twenty or so rounds of 69. Now I was pissed.
We went through the same routine as before. The pro deleted the scores, only to see them reappear the next day, like when Tim Allen shaves his beard in The Santa Clause only to watch it immediately grow back, thicker and whiter than before.
These movie gifs are making this blog move.
By this point, I knew we were dealing with the biggest loser on the planet. This kid (I presume) was watching and refreshing my handicap portal on the Metropolitan Golf Association website. The second his work was erased, he put it back up. This was not the work of an employed, insured member of society. This was the handiwork of the most pathetic individual that frequents our website. The KING of the Commenters (the old ones, RIP); the Ruler of the Reddit. This dude was so vigilant about putting scores of 69 into my handicap calculator that I started to wonder if he was watching me. Behind every tree, peeping over every dune, I envisioned him with a laptop, connected via satellite, watching me play golf and giggling to himself. I hated him, and my swing went to shit.
Mercifully, the season ended. The club closed down for winter and I stopped inputting scores. Things were quiet. I dared to believe he might have died or found a job; something to take him away from his anarchical designs. As February turned to March, I couldn’t wait for the course to open, to dust the rust off my swing. My handicap was down to 3.6 by the end of last season, and that’s where the revisions had come in throughout the winter.
But then, like clockwork, I got the latest update this week. Back to +1. He was back at it. This fucking cunt, this maniacal Machiavelli. I wanted to murder him, but there was no way to find him. He was in the shadows.
Left with no other options, and at the end of my fraying rope, I did the only thing I could: I asked my club to change my GHIN number. It was actually super easy. In hindsight, I should have done this ages ago. It’s embarrassing, really.
But now, I’ve got a new GHIN number. And that young boy will have to find a new game. Good luck, you fucking pirate. Enjoy your miserable life. I’ll think of you as I tee off with my legitimate handicap, strolling the fairways on a sunny day.