(Tommy Smokes pictured left, Tiger Woods pictured right)
This weekend, I went golfing for the first time in my life. I've been to the driving range plenty times before. I've been mini golfing plenty times before. I've been with Dave on a couple of the most legendary golf courses in the world (Shinnecock and Pebble Beach) as he won the US Open. But I have never played a full round myself. Until now.
I went to Connecticut with a bunch of college friends for a 16-man scramble tournament, broken up into 8 teams of two. 18 holes on Saturday. 9 holes on Sunday. Best combined score over the two days wins. We were paired up based on skill. Now this may shock you, but I was the #16 seed. I was paired up with the #1 seed who was very good and basically a scratch golfer. But I had the honor of having my own rule named after me! Unlike in a typical scramble, the "Tommy Smokes Rule" stated that at least one of my shots had to be used on each hole. If it wasn't, it was a one stroke penalty. So there were a few times where my partner birdied a hole, but just my presence alone cost us a stroke and kept us at par. The ideal strategy for us was for me to hit a decent enough drive where my partner could essentially just play out the hole himself. Or for him to set me up for a tap in putt. Overall, we shot an 82 on Saturday, and finished +1 on Sunday through 9. It was good enough for second place. A silver medal my first time ever golfing ain't too shabby. But I was also the living embodiment of the meme "When you do nothing for a group project and still get an A."
I would rate my overall performance as bad, but maybe not as bad as I thought I would be. I made some progress throughout the weekend and with enough practice, I think I can get to a point where I'm competent enough to not single handedly hold up groups and shoot like a 200. I feel like I probably would have shot north of a 150 this weekend if I played a full 18 myself. But with more improvement, I think a 120-130 could be in sight eventually, and honestly I'd sign up for that.
The most important thing from the weekend is that I learned a lot about golfing and proper golf course etiquette. Here are some of my main takeaways.
I am not a natural born golfing phenom
One reason I've never gone golfing before is I liked the fact that I didn't know for sure I was bad yet. Most people go golfing, they stink, and they know they're not making the PGA tour. For me, that dream was still alive. There was a chance that I was just born with natural, God given golf ability. It was unlikely of course, but it was possible. I told myself that if I never go golfing, then I could cling onto that glimmer of hope forever. Well after 27 holes, I can confidently say I will not be winning the 2022 Masters. I'm at least two years away.
Golfing is a good activity for frequent urinators like myself
Given that I can pee up to like 20 times a day, I pretty much have to worry about the bathroom situation before any activity I find myself doing. That was a concern for me playing a full 18 over 4-5 hours while drinking, until I found out that basically the whole course is a bathroom. Well not like the greens, but you can just go in the woods on any hole. And for a guy like me who needs peace and quiet in order to get my stream following, a serene golf course is the perfect place. No guy huffing and puffing in a urinal next to me. Just my dick out, a nice breeze, and nobody around me but bushes and trees.
Driving is the easiest part of the game
If I had to pick one part of my game that was the least terrible/showed the most improvement, it would be my drives. Now don't get me wrong, I had my fair share of shanks, dribblers, and straight up misses. But after getting some tips from my partner about keeping my eye on the ball, my swing, and having my penis point towards the target on the follow through, I made progress. I could strike the ball decently well, but most of my drives had a nasty habit of slicing way right. But by the end of the weekend, I was hitting some solid drives straight enough and up to around 200 yards. Nothing to brag about, but a major step up from the 75 foot line drives I used to hit at the range. With a few more adjustments, I could be driving like vintage Tiger.
Irons and wedges are impossible and a waste of time
This was by far the hardest part. There was one hole when I missed the ball like 7 straight times with an iron. And I don't mean I missed it in that I hit a bad shot and "just missed it". I mean I straight up missed the ball and couldn't make contact with it to save my life. Whiff after whiff. Tommy needs a tee. If I could carry around a tee and put it in the fairway/rough, that would be a game changer. But the idea of like getting "under the ball" and "lifting it" and "spanking the grass" and all that shit was just not something I could wrap my head around. Also irons/wedges just look stupid. Where the fuck am I supposed to hit the ball on those things anyway? They're like all slanted and shit. Any time I could avoid using them, I did. There were times I was off the green but just took my putter out and tried to whack it hard enough to get it on there. That's called innovating the game.
The greens move fast .... but also slow
I had slight hope for putting just based on the fact that I've mini-golfed before. That hope went out the window after my first putt attempt.
The greens moved way too fast on that one. Probably also didn't help that I whacked it like I was holding a driver. So I then adjusted and tried hitting it softer. But that sometimes resulted in my club hitting the ground before it hit the ball, ensuing in a putt that was drastically short of the hole. I had a real tough time reading the greens. There were times I thought "oh this one will slope left" when it just clearly ended up sloping right. I also struggled lining myself up with the hole. Got dizzy sometimes moving my head from hole to feet to ball. In total, I think I hit 2 putts on the weekend that were pretty decent and not total gimmies. The feeling of sinking one and hearing the ball rattle around the hole is orgasmic. This is certainly an area for improvement though and I see why people get so angry when putting.
Driving a golf cart is very fun
I am hesitant when operating all moving vehicles, evidenced by me never driving on a highway. So I was a little weary of driving the golf cart and somehow flipping us over on a hill or something. But it turns out driving the golf cart is just a lot of fun. Hit the gas when you want to go. Hit the brake when you want to stop. Don't drive on the greens. Simple enough. Felt like I was a kid riding go-karts again.
Yell out "Sit!" for nearly every shot
This was something I heard a lot of people saying early in the weekend for shots that were landing on the green. By the end of the weekend, I was yelling it for almost every shot. Probably in instances where it didn't even make sense. But I was addicted.
Yell out "That'll play!" for shots that almost certainly will not play
Shanked a shot off the tee that went through the trees, but somehow avoided a creek/out of bounds areas? That'll play. Basically any shot you can find will play.
I had a really bad hot dog
Don't know if this is the case for all golf courses. But on Saturday, I had by far the worst hot dog of my life. Skin peeling off everywhere. Almost impossible to fuck up a hot dog that badly. 0.0 Balls.
It's really hard to see where a ball goes
Some people have "eagle eyes" on the golf course. Well, I had "Daredevil eyes" on the golf course. The second a ball got too far and high in the air, it was a lost cause. Had no clue where it landed. Could barely find them in the grass either. Too much shit out there in nature that could pass for a golf ball. Looking for things is one of my pet peeves. Typically if I can't find something immediately, I give up on it and accuse someone of stealing it. That's harder to do on a golf course. But if I wasn't with a group playing a competition, there's many holes I would've just given up on and taken an "ah close enough" drop with a new ball.
Hole-in-ones aren't that hard
Look, I didn't get a hole-in-one this weekend. I didn't even come close. Nobody I was with hit one either or even had an eagle on a hole. But I just kept thinking that it didn't seem that hard. For me? Nearly impossible. But I feel like they should happen more often. Basically in my opinion, any hole where you can hit the green off the tee can result in a hole-in-one. You just need a couple lucky bounces. If I played golf enough, I feel like I'd run into a hole-in-one eventually.
Golf Twitter is a really nice, supportive place filled with great advice from PGA Tour pros
My first experience with golf Twitter went about exactly how I thought it would go. I've dipped my toes into grilling Twitter before with some pictures of steaks I've made, and I think those are more or less the same exact people who were telling me I should kill myself because of how ugly my golf swing was yesterday. Here are some of the highlights.
Powerful and alpha?
Taking this as a compliment.
All I see is "Looks like Bryson DeChamebeau"
We don't. I will be taking my own life upon completion of this blog.
It's crazy how many PGA Tours moonlight by offering free golf advice behind burner Twitter accounts. There were a lot of other generic comments about how terrible it was. A lot of unsolicited advice. A lot of people who just couldn't believe I shot an 82 with a swing like that. (They don't need to know it was a scramble). But honestly there were was a decent amount of people saying it wasn't so bad for my first time out.
Golfing is fun!
This was really my big takeaway from the weekend. Golfing is a lot of fun. The hungover breakfast sandwich as you rush to the course. The beers as you golf. The camaraderie with friends. The satisfaction of hitting a good shot once every like 4 holes. I see why people do it all the time. It made me completely understand why old guys do it every weekend to get away from their wives. It made me understand and envy Riggs' existence. I now know why Barstool employees launch show after show about golfing. Me vs. Trent vs. Caleb coming soon?