We were treated like pros by the USGA and the Olympic Club. They shuttled us back and forth between the hotel and the course, and we were able to use every imaginable amenity in the clubhouse: pool, steam room, hot tub, you name it. Everything was complementary except alcohol. We had our own lockers, and our shoes were always polished. The practice facilities were open from 7 to 7 each day, and the range balls were Pro V1xes. I should have just packed my sleeping bag and stayed in the locker room.
So it isn't surprising that New Zealanders have also created the best sunscreen for golfers: GolfersSkin, which is used by a large and growing number of tour pros and caddies. It's sweat-proof, and it isn't greasy, and it doesn't stain golf shirts, and it comes in several forms -- among them, now, a spray, which is especially easy to apply to bare arms and legs. My wife says the non-spray versions smell like "fine coconut cologne"; the spray is coconut-free, and if you use it in combination with insect repellent you can turn your legs into a La Brea-Tar-Pits-style mausoleum for flying and crawling bugs.
I once considered running for President on a platform that had just three planks. I forget what the first two were, but the third involved requiring people to put on their sunscreen at home, before getting dressed. It drives me crazy to see parents waiting until they get to the beach, then smearing the stuff semi-haphazardly on squirming kids who are trying to run to the waves. Applying sunscreen at home is way easier, because you don't have to work around straps or hats or shirts, and nobody is covered with sand yet, and when you're finished you can wash your hands in a sink. Besides, sunscreen works better if you give it time to soak in. And all the same goes for golfers: apply your GolfersSkin on at home, before you put on your favorite golf shirt, rather than ruining your collar and your grips and your glove by trying to do it on the first tee.
At a rich-guy club several years ago, I stopped by the golf shop to buy Pro V1s, and when the assistant behind the counter told me how much they were I said, “Oh, no, just a sleeve,” but -- ha-ha! -- the joke was on me. I bought them anyway, because I didn’t want some kid to think I couldn’t afford $15 apiece for golf balls. During my round, though, I played away from trouble, and I never went for anything in two. And when I got home I moved three slightly beaten-up Pro V1s from my shag bag to my golf bag, because by doing that, I figured, I was cutting my average cost in half.
Recently, my friends and I have been using significantly less expensive balls, called Vice Pro. They were sent to us by Vice Golf, a German company, whose founders are shown in the photo above.
The company has just started selling in the United States, and it's eager to receive the tsunami-like marketing boost that follows any association with the Sunday Morning Group. Vice is the official ball of the German Golf Association, and Vice Pro won a gold rating in Golf Digest’s 2015 Hot List, and Titleist has endorsed the design, in a way, by suing the company (and several others) for copying the Pro V1’s patented dimple pattern.
One of the many lawyers in SMG worked for Callaway during its (successful) lawsuit against Titleist over something similar, and the lawsuit took forever so I know from experience that we won’t have to send our balls back to Germany anytime soon. And that’s a good thing because everybody seems to like them -- and not only because the ones we got have our (unpatented) logo on them. (Vice offers several personalization options.)
Vice balls are sold only online. The ones we got were a great price (free); they’re more expensive if have to pay for them ($35 a dozen for the top-of-the-line Pro balls), but they’re still cheaper than the competition, and they’re even cheaper if you’re willing to order more than one dozen at a time. (If you buy five or more, the price drops to $25 a dozen.) The shipping cost ($7) is the same no matter how many you order -- a further incentive to stock up. Tim has already re-ordered, and as soon as we've got some cash in our slush fund we'll think about adding the Vice logo to our Jagermeister sweatshirts our our Famous Smoke Shop hats.
The British golf-stuff website onlinegolf.co.uk -- which is similar to TGW, Golfsmith, or Edwin Watts -- includes a gadget that lets you compare your earnings with those of the world’s best golfers. You have to convert your salary to British pounds, but once you’ve done that you have access to all sorts of interesting information, including how much you and the world’s best golfers are earning while you fool around at onlinegolf.co.uk.
If you're using your phone and can’t see the embedded link in the paragraph above, go here: http://www.onlinegolf.co.uk/blog/pitch-your-salary-pro-golfers.html
Two teams tied during the Sunday Morning Group’s inaugural outing of 2015, a couple of weeks ago. The playoff format (devised by the Committee) was “foot wedge from the patio to the practice green, closest to the hole.” A foot-wedge shot, to seem realistic, has to be furtive: you can’t look at the ball:
One of the difficulties with the foot wedge is that, if you’re good at it, people assume you’ve used it before, so the best approach is to appear only semi-competent. Meanwhile, lunch was provided by Peter A., who introduced a menu item that will be considered a staple from now on:
You don’t have to cook it, but you can, by dropping it on the grill for a minute or so before moving it to your burger and covering it with cheese.
Last June, I bought a Bushnell Tour Z6 laser rangefinder. It’s not as good at picking up distant targets as my ancient Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 was, but it’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and the battery lasts a long time, and I like it. (I had made myself believe that the PinSeeker was broken, but as soon as the Z6 arrived I discovered that it still worked fine. So I sold it to Kevin for $48 and a ball-marker.)
My only beef about the Z6 is that the eyepiece, which keeps sunlight off the lens while you’re using it and is the thing you turn to adjust the focus, looks solid but is actually a cheap, floppy rubber tube that’s held in place by nothing but some kind of not-very-strong glue. Here’s the eyepiece:
Mine came almost all the way off one of the first times I used it, but I pushed it back on and tried to be careful with it. At some point during a round today, though, it disappeared. Here’s what my Z6 looks like now. You can see a tiny, booger-like remnant of the old glue, over on the lower right:
Has this happened to anyone else? I didn’t handle it roughly, a lesson I learned with my first rangefinder. I just used it while playing golf. And -- Hey, Bushnell! -- what am I supposed to do now? Is my rangefinder still waterproof? Can the eyepiece be replaced? Should I try to trick Kevin into selling me back my PinSeeker?
There are two approaches to turning yourself into a human billboard: the single-logo, less-is-more approach, typified by Tiger Woods (Nike) and Jordan Spieth (Under Armour), and the how-much-personal-surface-area-can-I-embroider approach, typified by Jim Furyk and NASCAR. My friends and I fall into the second category, and, even though by now we have virtually covered ourselves with umlauts (thanks to Jagermeister, the official all-weather intoxicant of the Sunday Morning Group), we haven’t finished selling out.
Recently, we added another major sponsor: Famous Smoke Shop, which sells cigars online, by mail order, and in person (at the company’s headquarters and retail super store, in Easton, Pennsylvania). Famous Smoke is what is known in the business world as a "good fit" with a lot of the guys I play golf with.
Famous Smoke was founded in New York City in 1939 by David and Rose Zaretsky, and it’s owned today by their son Arthur, who, whether he plays golf or not, is now an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group. The company operates several cigar-oriented websites -- not just Famous-Smoke but also CigarAuctioneer (which sells lighters and other accessories) and CigarMonster (which has the coolest golf hats):
When we played at Richter Park two weekends ago, we handed out a bunch of goodies that Famous Smoke had sent us during the courtship phase of our relationship: cigars, hats, shirts, towels, and other stuff. We gave those things to ourselves and also to random strangers, including this guy:
It was like Man Halloween.
Cigars have sort of been in the news recently, because the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will presumably lead eventually to the normalization of relations between American cigar smokers and Cuban cigars. I asked our new friends at Famous Smoke about that, and learned that Arthur Zaretsky believes that an end to the cigar embargo would be good good for Cubans and for his company (and therefore, by extension, for the Sunday Morning Group), but that, for a variety of mostly legal reasons, he doesn’t believe it will happen soon. Even so, he’s optimistic, long-term; he told a local reporter, “I’ve been waiting 45 years to sell Cuban cigars.”
Recently, someone told me that when the pros sell out they do it for money, not just for hats and shirts with awesome logos on them. Whoa! Maybe we'll work on that next.