A recent study proved something that most of us either knew already or could have figured out: people who have smartphones spend more time on the toilet than people who don’t. Not long ago, I discovered another bathroom-stay-prolonger: the latest edition of "Decisions on the Rules of Golf."
"Decisions" is a heavily annotated version of golf’s rule book, published every other year, in which the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews attempt to “clarify matters that may not be entirely clear” from the rules themselves, based on issues they've adjudicated for golfers and rules officials. For example: “Is a worm, when half on top of the surface of the ground and half below, a loose impediment which may be removed? Or is it fixed and solidly embedded and therefore not a loose impediment.” Answer: It’s a loose impediment, and you may remove it. (Decision 23/8)
Reading "Decisions" makes you appreciate the challenge that rules officials face. It also painlessly increases your knowledge of the rules while providing an agreeable exercise in schadenfreude: “After a player putts, the flagstick attendant removes the flagstick and a knob attached to the top of the flagstick falls off. The knob strikes the player’s moving ball and deflects it. What is the ruling?”
You can easily picture the situation: the clumsy moron tending the flag; the brilliant 50-foot putt that would have dropped if the detached knob hadn’t struck it; the ensuing screams. And the answer is that the knob, once it broke off, became an outside agency rather than a part of the flagstick, so the player incurred no penalty under Rule 17-3a. Instead, “the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced.” (Decision 17/9)
Here’s one more: “A player misses a shot completely and, in swinging his club back, he accidentally knocks his ball backwards. . . . If the ball comes to rest out of bounds, how does the player proceed?”
The answer is in Decision 18-2a/22, but you’ll have to look it up yourself. You can do that by ordering a spiral-bound paper copy for your own bathroom, or by consulting the online (and easily searchable) version of the "Rules and Decisions," on the U.S.G.A.’s website.
By David Owen
Usually, the “tee gift” you receive for playing in a golf tournament is something you either don’t want or already have a dozen of, like a bag that isn’t the right size or shape to hold anything you want to carry in a bag, or a vest. Of all the tee gifts I’ve been given over the years, just three stand out: a Club Glove carry-on suitcase, from my brother’s member-guest (now sadly broken); a belt with a beer-opener buckle, from my own member-guest, which is almost the only belt I ever wear; and a Hydro Flask water bottle, from a local tournament last year:
Several of my friends also played in the same tournament and received the same water bottle, and they love it, too. It holds 24 ounces and has a screw-on top with a ring thing in it. I like mine so much that I recently bought a second one, just for coffee. It holds 18 ounces and has a wide-mouth with a “flip lid,” for sipping:
As of this week, I own a third, a 32-ounce model, for carrying water on really hot days. It’s big, but it fits in the beverage pocket on my golf bag, and I got it with both a regular screw-on top and a “straw lid,” which lets me drink from it like a baby bottle:
If I hadn’t quit drinking alcohol a decade ago, I would immediately buy a fourth Hydro Flask, called the Growler, which is even bigger, and holds 64 ounces of beer:
There are several guys at my club who could really use Growlers. If men ever bought presents for other men, I might get them one, if only to prevent them from doing what they do now, which is to fill old beer bottles with new beer from the Kegerator in the clubhouse storeroom and carry them in their golf bags. They use old beer-bottle tops to reduce spillage:
Among the appealing features of all my Hydro Flask bottles are the finishes, which are tough and non-glossy. They also come in great colors. And unlike the black finish on my four Thermos coffee mugs (which, because of their shape, inevitably pop out of the cup-holder on my pushcart) they don’t chip off:
I love all three of my Hydro Flasks. A golfer would pretty much have to be crazy, I think, to carry a liquid in anything else. There are lots to choose from:
In the air, I looked down, through breaks in the clouds, on the fjord-like creases that rumple Scotland’s west coast and on the waters of the Minch, the stormy channel that separates the Outer Hebrides from the Scottish mainland. The only other passengers were the day’s newspapers and two guys accompanying a load of cash for ATMs in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, where we stopped first. Here are the newspapers, in containers belted into the seats:
In 2008, I took a ferry from Oban, which is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow. The ferry sails three or four times a week and makes a brief stop at Barra, another island. I actually could have flown to Barra, although the flight schedule depends on the tides, because Barra's runway is a beach:
The South Uist ferry trip takes about six and a half hours in good weather. We passed the islands of Mull, Coll, Muck, Eigg, Rum, Sanday, Sundray, Vatersay, Hellisay, Gighay, and Stack, among others. We also passed this lighthouse, on a tiny island called Eilean Musdile. It’s just off the shore of a larger island, called Lismore, which has a population of 146. The lighthouse was built in 1833:
Until 1974, cars on the South Uist ferry had to be loaded and unloaded with a crane, like freight; nowadays, you drive on and drive off. The ferry docks in Lochboisdale, a few miles from Askernish:
The original course at Askernish was laid out in 1891 by Old Tom Morris. At some point, probably during the Second World War, most of Morris’s holes were abandoned, and until roughly a decade ago they were essentially forgotten. Since then, a plausible version of the old course has been restored, by a group that included Gordon Irvine, a Scottish golf-course consultant; Martin Ebert, an English golf architect and links-course specialist; Mike Keiser, the founder of Bandon Dunes; and Ralph Thompson, who used to be the manager of the island’s main agricultural supply store and now works full-time as the golf club’s chairman and principal promoter. Here are Irvine and Ebert, discussing the routing in 2008:
I had always known that my roots were in the west coast of Scotland. Although my paternal grandparents came from the Glasgow area, I was aware that the Currie DNA was scattered along the coastal shores north of Glasgow. (Apparently, my ancestors slept around.) Other than that, I had little family history to go by. In 2011, Ralph Thompson mentioned that a Robert Currie had traveled to South Uist from New York to meet with the local council about erecting a memorial cairn acknowledging the contribution of Clan Currie to the cultural development of the island. I was present at the dedication of the cairn, in 2012:MacMhuirich was our original name centuries ago. And here’s a shot of my opportunistic wife, Liz, who never could resist a handsome man with his own whiskey bottle. Actually, the handsome man is Alasdair Macdonald, the owner of the croft where the cairn was erected:
If you visit South Uist, drive carefully. Most of the roads are single-lane, and you have to share them.The initial six holes at Askernish can cause one to question what the fuss is all about. They are certainly quite nice, but nothing unusual or special. However, the WOW factor kicks in as you climb the dunes from sixth green to seventh tee and you stand there gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, but I wasn’t about to allow that to happen, at least until I finished my round!
Rangefinders, Ivan Lendl, lawyer feet, a lazy 30-year-old, a hole-in-one, and vegan burgers for dinner
That evening, my wife, Ann Hodgman -- who has written several cookbooks, and is currently writing one for strict vegetarians -- made vegan burgers for dinner. They contained chick peas, barley, leeks, and other stuff. (That's the mixture, in the photo above.) They didn’t taste like burgers made from beef, but I liked them. And when I got home from playing golf the next morning I ate two more of them, right out of the fridge.
By David Owen
We had 30 guys on Sunday, which was both Father’s Day and the final round of the U.S. Open. Thirty is a record for us, so we took a photo:
We chose teams the way we always do, by drawing numbered poker chips from a hat, but we had only 24 chips, so we had to fudge things. That evening, at home, Rick made us 6 more.
I was on the lookout for guys who hadn’t been able to play because it was Father’s Day -- a sore point for me -- but according to my informal investigation there was only one: young Dr. Mike, who was said to be absent for reasons related not only to Father’s Day but also to his wife and tennis. Reese and Addison weren’t there, either, but they (along with Addison’s brother, Harris, who works in the golf shop part-time) were in Pittsburgh visiting their father/grandfather, also Reese, who is 92. He can’t play anymore, but he rode in the cart while his son and grandsons played, so no one missed any golf:
Addison and Harris’s other grandfather is also a golfer. In fact, he was the No. 1 player on the golf team at Wake Forest at a time when the No. 2 player was Arnold Palmer. His name is Ray, and he still plays. Here's what he looked like in his prime:
Because Sunday was the final day of a major, the Sunday Morning Group used the scorecard from the course where the major was being played, Pinehurst, instead of our own. I won a skin on No. 18 because on the Pinehurst card I get a stroke on that hole, and the stroke turned my miracle eagle (approach shot into the hole) into a miracle net hole-in-one.
So good for me. (Pinehurst, like a number of clubs, assigns handicap stroke indexes in a dumb way, and I will write about that at some point.) This coming Sunday, we’ll be back to using our very own, brand-new Sunday Morning Group scorecard. It was designed mainly by Hacker (real name). Here he is, studying a proof:
Our new card is much smaller than our old card -- just 3.25 by 5 inches once it’s folded in half -- but it has enough spaces for a tensome, or for a fivesome playing five simultaneous games:
The cards were created for us by PrintWorks, a small graphic-design and printing shop in the next town. This is Doug, who runs the shop with his mother. He cheerfully put up with dozens of picky last-minute design changes:
Doug gave us such a good deal on our scorecards that everyone who reads this should be sure to have something printed at PrintWorks this year, to ensure that they’ll still be in business the next time we need scorecards, business cards, letterheads, envelopes, flyers, brochures, posters, postcards, or any of the other stuff they specialize in. (Doug also printed waterproof scorecards for us, for rainy days, and I’ll tell you about those soon.) Our new scorecards have our rules printed right on the back, for easy reference:
Incidentally, that record score, at the bottom of the card, is nine over par net. No one in SMG history has ever played worse.