The Digest | CloseoutFebruary 10, 2015

Closeout: Golf Sins

Our rabbi helps readers make amends for heinous deeds

Q :There's a real jerk at our club. He's a drunk, rude to the wait staff and is always trying to put down other members. I spoke aloud how I wished there was something I could do to this guy, and a friend told me about a product called Liquid Ass. It comes in a spray bottle, and smells worse than anything you can imagine. One day, when no one was around, I sprayed a few drops into the jerk's bag. The smell didn't dissipate. It ruined his grips, rainsuit, everything. I never intended this level of damage. I want to come clean, but there's no way the guy would forgive us. (Trust me, he's not the forgiving kind.) What should I do?

A :I don't know if I'm qualified to answer because all the forms of ass I know are solid. As tempting as it is to admire your creative providence, your course is clear. You and your complicit fecal terrorists must replace the jerk's bag, rainsuit and grips. You can do it anonymously by leaving an unmarked package in the bag room. In sympathy, I must say that I'm not sure what you do with jerks to unjerkify them. The biggest part of me believes that jerks are irredeemable, and the best course is to steer clear of them. What you could do is slip an anonymous letter into his locker. It might read: Underneath, you're probably a good dude, but many of us at this club aren't seeing that side of you. Everybody here is privileged to be able to play golf and relax in this wonderful place. The staff members work hard, and not for very much, to make our club terrific. They deserve more respect than you show them. Sorry about the Liquid Ass treatment your clubs and bag received. We had no idea that we were using a product that worked exactly as advertised. However, you should know and take it to heart that your bag smelled better than your behavior. Sorry for the embarrassment.

Q :I accepted an invitation from a buddy to play at his club. Later that week, I received another invite from a business colleague to play a course that's ranked in the top 10 of Golf Digest's 100 Greatest. Both were for Sunday morning. I bailed on my buddy, telling him "a work thing came up" and took the better offer. Was it the right decision?

A :The basic rule on ethical issues is that if you have to ask, you know it's wrong. Our instinctive compass points to moral north even though we don't always follow its arrow. You "better dealed" your buddy. This might be OK if he were only an acquaintance. But friendship requires loyalty above all else. You chose a great course over a great friend, and that sucks—and you know it. It also violates the Emily Post etiquette rule that requires honoring an accepted invitation no matter what else comes along. You could have asked your buddy if he would be OK with you playing, not just because of the course but because of the business connection. If he is a true friend, he would have let you off the hook because you can play with him anytime. That way you wouldn't have had to lie to cover your golf smarminess. I once bailed on meeting Mother Teresa so I could play a top track with my son, but I was clear about it to my meet-a-living-saint host.

I still wonder what she was like, but not all that much.

*Rabbi Marc Gellman writes a nationally syndicated column called The God Squad. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has lectured at several prestigious universities. He also campaigned to bring the U.S. Open to Bethpage Black in 2002. Did you do or see something questionable on or off the course? For expiation, send us an email detailing the action at golfsins@golfdigest.com.

We'll maintain your anonymity.*