October 5, 2008

Shooting Your Pants

My friend Bernie shot his age recently -- a tremendous accomplishment for an 80-year-old. But Chick, who is half his age, came fairly close to doing something even more impressive. He shot 38 on the front nine and, therefore, as Tim pointed out, had a rare opportunity to shoot his pants -- waistband on the front, inseam on the back. Chick is very tall, so this was remotely possible, even though he usually scores in the mid-to-upper 80s. Golf being what it is, he ended up playing the back nine in closer to his sport coat -- the result, primarily, of shooting his hat size on a couple of par 4s.

If you count handicap strokes, playing a round in "even pants" is a reasonable goal for many golfers, because waist size tends to vary directly with Handicap Index. The two members of my club who are the most likely to turn in low-gross scores, Addison and Kevin, are 17 and wear 30-inch belts. Playing 18 holes in net Dockers is as challenging for them as it is for my contemporary Billy, whose gut gives him what looks, on paper, like an overwhelming advantage. As for myself, I've often been under pants, gross, on our front nine, but have never shot my inseam on the back, a consequence of being tragically long-waisted for a golfer of my height and handicap.

If you count handicap strokes, playing a round in 'even pants' is a reasonable goal for many golfers.'

My father, who was a stockbroker, used to reckon par the way they do in the bond market, at 100. To him and his friends, "five under" meant 95; "three over" was 103. Even with that generous scoring system, he had trouble getting into red figures. I took up the game late, in my mid-30s, and when my brother, who had been the captain of his high school and college golf teams, saw me hit a weak slice with a 5-iron, shortly after I'd started playing, he said, "You're already the second best golfer in the family." My brother, incidentally, has shot his pants many times, despite being cursed with a 34-inch waistline.

I've lost a good bit of weight recently and therefore face a dilemma that I might never be able to explain to my wife. I've had to add new notches to all my belts to keep my pants from falling down when I swing and could easily drop down to a smaller waistband. But I haven't gone shopping yet -- not only because I'm not convinced that the change is permanent but because I'm unwilling to give up the dream.