Joy, comedy, frustration, obsession — we must be talking about golf

A neighbor recently stopped by to give me a book he thought I might like. It was titled “Golf In The Comic Strips” and it included a “Fore” word by Bob Hope. The late, great entertainer used all the terms from the above headline in his look at the game. In fact he suggested that his true profession was golf, he only told jokes to pay his green fees.

The book pictured comic strips from many years ago as well as more current ones. I vaguely remember some of the older strips. Perhaps you will recall some of these classic comics: Moon Mullins, Gasoline Alley, Joe Palooka, Steve Roper and Dick Tracy. Others included Beetle Bailey, Archie (yes, the one with Jughead and Veronica), B.C. and the Wizard of Id. More current strips such as Ziggy, Blondie and the Born Loser showed up as well. There were more, including some I perused for the very first time.

All of them had something to do with the game of golf. Most of them dealt with one of the above emotions. They were all funny and yet very true. Let’s take a look at the subtleties of this great game that make it great fodder for cartoonists the world over.

If you have played this game more than once, you have likely experienced uncontrolled joy at something you did. It could have been a booming drive, long and straight and down the middle, making you think you are – insert your favorite professional here – or even better. Maybe it was a staked iron shot or holing that 60-footer with a double break. When it happens, the feeling is incredible.

Of course you would be hard pressed to find a sport where funnier things happen. I recall one time playing in a foursome where a dog sat behind the tee watching as the first three of our guys hit. When the fourth member of the group started his downswing, the dog barked. We had no idea where the ball went and couldn’t believe the dog did that after sitting quietly for the first three shots.

We gave the guy permission to hit another shot and it was, in the words of Yogi Berra, dj vu all over again. I swear the dog did it again. We couldn’t stop laughing the rest of the round.

Maybe the funniest thing I have ever seen on a golf course took place at Clinton Heights. Teeing off on the 10th hole behind the clubhouse, a golfer hit a line drive that hit the trunk of a tree so solidly that we all ducked not knowing where the ball went. Soon we heard it hit on the roof of the clubhouse. It then rolled down the roof into the spouting. We could hear it head for the corner of the spouting where it started its final descent. The spouting went directly into the ground. Like the 18th hole on many putt-putt courses the ball could not be retrieved.

At least three of us thought it was hilarious!

Another feature of the game of golf is the fact that you will get frustrated at times. The same guy that made the 60-foot putt may three-putt from 15 feet on the very next hole. Do not stand too close to this guy as he may very well blister your ear if not hurl a putter through the air. We’ve all been frustrated to the degree that we use drunken sailor language or find the need to toss something.

One of my buddies took his 7-iron that hit a ball in a direction he did not like over to his golf bag. He then proceeded to strike the bag several times with the offending piece of equipment. It was not until the round was over and he reached in his bag for his watch that he realized that he had smashed it into several pieces. He can laugh about it now though he does tend to frequently ask others what time it is.

Most of my golfing pals have a phrase that we use when frustration sets in.

We say: “I think I will take two weeks off – then quit.”

In fact I heard the phrase on the course today. We don’t really mean it though. We will be back.

I heard a man make the following statement after a disappointing round of golf: “The only way I am going to play golf after I retire is if I miss the frustration of work.”

I assume that he was just joking, but I’m not so sure about the guy in the next story.

It seems four fellows were playing a round at Lakeland Golf Course when one of the golfers hit yet another poor shot. He remarked that he had had enough of this cursed game. He then walked over to a nearby pond and tossed his clubs – bag and all – into the drink. He then stomped off the course heading for the parking lot.

His playing partners were speechless. Finally one of them said, “he’ll cool off and be back.” Sure enough, five minutes later here comes the guy. He walks over to the pond fishes out his golf bag and unzips a pocket. He grabs his car keys, tosses the rest back into the water and takes off again.

I’m guessing the man never has played the game again.

Despite the frustrations the game delivers to us, we go back again and again. We can’t help it. Most golfers are obsessed with the game. A comic strip that I saw just recently proves my point.

In the strip two fellows are in a golf cart leaving the 18th green. In the first frame the passenger laments: “I don’t think I have ever had a worse experience on the golf course. I could not drive the ball straight, couldn’t make a putt, lost three balls and tweaked my knee on a shot out of the rough.”

The second frame found the driver of the cart complaining as well: “I had two triple bogeys, barely broke 100 and spent most of the day trying to get out of sand traps. It was miserable.”

Then the third frame. One of the guys says: “So, do you want to play again tomorrow?”

“Of course!”

Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune’s golf columnist.

Read his blog at: