My Favorite Excuse
GEORGE FULLER By
tage at position-oriented Secession.
On the seventh hole, as I was walking up the fairway asking him some question or other, his caddy pulled me aside.
“excuse me,” he said, “but Mr. Carnevale has asked that
you not speak to him while he’s playing.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“He feels that you’re distracting him, and that’s why
he’s not playing well.”
“Oh, I see,” I said with a grunt, and soberly stared at
him the balance of the day, which didn’t seem to help his
wayward game either. He still stunk the place up.
In the bigger scheme of things, I can relate to his need
to reason away his poor play. We’re all so much better
than our scores indicate, aren’t we? So in the spirit of good
reasons for bad play, I offer herewith a few of the best and
most pathetic excuses I’ve heard recently. I’m sure there
are a million more, and I’d love to hear yours. In the meantime, try a few of these on your foursome next time out:
“In the end, the
vanished socks I
can live without;
but the missing
golf swing drives
me bonkers. The
Golf is a fickle game. One day you’re Tiger Woods, swinging like a pro and shooting the score of your life. The next, you’re in the woods, shanking every club in
the bag, including your putter…and that’s hard to do!
From the absolute top of the world we plummet to the
basement of golf hell, all in the span of 18 holes. Wither goest
thou, o sweet golf swing of mine? As far as I’m concerned,
the two greatest mysteries of life are: 1) the capricious nature
of the golf swing and; 2) socks that disappear in the dryer.
I’ve now spent slightly more than half a century investigating these conundrums, and in that lengthy time
discovered no trail or clue that might shed light on either
puzzle. In the end, the vanished socks I can live without;
but the missing golf swing drives me bonkers. The mystery remains impenetrable.
Or is it? It occurred to me the other day that perhaps
I was looking for answers in the wrong place all these
years. My revelation came on the ninth tee box of my
home course, just after my wife topped her drive 20 yards
semi-forward into a patch of deep rough.
“Can you guys shut up when I’m about to hit?” she
asked, none too lovingly, of me and my brother.
“Sorry,” we replied in unison, sheepishly turning to get
back in our carts.
When she chunked her next shot 15 yards forward into
another thick scrap of spinach—with me and my brother com-
pletely silent—she said, “The sun was in my eyes. I’ll pick up.”
And it occurred to me that she was absolutely right. How
could she possibly have hit that shot when the sun was in
her eyes? What in the name of Beetlejuice was the course
architect thinking when he designed that blasted hole? I
mean, c’mon…the sun shines most every day, right…duh,
can’t you angle the hole a different direction???
judging from the avalanche of excuses—some plausi-
ble, most not—that I’ve heard from golfers over the years,
there seems to be a reason for every slice and hook, every
whiff and dribble, every chunk and top.
From the best pros to the average golfer, we have a raft
of excuses at the ready. To hear most of us talk, we personally have very little to do with our inconsistencies on
the course. It’s someone talking in our backswing; it’s the
sun in our eyes; it’s our mismatched socks; it’s our playing
companion being too friendly.
This latter justification—your playing partner is too damn
friendly—is my favorite excuse of all time. Case in point: I was
playing a round with a lesser-known PGA Tour professional
named Mark Carnevale a few years ago, and somehow, by
being excessively friendly, I apparently ruined his career.
We were at Secession Club, in Beaufort, SC, just before
the Heritage Classic in nearby Hilton Head. Carnevale
was an alternate trying to get into the tournament field,
and was interested in playing a practice round to stay
sharp and hone his game in case he got the call to play.
Through sloppy negotiations with his caddy at the local
margarita bar the previous evening, he had consented to
join my group. Carnevale’s resume included but one win, at
the 1992 Chattanooga Classic, but since that is one more
than I can claim on my resume, he was a celebrity to me.
Although to him it may have been a practice round to
stay tournament-fresh, I had lots of questions: about his
playing routine, his pending endorsement deal, about his
experiences trying to make it big on Tour. In other words, I
was being friendly.
I was actually playing fairly well that day, and thoroughly enjoying myself. Carnevale, conversely, was
spraying the ball around the course, was in the marshland often, and soon became oddly quiet. He hit the ball
a mile, to be sure, but that is not necessarily an advan-
1: The squirrels were staring at me
2: I was thinking too much
3: I have a blister on my heel
4: My spikes need tightening
5: I forgot to eat
6: The sun was in my eyes
7: You’re breathing too loudly
8: You’re talking in my backswing
9: You’re being too friendly
10: My favorite socks disappeared
in the dryer