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Sharp is Making a List and Taking Names

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I really do.

And although we've officially moved into the holiday season, I feel I have to stop and reflect on some of the things I am not thankful for. Before we deck the halls and hit the malls, its important to purge our mind of all negative thoughts so that we may all receive our shirts, ties, electronic golf stroke counters, and 100th golf instructional book with huge, turkey eating grins on our faces.

Here's my list, and I don't need to check it twice.

Courses that don't overseed. Superintendents will tell you that letting the Bermuda go dormant during the winter months will lead to better playing conditions in the summer. Fine, but I want my plush, lily pad green rye grass overseed. It doesn't have to be tree line to tree line, but playing golf on a spongy, brown bed of deeply slumbering Bermuda turf just isn't what golf is all about.

Courses with slow greens. Do bad players even like these things? Some courses reason that slow greens will lead to fewer three, four, and ten putts, and that the pace of play will be helped along immensely. Hogwash. Pace of play suffers for a myriad of reasons, and cart path only rules and ready-golf challenged players that gawk over their playing partners' every move like a Brittany Spears video cause far more temporal damage than an extra putt or two.

Sophisticated pricing schemes. Course "A" is $60 if you play in the morning, $50 in the afternoon, $40 after 2 p.m., $36 if you are a local, $32 if you clipped the coupon, and $28 if you are over 60. So, if you are an elderly coupon clipper with a local driver's license who likes to play late in the afternoon, they should pay you to play, right?

Courses that don't let you walk. This is a sin, and it is inexcusable by way of confession or indulgence. Golf courses were meant to be walked, that is how architects designed them. Ride on the cart path all day and you miss the subtle mounding in the fairways, the wonderful green complexes, and the down time between shots that can serve as a mental refresher during your round.

You also miss the 500 to 1000 calories that can be burned while hoofing the three to five miles required in getting around most golf courses, and subsequently, the three to five inches you could lose around your waist. Myrtle Beach is the biggest perpetrator. Carts are mandatory on most courses, especially the high-end surcharge courses.

Golf books that pull out the "golf is like life" cliché a few pages into the text. Make me hurl. Don't belittle life by comparing it to a game played primarily by the "tragically" upper and middle class. Life contains things like love, grief, ecstasy, epiphanies, pain, heartache, melancholy, apple pie, the upcoming movie edition of Lord of the Rings, and Big Monday on ESPN. If you experience any of these things on a golf course, you're just flat out weird.

Jesper Parnevick's wardrobe, Tiger Woods' fist pump, David Duval's sunglasses, Phil Mickelson's black Hugo Boss shirt and white Yonex visor, and those ridiculous Foot Joy commercials with the quasi Bill Murray character living in some dank trailer, stalking the likes of Tour professionals.

Courses that charge over $100 for a round of golf, but don't hand out free range balls, tees, and hand towels. More of those granola bars like they have at the TPC of Myrtle Beach, and that Fish Chowder they have at the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club would be nice, too.

The term "player assistance." Hey, these guys used to be called rangers, and when they were, they kicked more butt than a Seven Segal, Sly Stone doubleheader. Once responsible for the four-hour round of golf, they are now culprits in the five-hour debacle that has come to haunt many of America's golf destinations.

These crotchety old men from the northeast have been deprogrammed and taught to act like southern women from 100 years ago. "Mr. Jones, I see that you are chopping broccoli, and that there are three groups piled up behind you. Could I go find the beverage cart for you and personally escort it over here so you can grab your 10th beer of the morning?"

The slew of emails I will get telling me I need to lighten up, read Golf in the Kingdom again, take a golf cart when offered, and enjoy my downhill putts that have to cut through 2 inches of Bermuda green just to reach the cup.

To them I will only answer, "Happy Holidays."

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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