Chris Baldwin This Week at TravelGolf.com: April 26, 2005:

Golf instructors always struck me as the modern-day equivalent of snake-oil salesmen or chiropractors. While they might not wheel a plastic skeleton around and offer free "consultations" at the mall, some of the golf pros touting their services are almost as obnoxious.

While I didn't really take up golf until my freshman year in college, and then only as a hangover breaker, and therefore didn't grow up ingrained in the traditions of the game (i.e. overpriced instruction scam structure), it just never seemed to me a wise use of money or time. In fact, throwing cash off the top of the Empire State Building to see how George floats as opposed to Abe long appeared sound by comparison.

After all, golf is the only sport pretentious enough to offer you lessons at hourly rates that some lawyers would be embarrassed about.

If you suck at basketball, do you go to a special one-on-one instructor who feeds you enough Zen mumbo jumbo that you think you're talking to a Pilates teacher? No, you go to the park and play, and get better. That's long how I've taken my golf game and it's worked in my proud Bad Golfer way. (Memo to new blogger "Jennifer Mario: a 13-stroke swing in two days is nothing for the truly bad golfer. I call that a typical weekend).

A friend of mine who works at the USGA and is almost as dedicated to being a bad golfer as I am loves to call himself an above-average golfer if he's out with one of those pompous dofuses who thinks they're God's gift to golf. Only later, after USGA guy's shanked about three balls into the woods, does he casually let out that the average golf score in America is 110 (a true USGA stat, one that more than a few golf courses would do well to learn and more than a few pompous dofuses inevitably prove while cursing their "bad luck").

The point is no one appreciates hopeless hackers better than I do. TravelGolf.com Managing Editor Mark Nessmith spoke to me with his "I am a force that the golf industry must recognize! Bow to me, for I suck at this game but love it!!!" blog. This should be the devastating duffer motto, for you are the people that make or break a golf course.

Only now, I'm wavering. I'm think of succumbing to the dark side. Yes, I've actually picked up the phone with thoughts of booking a lesson (thankfully I've ended up regaining my senses and dialing the pizza guy each time instead). But with the lovely, insightful Jennifer touting her lesson and, even worse, National Golf Editor Tim McDonald having given in, my resistance is weakening.

McDonald taking a golf lesson is like a rapper deciding a piece of jewelry is just too gaudy. It just isn't done. What's next, the Rebel Blogger signing an endorsement deal with a golf academy?

As always your comments are welcome on any topic, especially any encouragement to keep me a strong, uninstructed bad golfer of the people.

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Mountain Course Pete Dye's fortified greens loom
over the Mountain Course

As soon as you drive up to the Mountain Course at La Quinta, you begin picturing yourself shooting between the peaks of the looming Santa Rosa Mountains. But while you may start out talking about the mountains, you'll leave in wonderment or disgust (often both) at how Pete Dye managed to make this relatively short California course such a monster.

Full story | Cheap San Francisco golf


Talamore Golf Course Pinehurst without No. 2's
sticker shock? Believe it

So you say you want to go to Pinehurst and play No. 2. Then you check out the green fees: Yow! Next stop, Myrtle Beach. But wait - this area is home to about 45 courses within a 10-mile radius, many of them by architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and, of course, Donald Ross. The best part? There are a number of great options without the sticker shock of No. 2.

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Women's Bag Sometimes it's hard
to be a woman golfer

There are a whole slew of irritations to get women golfers’ panties in a wad, writes Jennifer Mario. What's up with different pars for men and women? Why should her 92 mean something different than yours!? And, developers: Pony up the cash and give women a real tee box! And don't get her started on pro shop sexism or women's golf bags (i.e. overgrown flowered cosmetics bags for the cart-riding powder puff set).

Full story | 'For the golfer who really sucks'

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