Mark Nessmith This Week at September 20, 2005

Time to take Americans' battle
of the bulge to the golf course

If you're one of them Merle Haggard, mess-with-my-country-and-you're-on-the-fightin'-side-of-me types, you might want to skip this little gem of a column, you're not going to like it. See, while I'm a true blue American, I have something to say about my fellow countrymen that you're not going to like. Ready?

You're fat! Too fat! Forget baseball, the nation's pastime is now growing asses the size of Pittsburgh! Put down the dozen glazed, step away from the chili cheese fries. Stop doing this to yourselves.

I recently left the comfort of my castle in Europe to head to this side of the Atlantic for the first time in more than two years. Walking around an upscale suburb of Richmond, Va., it hit me that the only thing larger than the average rear end is the size of the vehicles straining to carry all that flesh from bagel shop to deli to sports bar to Blockbuster. I thought I was just imagining things, then I went to a grocery store and they had an on-site diabetes clinic. Imagine: So many of this store's customers have eaten their way to diabetes that the store's decided to cash in (twice). Smart marketing - but a sad commentary.

I reckon it's not politically correct or sensitive to point out that the emperor is naked and really fat, but hurt feelings don't kill - heart disease and diabetes do. And a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control reports that between 1980 and 2000 the number of overweight adult Americans increased 17 percent and the number of overweight teenagers tripled.

So you're asking what any of this fat rant has to do with golf. Well, just like with Katrina relief efforts, golf may not be the answer, but it certainly can be a part of the solution. And there most be at least some connection between the surge in obesity and the fact that golf carts have become ubiquitous.

If you've ever walked 18 you know how different the game can be. First, it's a killer low-impact workout, great for burning calories and getting your heart going. Second, nothing keeps your head and swing in a zone like walking from shot to shot. Somehow, golfers in this country no longer even have the option of walking at most courses. When did golf become a good ride spoiled?

Course owners, always moaning about slumping rounds, ought to see this battle of the bulge as an opportunity just like that grocery store in Richmond. Start offering walking rounds as an option and then tout the health benefits to no end. If that doesn't work, throw in a free Twinkie with every green fee.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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