Sensitive to charges of elitism, the PGA Tour played the ScamTec Recreational Open last week. ScamTec is a maker of software for home computers that supposedly makes the computer run faster and smoother, at least according to their marketing department. Developers at ScamTec are required to sign a gag order.
The SR Open is recreational golf from start to finish. The rules are simple: no caddies, no carts, no yardage books, no pin sheets. Every player gets a three-wheeler to put his bag in and away they go, to play golf the way the 40 million other people play it.
It starts at the contestant’s entrance. “Good morning, Mr. Scott, it’s nice to see you today. Oh, Mr. Williams, would you hold up for a moment? I’m afraid you’ll have to go around to the public entrance and purchase your admission ticket there. Stay behind the ropes, if you would, please, and no giving advice to the players!”
Following his drive on number four, Mr. McIlroy wheeled his cart up to his ball then went looking around for the sprinkler head. He paced off the distance from the sprinkler head to his ball and would have pulled the perfect club except he thought the red flag meant pin in back, and overshot his target by 20 yards. Disgusted, he started for the green when a foghorn from the gallery cried out, “Hey, Mr. Millionaire! For cryin’ out loud! Replace your @#!&^* divot!”
Over on the 2nd tee, a cart with a Marshall flag flying careened up the group that just arrived. Very politely, he said, “Mr. Crane, you’re about fifty minutes behind the expected pace of play. The players behind you would appreciate your stepping it up just a bit if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Oh, and we’re noticing that some of you aren’t leaving the bunkers in the same condition you found them. If you wouldn’t mind raking them when you’ve hit out, that would be a great help to everyone else.”
Play is clogged on the 8th tee because Cart Girl is parked there. CG doesn’t know even the rudiments of salesmanship, but she doesn’t need to. She is the image of American Sweetness, and her tank top and short-shorts barely cover a figure that reduces a man’s speech to a series of random vowel sounds. Buy big and buy often seems to be the credo. Several players were seen giving excess purchases to fans behind the ropes. One report said that Mr. Williams declined a bag of chips offered by Mr. Mickelson, though the reporter refused to get involved on whether the declension was “respectful” or not. Another player kept all his purchases to himself and withdrew after 15 holes with stomach cramps.
The SR Open ended when Mr. Garcia, eleven feet from the hole on the final green, two putts away from a career round and the win, four-putted, but won anyway because the player who seemingly two-putted for the one-shot win was penalized two strokes for playing the wrong ball on his approach out of the rough. In the interview room, he said, “Well, that’s about where my drive went, and it kinda looked like my ball . . .”
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.