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In The Official Duffer’s Rules of Golf, as approved by The Great American Duffer’s Association, golf is described as one helluva hard game, played with good intentions and awful results.

Rule No. 16 declares that if there be any disputes, difficult decisions or doubts that arise during play, a foursome shall shout loudly, call names, swear and pout. In a game that constantly makes grown millionaires cry (pass the Kleenex – Bubba), the key words are disputes and difficult decisions, you can add controversies.

Despite Tim Geary’s lame, monthly puff pieces, golf does have a dark side and this month we explore golf’s dirty little secrets. The topic gets my juices flowing. It brings out the worst in me since it’s time to vent, shout loudly and call out the bozos, blowhards and punks in the game who try to ruin it for the rest of us!

Before beginning my list of top 10 pet peeves in golf let me warm up with few swipes at lightweight Tim Geary, a career Brad Faxon rumpswab, who tries to be so politically correct it’s nauseating. That dope can’t possibly write a top 10 list without pissing someone off, so send your hate mail to his address, my mailbox is full.

First, let’s agree that everyone has a list that includes sandbaggers, slackers who don’t rake bunkers, morons who walk in your putting line and motor mouths who mumble in your backswing.

#10) Too Many Cups! Golf overflows with Cups. Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, FedEx Cup, Curtis Cup, Solheim Cup, World Cup. Drape the U.S. flag around a cup and it guarantees huge profits for the PGA of America (Ryder Cup) and PGA Tour (Presidents Cup). What other sport takes its best athletes and owns them for a week, telling them what to wear, what to eat, where to play, what to do, what to say and then questions why they should be paid. The Ryder Cup is not about country, it’s about money!

#9) Golfers Who Wear Watches! Not sure where the stupid trend began but I think it’s the mid 90s with Payne Stewart, in classic knickers and cap, but he always wore a wrist watch while competing. Phil Mickelson sold his soul to Rolex for a one-time sponsor fee of $2 million to wear a watch. Golf is a copy cat sport and this is another bad habit that average hackers took straight from the PGA Tour. Final answer: There is no place for watches on a golf course and it does not make you a better player but rather proves that you’re an idiot and the ultimate copy cat. Duh!

#8) Read the Rule Book! There are too many rules in golf but three basic rules you should know. Out of bounds means stroke and distance, not point of entry. Red hazard stake means lateral relief of two club lengths and unplayable lie translates into relief with one club length. Got it?

#7) Turn Off the Cell Phone! All private courses have a policy that bans cell phones from being used while playing, but rarely is anyone disciplined. Show a little class and respect for your partners and shut the phone off.

#6) Nice Shot! Know when to shut your mouth on the golf course. Maybe well-intentioned, but nothing productive results when you compliment a playing partner with “nice shot” only to see the ball trickle into a bunker, creek or worse, beyond the out of bounds white stake. If it’s your opponent, restrain your celebration.

#5) Women Playing in Men’s Tournaments! There’s a reason courses are set up with men, women and juniors tee boxes. Also, there are tournaments designated for men only and women only. Is this hard to comprehend? It was a mistake to allow Michelle Wie and Anika Sorenstam to play in a PGA Tour event. The only females allowed to play with men – Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbus, maybe Morgan Pressel.

#4) Blowhard Board Members! Clubhouse politics is poison. How many times have you seen newly appointed committee chairman get so full of themselves? Three words best describe the Board of Governors at Norfolk Golf Club in Westwood, where I have been a member 25-years: Arrogant. Ignorant. Abusive. You can’t fix stupid because this Board pledges fiscal responsibility yet offers unlimited free Poland Spring bottled water and free unlimited guest privileges to 20 committee chairs, resulting in thousands of dollars in revenue lost each year. How do you define abuse?

#3) Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice! This pet peeve should be universally observed by all duffers. Never, ever give unsolicited advice to another hacker, even though they have a flawed swing, poor stance, weak grip and continue to hit a small, white ball badly towards the wrong hole.

#2) Golf Carts With Handicap Flags! Hold me back when I see a golf cart parked a few feet from a green. Lately, I see more handicap players abusing the privilege of taking the cart off the cart path for easier access to their wayward shots and to tees and greens. There are places that a cart should not be driven and it’s time to discipline the abusers with suspensions, or making them use seven clubs, instead of 14.

#1) Get A Lesson! Nothing infuriates me more than when I see a cocky, middle-aged Baby Boomer step out of a new 528i BMW, hoist a new Callaway golf bag with $2,000 in custom-made irons and metal woods over his shoulder, including $275 Scotty Cameron putter and Titleist Vokey wedge and step up to the first tee and pump two balls OB. It’s hilarious, yet painful and happens all the time. Get a life, but importantly, spend your money wisely and get a lesson!
(Tom Gorman, a Boston-based freelance golf writer, asks that due to a dramatic increase in hate mail, future hate mail be sent to either Mr. Geary or to the editor.)

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