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I have always been a little different. Maybe it started with the fact that I was breastfed until age 15, that time I realized anally ingesting energy drinks gets you way more amped, or that magic trick I used to do where I swallow five pennies and poop out a nickel — no clue. What I do know is that I’ve always been prone to going against the grain.
When I took up the game of golf the summer after my freshman year of college, I was instantly hooked. My favorite part wasn’t clapping bombs with my driver (it took me three years to be able to consistently hit the thing 180+), sinking long putts (I get more rimjobs from golf holes than I got from the two pledge classes for whom I was pledge educator, which is saying something), or getting completely trashed out on the course — all the things that normal people love about the game. No, my favorite part of golf is the fact that it has a strict set of rules that you can abide by to receive a completely objective ranking of how you played that day.
Admittedly, that’s a weird reason to like playing a sport. That’s the thing, though. Golf is so much more than a sport. While many people take golf lessons, what they don’t realize is that golf is actually teaching them lessons — lessons about perseverance, finding good in the bad, and, most importantly, honesty.
There’s no argument: Honesty is the most essential value when it comes to golf. At the amateur level, when nobody else is watching your shots and keeping your score, you are the only person who knows how you did. It’s up to you to keep your own score, and report that score to your group.
Somewhere along the way, lost in a sea of vanity, one-upmanship, and pride, honesty has disappeared from the game of golf. A value which was once the lifeblood of a great sport has been defeated by the not-so-silent majority, cheaters claiming greatness in lieu of mediocrity.
I have always been an open book about my golf game. Not wanting to ever feel like I’m lying, I always respond with a completely honest answer when somebody asks me how I shoot. The first year or so that I played? Around 112. The few months before I finally broke 100? Low 100s. After the first time I ever broke 100 by shooting a 93? Still low 100s — that one time was just a fluke. When I got my hole-in-one, I made sure, and continue to make sure, to let everyone I tell know that it was on a par 3 course. A 123-yard hole on a par 3 course with grass tee boxes (fuck mats), but a par 3 course nonetheless. Now that I’m finally able to consistently break 100? High 90s. All of those are what I believe to be accurate representations of my game at that time and present day.
What do I get for being honest? Comments like “wow, you suck,” and “I shot that after playing for six months.” Those are coming from friends who score 104s, marks down 87s, and then claim that’s about what they usually shoot, mind you.
Now, I’m incredibly average at golf. Just take a look.
— Jared Borislow (@DeVryGuy) September 22, 2015
Not the worst form you’ve ever seen, but a swing that’s clearly lacking some fine tuning. A swing I never thought would break 90… until this happened.
— Jared Borislow (@DeVryGuy) December 14, 2015
I was ecstatic. An actual 89! A true, USGA rules 89. No re-tees, no mulligans, nothing. A feat I’d been working towards for over three years, finally realized. And what do I get? Trash talk from my own boss.
Bet you didn't keep score per official USGA rules, you muni trash https://t.co/pQJInH0lLJ
— Roger Dorn (@RogerJDorn) December 14, 2015
This is the same guy who has, on more than one occasion, Vined himself hitting drives he claims go 350 yards despite the ball not landing yet and the camera staying on him the whole time, giving the viewer no visual confirmation of that distance.
So yeah, those words didn’t affect me too much.
@RogerJDorn $99 says I score stricter than you
— Jared Borislow (@DeVryGuy) December 14, 2015
They got me thinking, though — if everybody automatically assumes that everyone else is lying about their golf scores, what’s the point in telling the truth? Outside of the fact that you’ll know you’re being honest, there really isn’t one. That’s when I realized a sad truth:
Honesty gets you absolutely nowhere in golf. On the contrary, it makes you look worse.
I’m not trying to make myself out to be some pinnacle of truth, some prime example of a correct golf scorer. My 89 was by official USGA rules, but not all my scores are. If I hit a shot OB without realizing it, and I didn’t hit a provisional, I’ll take a one stroke penalty from where the ball went OB instead of driving back 180 yards and wasting my group’s time. There are some instances, like this one, where courtesy to your group and the group behind you is more important than holding yourself 100% to the book, especially if your round isn’t anything special at that point. Feeling off and are 100% confident you’re going to hit your dropped ball right back into the water after taking your one stroke penalty for a splashdown? There’s no harm in dropping it on the other side of the water hazard to save yourself some time and money.
There is harm, however, in not acknowledging that that event ever happened if you score well. If you move that ball over the hazard and then hole out, feel free to call that a birdie, but not without adding in that it wasn’t a birdie in the conventional sense. Same thing with the incorrect OB drop. Those don’t matter if you score poorly. There’s no difference between a 114 and a 112. But if you score well, what’s the harm in saying your score and adding in “I took a couple free drops”? Believe it or not, your added honesty will actually make people more inclined to believe you played well that day.
The problem here isn’t that people are not following the rules when they play. That gets thrown out the window when you drive the cart 45 degrees on a 90-degree cart rule day, or take a little boy piss in plain sight of the cart girl (maybe throw a wink in there, too). It’s that by lying about your golf game, you’re taking away all meaning from the sport. All the fun is gone. There are no accomplishments, no milestones. Breaking 80 isn’t impressive when it’s up to you to decide if you broke it or not. Leave that shit up to the game.
If you’re fine with playing a made-up version of golf, devoid of fun for yourself and those you play with, you’re not somebody I want in my foursome..