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|| News Item: Posted 1999-04-08

Leading Off: I Hate Golf
By Robert Hanashiro

On the eve of the start of the Masters, Sports Shooter takes a look at golf and what is considered THE golf tournament.

As friends and colleagues of mine know, golf is not one of my favorite events to cover. As a matter of fact, I hate golf.

While the walking, hauling gear, walking, the difficulties in covering 150 golfers over 18 holes and all the walking are always reasons I use as why I hate it, golf still holds some fond memories for me. Growing up in Fresno, some of my earliest experiences with sports, besides the usual Little League, is having my dad show me how to grip a club and teaching me the game.

Hitting golf balls into a makeshift "driving range" in the backyard of our home (basically a large tarp bought at the Army Surplus store), mowing the lawn so we had our own putting green to practice and see the joy my dad had when he watched Palmer, Trevino and Nicklaus play on TV are images that always pop up when I think of golf.

But probably the #1 memory I have of golf is when I hid my dad's treasured putter the night before he played in a club tournament so he would take me with him to caddy because I knew where the club was. Little did I know his tee time was 7 am and he left the house before I woke up... and without his putter!

Man, did I hear it when he got home! He ended up using a driver and later a 2 iron. Despite my adventures as a would-be caddy for my dad, I played golf all through high school and college, but as time grew tight with work and family, the clubs are sitting unused in the garage of my parents home in Fresno.

Nowadays my dislike of the sport is due to the cookie cutter nature of the golfers. Emotionless, businesslike robots whose only show of emotion on winning a $700,000 purse is a little wave to the gallery as they walk off the 18th green.

Give me Michael Jordan leaping 5 feet in the air pumping his fist after winning his first NBA title by beating the Lakers in the Great Western Forum, or John Elway skipping off the field like a school kid after the Bronco's scored a TD in January's Super Bowl, or Jimmy Conner's whirling 360 degrees, shooting off his "six shooters" after winning a point during his unbelievable U.S. Open run a few years ago or even a 12-year-old
Chinese ball player leaping into the arms of a teammate after winning the Little League World Series.

Emotion. That's what's missing.

The cold, calculated demeanor of today's player (save maybe Tiger Woods on a good weekend) is what puts me off. It's all about business ...from the sun glasses sponsor, to the clothes, the logo on the hat, the tv network and, of course the HUGE purses.

I remember golf as fun (save from that one putter instance). Lighten up guys. Look like you're having some fun out there!

I guess golf is now a long way from the 10-year-old hitting golf balls in his backyard by the light of a 50 watt bulb.

* * *

Also in this issue, we take a look back at the recent NCAA Final Four with a report from two staff members from the local paper of record in the host city of St. Petersburg and of course, we have a whole lot more. So sit back, turn down the Pearl Jam CD and enjoy.

Robert Hanashiro
Editor, Publisher Sports Shooter

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