The Godfather, the HAC, and Houston

When I was a child, I saw The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. I have watched it again and again, and I read Mario Puzo’s masterpiece. I have upgraded the movies as the media changes, but have held off upgrading to the DVD’s until now -it’s available on iTunes and will now travel with me on my iPhone on my next trip. 

It’s greatness is in its authentic portrayal of the immigrant experience. It’s about being an outsider. It’s about the wages of sin and losing of the soul in pursuit of the American dream. 

What is the American Dream today? In striving for it, what do we lose? Why did we as a society go “All In” on housing,  with borrowed chits from the Chinese who now run the tables. 

In troubled times, we will all end up going to the mattresses, banding together. The HAC is an important thing because it is Our Thing -it allows the men in our community to gather and see what kind of golfers we are. 

Tears came to my eyes when I saw a subdivision a lot like ours in Houston without electricity. It wasn’t the lack of electricity, but the orange extension cords going from the homes with power to their neighbors without power that were physical representations of the connectedness of these people. 

The HAC, play groups, the block parties, these work to make us closer. We will all need each other in these troubled times.

Favorite hole at DMGCC – No. 18, South Course

I love this hole. Above is the view you get if you launch a power fade over the tree. It is the funnest hole on the south 18 at DMGCC.

It also means you are done and you get to go home soon and not have to deal anymore with the windmill, the half pipe, and funhouse and all the other greens. The purple ball goes down the chute and you turn in your putter to the crabby old guy behind the cash register. 

For whatever reason, I have always started out strong at DMGCC, but something about the greens here get my goat. It bends me out of shape. On number 1, I drew a nice 8 iron into a stiff left to right wind about 10 feet from the cup, but the break never showed up on the putt, but did on the next which tried every which way not to roll in. 

I did play with my neighbors, and that made up for my miseries. KP and JN were wonderful compatriots, true golfists. JS, who joined us on the back, is scratch, and I got a glimpse of the promised land. I can’t see how I’ll ever get there, but I have faith that it is there. 

I should stop whining.

Why is golf played by white, suburbanites? asks Bill Pennington, or so it seems.

Bill Pennington’s article in the NYT (link here) gives me a bit of a pause, as I do have opinions about the curse of nativism that forms part of the American political fabric on both sides of the divide. He brings up the possibility that diversity is an asset, by pointing out the homogeneity of the US side -without mentioning Anthony Kim, my homey spectaculare. Basically, the article didn’t make much sense to me as the European side isn’t exactly the Mod Squad. 

Bill’s inconsistencies aside, I do think that golf in the US does suffer from the image of Spaulding Smails lurching about at the country club (interview with fellow who played him below). I don’t think that the US team can be faulted for its composition, but I do believe that all of us as golfers need to do better to spread the word about golf. We should consider it our mission as committed golfists to invite and encourage beginners rather than insulated yourself with your usual cronies. 

 

update:

US wins Ryder Cup! Anthony Kim’s match with Sergio was accompanied by the sound of a giant doorbell going bing – bong.

Just go

From golf, I am approaching many things with new focus. The deliberation and planning, the fact gathering, and the ultimate decision making with contingencies is easier because I visualize it as a process much like preparing for and lining up a golf shot. Once you are set up, you have to achieve a present-emptiness focused on execution of your plan. This is a thoughtful state in that you are connected to your senses and the levers of activity, but a bit different from the “you can’t blink” quote floating around which has the same origin as “shoot ‘em first and let God sort them out.”

Whatd’I shoot? Oh, I had a 79 yesterday, but my back hurts today, just can’t swing the club as well.

Part 1

Part 2

I will need dental work from grinding my teeth while watching these. It is obvious that she doesn’t know a gap wedge from a mid-iron. That you take stroke and distance with out of bounds. If she gets elected, and McCain succumbs to his age (actuarially has about 3-5 years left), she will be our president. She’s claiming she’s scratch. 

So you go play a round with her, and she can’t hit a straight ball. You catch her rolling the ball in the rough. You see her grounding the club in the hazard. She walks across your line on the green. And after many complaints about her back interfering with her swing, you come across the scorecard which has herself two under par. Who are you kidding?

This is a dangerous person who is the apotheosis (a big word she probably doesn’t know) of a culture of purposeful ignorance. She’s that crazy mid-level manager that somehow ended up CEO and will fire anyone who doesn’t hold up her mirror. The question about the Bush doctrine was salient, and will probably be lost on 90% of America that can’t locate Iraq on a globe, much less the US. The Bush doctrine is really about that crazy neighbor that runs out onto the yard with a shotgun when your kid steps on his lawn. That is us, from the world’s point of view, after the debacle that is Iraq. She flips and flops on global warming and tries to come off playing Al Gore.

It’s as if that crazy PTO mom who scares all the other mommies is now going to be your president.

Sarah Palin’s Vanity Handicap – and I take my stand.

“Oh, I’m a ten handicap.”

Every once in a while, I will play with someone declares they are a 9 to 12 handicap. This is a suspicious number for me, as too often than not, it is a vanity handicap for a bogey golfer (or worse) who deludes himself with low scores. With one individual, I saw him take a double bogey and declare it a par – “it would have been a par, and I can’t take that six because I don’t sandbag.” Which was meant “I don’t sandbag like you.” I had driven him to distraction because I opened with a birdie on his course, and then proceeded to par the next four holes. It was an extraordinary stretch consisting of 190 yard shots landing and skidding to a halt ten feet from the hole, a sand blast to inches, drives that carved the fairways, and putts -really long putts, that dropped. I was carrying a 17 handicap at that time, and it was easily the best stretch of golf I had played up to that point. After he said that, my zone of invulnerability popped as I wanted to wrap my golf club around his neck. He settled into a comfortable pattern of 200 yard drives, 130 yard 7 irons, and fussy chips and drawn out 2 putt bogeys and occasional pars, carding a 92. I ended up with 95 and I posted my score. He didn’t because, he declared again that he was no sandbagger. 

I keep reading Sarah Palin’s press releases and the bile rises and it’s that vanity handicap all over. She claims to be a budget cutter, but bills Alaskan for 300 days worked from home, 600 miles from the capital. She claims credit for an unbuilt pipeline. She claims to be a Republican (Party of Lincoln, liberty, competence, efficiency, and brilliance) but tried to censor books, crushed people who got in her way, and put cronies in positions of power -actually, I guess she is what passes for a Republican these days. She claims to be an American, but gave support to Alaskan separatists. 

She brays about playing scratch when she really is a bogey golfer who plays with mulligans on every hole, rolled balls on the fairway, and 5 foot gimme’s. 

The vanity handicap is that most awful of lies. Sandbaggers lie to others with awareness of their lies. People with vanity handicaps lie to themselves and are incapable of seeing through their delusion. When confronted, they wrap themselves up in self righteousness.

I believe that Mrs. Palin believes she is incapable of lying, believes everything she says is true, and has neither insight nor empathy. She is an empty vessel for broadcasting hacked speeches for Rove. John McCain, whom I once greatly admired, has betrayed us all by putting her on his ticket. The speech above is like a Seinfeld episode, a show about nothing, that appalls just the same. 

God Bless America!

On Par by Bill Pennington – I don’t think he read the header…

I am an avid NY Times reader, and look forward to the dispatches from Bill Pennington. I emailed him this blog several weeks ago, but I don’t think he gets it.

from B. Penninton

Thanks for your email from last month. Sorry for the delay in answering. I agree, golf is certainly a metaphor for life. Except that some people keep score, I guess. Anyway, thanks again for your message and I hope you keep reading my On Par golf features and watching the videos at nytimes.com when they resume next spring.


Bill Pennington

Shotgun

 

Three targets, three scatter-grams

Three targets, three scatter-grams

The picture on left shows three pin targets for pitches, easily the most important part of the game to transition to hitting in the eighties. I tend to use my 60 degree wedge for these and feel a bit lost without it, even though this means I have to give up something long like a 3 wood (because I also carry a gap -52 degree- wedge). The pitching is serviceable, but not brilliant. Must keep head down.