The Morning File / To golf like Fred Couples, what a dream...


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Dear Fred Couples:

I see that you, one of the finest golfers of your generation (and mine, since we're about the same age, though for some inexplicable reason you look 15 years younger) are in town this week for the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

I just wanted to wish you luck and encourage you to stop by to chat if you have time. (Like, if you have more rain delays and don't know what to do with yourself if you already took the Just Ducky tour last year.)

We have a lot in common, since we both like to spend time on the links and we both had bogeys when we played golf last Sunday. True, your bogey was your worst hole of the day and mine was my best, but that's just nitpicking. The key is that we both love the game -- or at least I did before officially announcing my retirement to my companions in the parking lot afterward.

I don't know how many times you've officially retired from playing golf, but this would be about No. 20 for me, or maybe it's No. 30. I lose track, similar to how I sometimes lose count of my number of shots on the course.

What was the last straw this time? Oh, I don't know, maybe the two balls hit directly into tree trunks back to back? (I could swear those trees were not present before I swung, thus defying all laws of either physics or optometry, which seems to occur a surprising amount.) Or maybe it's when a surprisingly on-target chip shot headed toward the flag stick struck another player's ball on the edge of the green, sending his closer toward the hole while mine rolled in reverse back down a slope.

I won't bore you with further details, as I know there's nothing duller than a person talking about his golf round. Although there was this one 3-iron you should have seen on No. 8 that -- oh, wait, I said I'd shut up.

But here's the thing I'd really love to discuss with you over an IC Light Mango or two while you're here: not the game itself, so much as the attitude toward the game. After all, Golf Digest magazine just named you the "coolest" golfer of all time.

You are so relaxed in every facet -- your swing, your stride, your reaction to your shots. You're gracious toward the fans, smile for the cameras, are forever supportive of your competitors, even on the worst of days.

If you don't mind my asking, what kind of freak are you?

Here is the scale of misbehavior for necessary venting that I have long used and assumed to be justifiable during a subpar round (and keep in mind, a subpar round for me does not carry the same meaning as a subpar round by you):

Topped tee shot: Mutter swear words.

Shanked iron: Swing club angrily mid-air like a baseball bat when no one's nearby.

Missed short-range putt: Make snide comments about companions' bad putts to deflect attention from my own.

Any of the above in consecutive order: Break club over knee (or, when conscious of budget, just fling it).

Hitting ball in manner that causes it to travel backward (trust me, it can happen): Swing club at nearest animate object.

Am I any prouder of such conduct than you would be, Fred? Not really, and here's the irony: You're great, but you don't show anger when you hit a shot that's less than great; I stink, I know I stink, and yet I get upset when I hit a stinky shot. Go figure.

I don't mean to make it sound like I'm no fun to golf with (though I can see how that impression might have slipped through). In fact, I was thinking that if you're out of contention in your Champions Tour event by Saturday, you might want to take it easy the rest of the weekend by joining me as I come out of official golf retirement for either the 21st or 31st time.

I could take you over to Schenley Park's course, where we can hit over fences and dart across the road between speeding vehicles in a manner you don't generally see at Pebble Beach or St. Andrews. We could be like the Yin and Yang of Schenley -- although by that, I don't mean Korean PGA golfer Y.E. Yang (but if he's around, sure, bring him along, so long as he doesn't make any snide comments about my putting).

Either way, you could give me a few pointers on hitting a ball straighter and I could show you how to make a ball travel backward. And most importantly, we'd be golfing. After all, what could be better?

lifestyle - intelligencer

Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255.Tony Norman is off today. First Published June 28, 2013 4:00 AM


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