Friday, 14th December 2018

Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Induced Labor? That’s Real Golf Commitment

Posted on 25. Jun, 2010 by in Articles, Golf

Golf nuts push the envelope

“Honey, great news about the pregnancy, but would you mind inducing labor so I can play in a tournament?”

Really, how many men would have the courage to say that to their wives?

Well, Ivan Morris of Limerick City, Ireland did just that so he could play in the Interprovincial Championships at Royal County Down. Mrs Morris agreed, and Mr Morris won a little trophy.

More important, he earned 1,000 points from the Golf Nuts jury in his successful quest to become 2001 Golf Nut of the Year.

I enjoy golf as much as the next person.  I have a few bags stuffed with dusty old clubs, and a few favorite shirts, and many memories.  But I doubt I’ll ever be elected Golf Nut of the Year by the US-based Golf Nuts Society (www.golfnuts.com).

I sometimes leave work early to get in nine holes before sunset.  That minor misdemeanor wouldn’t even rate on the Golf Nuts leader board when compared with, say, Scott Houston, 2002 Golf Nut of the Year, who quit his full-time position as executive director of the Monterey (California) Peninsula Chamber of Commerce to follow his dream and become a full-time caddie at Pebble Beach.  That earned him 5,000 points.  Similarly, 2003 winner Bob Fagan took a six-figure pay decrease to gain an entry-level job with an airline so he could get travel privileges to play more courses outside his driving area.

Fagan, who scored more points in the Golf Nut competition than any other entrant, is among the most tireless golfers.  He played 26 top-ranked courses in Michigan during a five-and-a-half day period, while setting four course records and driving more than 1,300 miles (this feat earned him 1,326 points). He played 59 courses in 29 days starting in Miami and finishing in San Francisco (driving solo) and in the process had 19 consecutive rounds in the 60s on courses that he had not before played, including Pebble Beach and Cypress Point.  In all, he’s played 1,641 golf courses in the United States, arguably the most of any living golfer.

Fagan, who has been known to play wearing an army helmet, flippers and mask, and wet suit, sometimes mis-hits – he has struck all three of his sisters with golf shots, an accomplishment that earned him 300 points. Understandable, I guess, when you consider that he’s blind in one eye.

I’ve played plenty of Asian courses when the temperature sizzled, but put my few hours of sweat against Bob Fagan’s exploit and it’s like climbing a flight of stairs compared to Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay struggling up Everest.  At the age of 48, California-based Fagan, who won the Golf Nut trophy in 2003, played six different 18-hole courses in 114 degree heat in Palm Springs in July in a single day, while walking and carrying his bag on three of the rounds. On the sixth and final course, Tamarisk CC, he had no drinking water and the clubhouse was closed. “It was like the Burma Death March,” he recalls.  Another time, needing some aerobic exercise, he played a round on a regulation course in less than 80 strokes in less than 60 minutes while carrying his bag of 14 clubs and umbrella.

Got a love/hate relationship with your clubs?  Fagan owns 91 wedges, 14 sets of irons, and more than 80 putters, one of which, when it was “misbehaving”, he tied to the trunk of his car and dragged it along the highway for an 18-mile trip home from the course.

Still, in one memorable round the putter came through for him — Fagan, a two handicap player, broke 80 playing with just that one club.

I take plenty of lessons and buy the occasional instructional video.  But I can’t compete with 1995 Golf Nut of the Year Brad Bastow, a Michigan cardiologist who hired a live-in golf pro in an attempt to become a scratch golfer.  Not convinced that a winter of hitting on a golf simulator would do the trick, Bastow bought a condo on The Vinyards, a private 36-hole country club in Florida, so he and his personal pro could practice.  Despite his commitment and expense, Bastow’s handicap remained at 13.9.

The great thing about being a Golf Nut is that anybody who is sufficiently obsessed can apply.

Wendi Keen, winner in 1998, proposed divorce to her ex-husband while standing near the 18th green during the final round of an LPGA tournament in Santa Barbara, California.

And Michael Jordan, arguably the most accomplished professional athlete of all time, won the Golf Nut title in 1989, listing his occupation as “basketball”.  During the four-month 1989 off-season he calculated that he played an average of 37.5 rounds a month, in addition to his other off-season promotional and business activities.  He failed to show for his 1988 National Basketball Association MVP award in Chicago but he had a valid Golf Nut excuse – he was vacationing at Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina, playing 36 holes and practicing two hours daily. 

Jordan regularly chose golf over basketball.  He withdrew from the 1990 NBA Slam Dunk Contest “due to injury” and played 36 holes the same day.  He declined to attend a White House reception for the 1991 World Champion Chicago Bulls and, that’s right, played golf instead.  When the 1993 All-Star Game was held in chilly Salt Lake City, he skipped “Media Day” and flew to Las Vegas with two other All-Stars to play golf at famous Shadow Creek. When asked why he flew to Las Vegas, he stated that the NBA should arrange to hold all-Star Games only in warm-weather cities so he could more easily play golf.

Sometimes this Golf Nut business can get a bit, well, compulsive. Steve Smith, 2004 Golf Nut of the Year, has kept his golf stats – including fairways hit, greens in regulation, chips, putts, sand saves, etc, on his computer for every hole of every round he has played since 1993.  On winning the title he said “This is horrible.  This is going to be a real problem at home if Paula [his wife] finds out.”  Paula actually had a pretty good idea such an accolade was coming, considering that on his 34th wedding anniversary, after playing 36 holes of golf with his buddies, she had suggested “Don’t you think you’re a touch obsessed?”  But, to Smith’s credit, he never asked her to induce labor in order to make a tee-time.