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There is an old axiom that the word "golf" is an inappropriate acronym for "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden." The actual etymology of the word "golf" more than likely originated from the medieval Dutch word "kolf," meaning club.
Old Scots dialect transformed the word into "golfe" or "gouf." The Scots have been playing the game since circa 1457, smacking feather-stuffed balls with club-shaped tree branches. The current pronunciation of the word "golf" came about sometime in the mid-16th century.
This information comes from the British Golf Museum. Interestingly the Brits, with their stiff upper lip, did not mention the various four-letter-invective's the Scots used to describe their game in more detail.
Of late, I have been trying to come up with a more apt acronym for the word "golf," at least as it pertains to the extent of my game. Intent on using only respectable words, the best I have come up with to describe the experience might be "Get Over Losing Face" or perhaps, "Game Only Lacks Fairways."
This year the game completely eludes me. I busted my keaster last year to bring my handicap down seven strokes. That is no small feat in just a summer.
So, lofty expectations were anticipated this year. I would hit the ground running and smash the previously embarrassing handicap down to something to boast upon. If it would just come back down to the number fifteen, where it was thirty years ago, I could be at peace with myself again.
In among snakes, javelina's, and cacti, my buddies and I golfed some unreasonably hard courses in Arizona last winter. While the scores weren’t that great, I reasoned at least skills were being honed, plus I didn’t really know the courses very well.
So, the wife drug me back to Politically-Corrupt-Illinois kicking and screaming. I reported to the local golf establishment, when Illinois weather would allow, where I preceded to score a couple of nauseating rounds in the three-digit category – on a course I knew well. These are the types of scores that wear you out physically and mentally. Throw in a backache and you find yourself wanting to hide in a dark corner sucking your thumb. Where did my game go?
"Not to worry," I was told, "it's early yet."
Then I scored a couple more games just over the shameful one-hundred border. (This is my personal barometer, folks – please no angry letters.)
"Hey," my peeps cajoled. "At least those scores are coming down," as they slapped my back, all the while helping themselves generously to the contents of my wallet. Icebergs have descended faster than those scores.
Eventually, I got my score down under three digits...barely. And there it has resided like a visit from your in-laws. Handicap has moved up one measly shot in the process. Big deal! The one shot hasn't stopped my former friends, now acquaintances, from helping separate me from my money.
What is it about that game that is so eluding to us higher handicappers? Why does our ball always find the 10% of the limbs or leaves of a tree, rather than the 90% mythical "air" we keep hearing about? Why do the Golf Gods see fit to make our ball drop directly behind said tree or to bounce wildly down the wrong fairway? Is it really that funny to the powers-that-be to keep leaving putts tantalizingly on the lip, merely peering down into the depths of the hole? We realize it is hilarious to those bums taking our money, but how could that be humorous to deities with so much else to do around the world?
So, recently, while standing near the practice range, a place I normally avoid so as to hide my fits, I was having this very conversation with a wise old Irish golfer by the name of Paddy Fitzpatrick, seeking his sage advice. There were a couple of other duffers nearby listening, so I surmised when Paddy gently pulled me aside, he was going to impart some secret ancient words of wisdom that had not yet been bestowed upon me. Finally, I was going to be let in on the secret.
"Web, me boy," Paddy began in his Irish brogue, "haf ya ever considered it jest might be ye loft?"
I thought carefully before responding, wanting to make sure I heard each magical word correctly. I let my mind absorb those words like a fine wine. Perplexed, I finally confessed to my bewilderment.
"L.O.F.T.!," he repeated a little more forcefully, " It's your Lack of Friggin' Talent!"
"See you next Saturday, Paddy," I replied, walking away, as the old duffers howled.