Golf: Dealing with snakes and other distractions

"The number of shots taken by an opponent who is out of sight, is equal to the square root of the sum of the number of curses heard, plus the number of swishes." Michael Green, author of "The Art of Coarse Golf," 1975.

Golf returned to the Olympics, and some great golf was showcased. There were many doubters who felt that golf did not belong in the Games, and that there would not be much change from the weekly professional game we view each week. I think the folks who put golf back in the Games got it right. The venue was nice, too. I have got to applaud the golfers, as they performed at a high level, on a course that was carved out of swamp and jungle. The skill level of the Olympians did not waver. That's what separates the competitors from the average golfer. However, if you gave me an opportunity to play the Olympic course in Rio, I would decline. Along with the players, Olympic representatives and fans out on the course, there were groups of people whose jobs were to prevent snakes from interfering with the play. If you need snake handlers out on the course while play is in progress, I'm out! I would have one eye on the ball, and the other would be searching for the reptiles. This would be a major distraction.
We face distractions every time we tee up the ball. The distractions can be the pace of play on the course. It can be playing partners who talk while you are trying to hit. Or, it could be a member of another group who decides the golf cart might be better suited for the NASCAR track and slams on the brakes. It can be the voice of a player that seems to penetrate the golfing environment, or the closing of the door at the porta-potty. A good question is, "What distractions do you allow to interfere with your game?"
If you have just hit a really nice shot, while a player talked loudly behind you, and the outside interference never came into play to affect the outcome, it was probably the fact that you were concentrating on your shot. On the other side, how many times have you allowed an outside interference to affect your shot and you backed away? After hitting the shot, without a favorable outcome, you might blame an outside distraction for your poor shot. We are amateur golfers whose primary goal is to go out on the course, play to the best of our ability, enjoy the company we are with, and, hopefully, improve in our personal game. This doesn't imply we don't want to compete and win. In a club match, a $5 Nassau or a trophy event, we want to play our best and emerge victorious. Get tougher mentally by concentrating and developing a greater awareness of your own game.

The next time a player is standing within your sight-line while you are ready to putt, back off and ask the offender to move. When your playing partners decide to have a conversation while you are going to hit, back off and wait for them to finish or send them a glance that indicates your displeasure. If a playing competitor is a "pocket jangler," wait until they are not interfering with your concentration. But you are not going to stop the shrill voice that pierces the air and interferes with everyone's game. The pace of play does not improve, don't allow this to impact your game. There are outside distractions that you as a player do not have any control over. We need to learn how to deal with them and improve our on course concentration. The game of golf is a mental challenge as well as physical. Don't let the outside distractions impact your golfing outcome. What we deal with on the course is certainly minor compared with the challenge of snakes in the rough.
Club Notes:
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391:
The Mixed Best Ball was held last weekend. Taking first was the team of Paul Harlow and Pat Henry. Second place was decided by a match of cards between the teams of Randy Broekel and Jackie Gaudes and Ray and Tori Belding, with Broekel and Gaudes grabbing second. The August Champ of the Month will continue through this Saturday. The men's and women's senior championship will be played this weekend. Operation Hat Trick was the focus last Friday. With 128 players taking to the course for a two-person scramble, the field played for a great cause in a well organized event. All of those who played and volunteered walked away feeling as if they had won the tournament. NCCC has scheduled aeration for the greens this Monday and Tuesday.
Indian Mound Golf Course, Center Ossipee, (603) 539-7733:
Nine, Wine and Dine saw the team of Tom Loonan, Liz Brown, Don Pepin and Lee Remick take the top honors. Second place was Ken Jones, Joan Loonan and Sue Cayer. In the Rivers Edge Quota, Tom Rogers, Joe St. Lawrence and John Winslow were the winners. Closest to the pin champs were Rob Bodnar and Jim Pearson. The Ladies' League will celebrate their season with a banquet on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The Jody Buzzell Challenge will take place on Aug. 31. This is a nine-hole event to benefit Starting Point. The two-person Bubba League will begin on Sept. 7. This is a six-week league. Call the pro shop to sign up. The Indian Mound Special Olympians brought home gold, silver and bronze in last week's event.
Wentworth Golf Course, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641:
The Jackson 18 will be holding their Club Championship this weekend. The Ladies' League played a "Fours" event last week. Deb Bryant took the top spot. Second place was shared between Fran Baker, Lynne Walker and Kathy Dunne. Week 11 of Red Fox was a Team Quota event. Taking the top spot were the Flyers in 7. Second place was a tie between Murphy's Law, Shanks-A-Lot and the Dukes of Hazards. Individually, long drives went to Moira McCarthy and Tom McDonough. Closest to the pin honors went to Ellie Thompson and Wally Pimental.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090:
The Eagle continues to offer discounted rates every day after 2 p.m when adults play with juniors. The cost is $15 for the adult and $10 for the junior when they play together. A member scramble was held last weekend. The winning team members were Denis Lavoie, Bruce Conley, Nickki D, Joan Doucette and Tina Nicholie. Second place went to Russ Veale, Rich Kardell, and Jeanne Pierce. Pierce also claimed closest to the pin honors. The Tuesday Mixed League saw the team of Russ Veale, Anne Nelson and Nancy Morrison take first. Jeanne Pierce is becoming quite the pin-seeker as she took closest to the pin. In the Thursday Eagle League, it was the team of John and Jeannie Chanley and Jane and Buzz Query taking first with a match of cards. Second place went to Terry Fitzgerald, Rita Stoessel and Haig Zeytoonian. Closest to the pin went to Bruce Libby. The Fall Don Ho will start next Tuesday and Wednesday. Tee time begins at 5 p.m., and the league runs for five weeks. The cost is $65 per player, and teams consist of six players. Call the pro shop to sign up. PGA Pro Bob McGraw will be offering a clinic this Saturday at 11. The focus will be hitting bunker shots, and the class is limited to six students.
19th Hole:
If you think that headphones or earplugs might be the solution to warding off distractions on the course, think again! The Rules of Golf (Rule 14-3) prevents players from using "artificial devices" during a round. Included amongst these devices are anything that tunes out noise or distractions under penalty of disqualification. I wonder, if a player has a hearing aid and he turns it off or fails to wear it during a match, would this qualify as not playing by the rules? Just a thought. Have a great weekend.