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Yvonne Abraham

Steady course of boredom

By Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist / July 31, 2011

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There are two types of people in this world: people who play golf, and people who don’t.

I’m definitely a don’t.

Not to overstate this, but as I see it, golf is the dumbest game on earth: the tiny balls, the ridiculous array of coddled clubs, the outfits, the cultish rules, the hours spent trampling perfectly lovely picnic spots.

Absurd.

The only element of the sport to which I have ever related was when Tiger’s then-wife Elin used one of the no-good cheater’s irons to smash a window on his SUV, though I’m told this event was not part of the official PGA tour.

More mystifying than actually playing golf: watching it on TV. The endless screens of green are like those Living Fireplace DVDs, but with less action. Zzzzzz.

As luck would have it, I live 15 steps from a public golf course. It might as well be another planet (one which regularly drops dimpled, white space junk into my rhododendrons).

Every day as I gaze upon the aliens trying to sink the ball at the sixth hole (I know it’s the sixth because I just went out and asked one of them), I thank heaven that I don’t have the kind of job where I’m expected to don goofy shoes and do deals on the green.

But there are other poor souls who don’t have my good fortune, though they do have many times my annual income.

Pity the non-golfing corporate types, who live in a world where titans decide our fates as they strive for birdies. Spare a thought for the chumps whose bosses order them into tournaments to please clients, even though the only thing they know about the game is that they’re awful at it.

According to the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton, this is a real problem.

And so they’ve come up with a program called the Academy Membership, where they teach people how to avoid humiliation on the fairways. For $1,250 a year instructors at the very beautiful club help the golf-averse confront their bogey-men (cheesy golf pun!).

There are cocktail parties to learn about etiquette. And cheat sheets, sent out each Monday morning, to help students fake it at the water cooler.

“Boy oh boy, I sure do hope they get that debt ceiling raised before our bonuses dip into six figures. . . . And did you know the chance of two holes-in-one in a single round are approximately 67 million to one? . . . Would I like a promotion? Why, yes, don’t mind if I do!’’

If I were a corporate type, I’d be all over this place. But could Ferncroft really golfify even me?

Bless head pro Phil Leiss. On a recent Monday, this gentle Job tried his heart out, patiently explaining the thumb-under-palm grip, the importance of follow-through, and other mysteries.

My first at-bat was as humiliating as I’d expected, but Leiss was very encouraging, and eventually, club met ball. The thwack was very satisfying. I could have spent all morning whacking ball after ball.

But that wouldn’t be golf, would it? The ridiculously tiny white orb has to get somewhere, and this proved beyond my ability, and my patience. As quickly as it surged, the thrill was gone.

Then, on the green, Leiss started with the etiquette: Don’t hit the ball into the group ahead of you; never run; fix your divots; don’t walk between another player’s ball and the hole, lest you dent the grass.

Dent the grass? This was like going to my grandmother’s house, where the sofas were covered in plastic. Sure, you could sit on them, but it wasn’t very relaxing. Your nerves always got the better of you, and you knew that, sooner or later, your Kool-Aid would land on the rug.

Except in golf, what hits the turf isn’t Kool-Aid, but tears.

Of boredom.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at abraham@globe.