From Chicken Soup for the Golfer's Soul The Second Round

When You Wish upon a Par

Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose.

Woodrow Wilson

One defibrillator exhibit was okay, but two? I have enough reminders of where my physical health might be heading every morning when I have to suck it up—and in—to button my pants. The thought of emergency resuscitation is not something I particularly like to be reminded of at a merchandise show. Although with what they were feeding us in the media room, knowing at least one of those machines was close by did offer some comfort when stepping back in the chicken Parmesan line a second time.

I’ve known for some time that what my golf game truly lacks is more gizmos, gadgets, swing aids and nonconforming equipment, so my attendance at golf’s version of Disney World—the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida—was to determine just what it would take to get me closer to the hole and farther away from those defibrillators.

There was a golf glove touted to increase distance ten to twenty yards and prevent a slice. I tried it on, and it immediately slapped me upside the head. Since I’ve always believed that I could cure my slice and play better if someone would just slap me upside the head once in a while, I have to say the product lived up to its billing. I found another glove called the “Knuckle Glove” that helps you maintain a consistent grip on the club, presumably giving you a nice tasty knuckle sandwich every time you regrip at the top of your backswing.

I next strolled past an exhibit featuring miniature golf consultants. I tried to imagine what one of their sales pitches might sound like. (“Well, the clown’s nose and windmill are certainly rich in the traditions of miniature golf, but our research has shown that dinosaurs, action heroes and dragons are trending strong in the market right now.”)

Software is big, of course. One program took your golf score, analyzed it and then gave you tips based on what that analysis suggested. In my case, the tip was to buy one of those gloves that slapped me upside the head to cure my slice. I decided not to buy.

Oh, you can now buy antitheft devices for your clubs. I guess with the price of clubs approaching what you used to be able to buy a car for a generation or so ago, I suppose this is a worthwhile investment. Expect one day to see “The Club” in use at bag drops all across the country, but primarily near urban areas.

You can now earn a degree in professional golf management, from an accredited university no less. The B.G. program (bachelor of golf) probably includes concentrations in such critical areas as how to say “$150, walk or ride” with a straight face. “Optimizing the Routing of the Beverage Cart” and “The 400 Percent Pro Shop Markup: Theory and Practice” no doubt round out the curriculum.

A product will tee the ball up for you on the practice tee, thereby avoiding all that pesky bending and reaching when attempting to get a little recreation and exercise. (Note: See “defibrillators” above.) Another product for the practice tee promises to provide up to twenty-six degrees of cooling in the practice area. Oh, and air-conditioned golf carts are available in selected markets as well. It’s always been a bit of a struggle to work up a sweat in our chosen sport. Soon, apparently, it will be next to impossible.

Myrtle Beach alert: You will no longer have to set the oven in your efficiency on “broil” in order to dry your shoes after a rain-soaked round. A product available now will not only dry your shoes but remove odor as well. That means Big Al no longer has to keep his shoes out on the balcony or windowsill during your annual hajj to the golf Mecca of the universe. And with wet, smelly shoes a thing of the past, figuring out how to stuff four sets of clubs into that Ford Aspire you rented just became easier with a trunk organizer called the Golf Butler. Figure one day the Golf Butler to be equipped with software that will make tee times for you, as well as change twenties into nice crisp ones for the evening’s silicon fantasies at those gentleman’s clubs.

And just what I needed: another swing-training gizmo, this one with two laser beams emitting from the bottom and top of the shaft. The theory is to keep the laser beam on a straight line (represented by a piece of tape stuck to the floor) on the takeaway (the bottom beam at the end of the shaft) and at the top of your swing (the top beam emitting from the top of the grip area). A proper swing will show the laser beams from both positions to remain on the tape. In my own experience, that didn’t happen, but the salesman did say that with my reverse pivot, outside in, flying-elbow swing plane, I probably inadvertently performed a laser eye surgical procedure on myself.

One outfit extolled the virtues of its strengths in financial planning by claiming its goal was to eliminate income taxes, capital gains taxes and wealth-transfer taxes. Utilizing “offshore strategies” was also one of its boasts. I bit my tongue and chose not to ask if they also knew where Hoffa was buried, lest that also entail me to carry an unidentified package through the Miami airport on their behalf.

Back at the Orlando airport, instead, I was having a brew and trying to digest the product and services overload I had experienced the past four days. I felt completely wrung out, head spinning and thoughts reeling over how much golf stuff is out there driving our economy. What if everyone got as upset as me over rotten play and just quit? Hackers, or former hackers, might just bring down the whole global economy. It was a chilling thought.

I looked up from my ruminations and saw a young mom pushing a stroller with a child awash in Disney stuff. I looked at the mom’s face and saw she was the one with the pacifier in her mouth.

I knew exactly how she felt.

Reid Champagne

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