We’ve become an ungrateful bunch. Instead of cherishing the good, we belabor the bad. We complain about the Wi-Fi stalling out, oblivious to the miracle of the Internet. Talk crap about our jobs without referencing its steady income. Traffic, sports, politics: moan, moan, moan. And God only knows the struggle of sitting on an airport runway.
Which is why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s a respite from groaning, where gratitude takes center stage. That attitude applies to golf, for I’ve been guilty of bellyaching just as much as anyone.
In keeping with Thanksgiving tradition, here are the things I’m most thankful for from the world of golf:
- Gimme Putts
And we’re guessing Alison Lee does, too.
2. Online tee-time reservation sites
For those too poor to afford a country club (me) and/or procrastinate in making a tee time earlier in the week (me, again), these websites are a gift from the golf gods. It can be a roll of the dice; in many ways, it’s like TJ Maxx: If you’re trying to find a specific, particular item, you may be disappointed, but if casually browsing, you’ll likely find something that fits your fancy. As long as you don’t mind the spontaneity of the process, booking a time online should be right up your alley.
And no, this wasn’t a paid, sponsored content endorsement.
3. Masters week
Where to begin? It’s the best golf course in the world, and the same sentiment can be applied to its condition. Forget sporting events; it’s the most efficiently run event in this country PERIOD. Every element of Augusta is draped in tradition; the Par 3 Contest has more history than most tournaments. The small field all but guarantees a big-name winner, and the course layout ensures an exciting finish.
In short: If there is a heaven, then the Pearly Gates are located at 2604 Washington Road.
4. Breakfast balls
How to know your friend’s a keeper: He/she motions for a reload after your first shot of the day finds the parking lot. As Euripides said, “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.”
5. Weekday outings
The snow days of adulthood. Bonus points if they reside on a Friday.
6. Night Golf
If you’ve only swung a club in sunlight, you’re missing out.
Amateurs competing in majors
While Jordan Spieth was the main storyline at St. Andrews, the competitive showings of Paul Dunne and Jordan Niebrugge were right up there in narrative excitement. Granted, these guys are professionals-in-training, yet there’s undoubtedly a romanticized feeling when an “(A)” name designation appears on the scoreboard.
It even inspires the ephemeral hope that you, too, watching at home, can compete with the big boys. All you need is a little practice around the greens, more mental focus, a better diet and stretching regimen, and — BOOM — you’d be walking up the 18th fairway as Jim Nantz pontificates a Nantzism on your historic victory (which, in my case, would be along the lines of, “An Un-BEALL-ievable moment!!!).
Then you remember you couldn’t break par at the member-guest and think, “Na.”
7. 16th hole at Phoenix
The antithesis of golf etiquette, decorum and civility…and, remarkably, it’s universally beloved by everyone in the game.
8. Cart girls
Admittedly, I always resented this profession growing up, due to making minimum wage on maintenance duty while those manning carts would pull in $35 per hour off tips. But this summer, most of my golf was played at a course without coolers, and on the days I forgot to pack my own water bottle — which was often — seeing the silhouette of the snack truck approaching from the distance turned me into Andy Dufresne after his Shawshank escape.
Be it equipment, books, programs, clothes, tickets, even vacations, eBay is the Elysium of golf memorabilia. If you’re ready to go down this rabbit hole, Matt Rudy’s work is a weekly source for these finds.
10. John Daly
The big guy gave us a scare this summer, collapsing at an event in Mississippi. From his outlandish ensembles to his penchant for belting out “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the game is always a bit more colorful when Daly’s around. Moreover, there’s something to be said for a person who can energize a gallery with his mere appearance, and in terms of treating fans, Daly has no peer on the PGA Tour.
Here’s hoping for a clean bill of health for JD for 2017.
11. Club Pro Guy Twitter account
Crass, irreverent, offensive, demeaning. Our kind of guy.
12. Televised golf at bizarre hours
The British Open is the annual model for its early-morning showcase on the East Coast, but 2015 gave us a prime-time U.S. Open and a deep-into-the-night Presidents Cup broadcast. Even the British Open got into the act — albeit briefly — with its 1:30 a.m. EST Saturday-morning start.
There is nothing better for a golfer’s confidence than a scramble . It’s easy to dismiss awful shots (“Well, clearly I was just being overly aggressive because of the format, you guys”), putting transforms from the bane of your existence to a shared struggle and every decent knock is treated like MacArthur returning to the Philippines.
14. Dash Day
Fact: Golf viewership among females audiences has soared 784 percent, strictly at the prospect of seeing Lil’ Day running across the 18th green. Even Keely Levins, who makes the Grinch look amicable, lights up like a Christmas tree at Dash sightings.