Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Stimulus Package

I think I’ve come up with a way to help the economy and, at the same time, improve the golf scores of the average player. In fact, this may be one of the reasons that has kept me from becoming a professional golfer.

OK, I can hear those of you who have seen my golf game and the snide remarks about my handicap, my swing, my age and everything else that deals with my driving, short game and putting. Those are mere details…hear me out.

The only people who stand to lose from my idea are the manufacturers of golf balls. But given the current state of the golfing industry and the scarcity of duffers on most golf courses in the area, I’m sure the Titleists and Nikes of the world would welcome a compromise of having more golfers.

Here’s the idea: what does every pro golfer have that no one this side of Jack Nicklaus has on any public course in the area – someone to watch where their ball lands.

Think about it. From Pebble Beach to Bethpage, the pros have people lined up and down the fairway just waiting to not only point out where their ball has landed, but to encircle it as if they were pointer dogs. And, get this, the better you are, the more people you have looking for your ball! Do you sense a trend here?

How many strokes does the average golfer take on any given round due to lost balls? Four water balls?  Three in the rough? You get the idea.

So here’s my suggestion – in these difficult economic times, instead of having people holding billboards at every intersection advertising the last three days of still another “Everything-Must-Go” mattress sale, let’s have the area golf courses hire them as ball spotters.

They don’t have to line the entire fairway – simply put them at strategic points along the way – say for instance, the 200 yard mark where they just happen to have the first set of bunkers and that overgrown crud known as the rough.

Have another positioned at the edge of the water. Sure, some of the balls will go over their heads and straight into the drink, but the ones that always seem to land and then trickle down and fall into the murky depths – hey, they can stop those. Sure, the golfer has to drop, but at least he’s got the original ball.

I’ve been through rough economic times in my career and I know what it’s like to welcome a part-time job. I’d much rather be out on a golf course doing basically the same job that volunteers at the Memorial Tournament line up in droves to participate in as one of the fairway crew.

Sure, there’s probably a minimal health risk associated with putting yourself in the line of fire of errant tee shots. But just think how many people put themselves in harm’s way by dressing up as giant rabbits and standing along Sawmill Road.

OK, at the end of the day it helps me shave six or seven strokes off my game. No, that’s not going to put me even close to the ranks of a professional. If I’m lucky, it will help me break a hundred. That’s par in my book. With the average cost of a box of balls being $25, I’ve also maybe saved myself $12. Not bad really, when you take in the cost of a round of golf.

It would certainly be enough incentive to bring me back more than once and if you multiply that scenario by 50 or 100 (a rather conservative estimate of the number of golfers who would think the six or seven strokes and the savings were significant), you’d definitely make it worth the golf course’s cost of hiring the ball spotters.

But more important, imagine this. You’re standing on the 1st tee at Raymond Memorial staring at a moderate Par 5. Your tee shot caroms off the cart path and heads towards the huge clump of trees on the right. Just as you’re about to unleash that first “expletive deleted,” you look up and see a man holding an orange flag indicating that he’s found your ball. No penalty stroke. No lost ball.

Of course, there’s no smattering of applause and no huge throngs. Just a gainfully employed person who’s possibly helped you avoid a penalty stroke and saved you a couple of dollars.

Tipping is optional.