Golf is a game of numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. If you like numbers then golf is your game.
Golfers may only carry 14 clubs. Balls and clubs are numbered. We play in groups called twosomes, threesomes and foursomes. We have tee times. Courses have numerical ratings and players’ skill levels are measured by way of a handicap — a number, of course. Each hole is numbered and is measured in yards. To keep score we count all of our strokes. Well, most of them anyway.
Go into a clubhouse of any golf course and listen to the conversation. I’ll bet you hear things like: “I shot an 85 today. You should have taken a two-stroke penalty on the fifth hole. Next time we play you’ll have to give me four strokes. I had a three, not a four, on the eighth hole.” And it goes on and on.
Here are some figures about golf in the United States for those who just can’t get enough:
26.2 million: golfers.
$40: The average green fee.
22 percent: Golfers who are female.
16,057: Golf facilities.
$24.3 billion: What golfers spend a year on equipment and fees.
500,000: Rounds of golf played per year.
100: Average 18-hole score.
GOLF, CHINESE STYLE Having trouble getting a decent tee time? I may have the solution. It will cost you a few bucks, and you’ll have to do some traveling, but you will be able to play whenever you want. Bob and Dale Kroepel of Southold recently returned from a trip to China. Bob, an avid golfer, gave me the Chinese golf report. “The golf courses are spectacular and the best thing is they’re empty,” Bob said. “No one is on them.”
How can a country of over 1.3 billion people have empty golf courses? It just might be the average green fee cost of $161 per round. That’s a lot of Yuans, but you’ll have the course to yourself.
CHIP SHOTS The PGA of America is having a “Growth-of-the-game initiative” for the month of May. PGA professionals will offer a free 10-minute golf lesson to reach new golfers and help existing players improve their game. Be sure to check with your PGA professional to make sure they are participating in the program.
Here’s a nifty little product I ran across. You can now personalize your ball mark with this simple ball-marking system. Choose from many design themes such as animals, patriotic, religious, etc. If you find a ball with a shamrock on it, that’s mine. For information contact: tin-cup.com.
A good read for the golf history buff is “Miracle At Merion” by David Barrett (Skyhorse Publishing). Barrett tells the story of Ben Hogan’s victory at the 1950 U.S. Open after Hogan suffered a near-fatal automobile crash the year before. Also by David Barrett, a great Father’s Day gift, “Golfing With Dad” (Skyhorse Publishing). The author shares stories from tour pros such as Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd and Tom Watson telling of their golf-related memories with their fathers.
19TH HOLE Golf can be a good investment for your health according to a study from a Swedish medical university. The study says that golfers live an average of five years longer than non-golfers. Bill Pennington of The New York Times thinks he knows why. “Golfers are hard to surprise and know how to adjust. And golf is good preparation for life’s vagaries — even when no one yells, ‘Fore!’ ”
UPCOMING OUTINGS The 2011 ELIH Golf Classic will be held Wednesday, June 8, at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on Shelter Island. This year the event will honor Raymond W. Terry Jr. For more information call (631) 477-5164.