Long before the godsend which is the golf cart, the caddies were on borrowed time. Their insinuations on topics irrelevant to our game rubbed us the wrong way. Yet, we might be employing them still if we hadn’t discovered Tips for Better Golf, a pamphlet badly written and sloppily typed, then repeatedly xeroxed until it was barely legible, apparently distributed from caddy to caddy by hand, presumably a joke. Its advice to golfers includes the following: Caddies work for tips, not for hearty handshakes, your warm thanks, or advice on how to write a college application. No, it’s not your imagination: the courses you play are not congenial to cultural minorities. At most clubs, you will encounter the ethnic “other” only at curbside, at tableside, or in the parking lot. At better courses, an attendant may wash your clubs at the end of your heroic round. Do not take it personally if he polishes your club heads by spitting on them. Empty your mind of conscious thought as you address the ball: it will not improve your game to consider the hundreds of acres of virgin timber the developer bulldozed to produce this grassy diorama with its little flags. The golf course is as much a nature preserve as your home aquarium is the sea. Don’t fool yourself that you’re getting any exercise. It is also bad form to complain to people who do real work about any injuries you may sustain. While it is true that what you paid for your round could feed a Polynesian family for weeks, it’s unlikely they would have gotten the money anyway. If you are lucky enough to find your balls on the fairway, be thankful. You are a winner. Pick them up and go home. Don’t forget to tip your caddy.

Copyright ©1999-2006 David Hodges

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