HOW TO ESCAPE THE H(Horribly) B(Boring) G(Golfer)
Author: PAUL DEVERE | Photographer: ROBERT BATES
There you are at a party in Southern Beaufort County. It is spring, a glorious time of year. Flowers are flowering, the temperature has mellowed to something close to perfect. The wine is flowing. The cheese, imported directly from a local Wisconsin cheese factory (which is located in the basement of the house of the host’s brother’s wife’s nephew who has a farm just five miles outside of Neenah in Winnebago County) is excellent. Only one thing mars this most pleasant evening. You have been captured by the least pleasant of guests, the HBG: Horribly Boring Golfer.
You just wanted some melted butter for your shrimp and you hear, “Do you know Bear Creek? Number 18?” D*mn. You know what’s about to happen. You’ve left yourself open and you know better. The HBG is usually a nice guy. You don’t want to hurt his feelings so you smile. He pounces.
The easiest way to define an HBG is by contrast. For example, if you were on a desert island and had to choose to share it with either an insurance actuary who really, really loved his job (no offense) and an HBG, you would quickly pick the actuary, hands down. “Quickly” is the operative word here, because once the HBG starts talking, all is lost.
Here’s the problem (currently your problem) with all HBGs. As the name suggests, they are really, really skull-numbingly boring. According to expert testimony (mine), they are male (99.87 percent), they were a vice president (hence always in second place) in a very successful, though little known, company. And said company paid for the HBG’s membership in some golf club where “business is done,” because he did have a 9 handicap, and the higher ups weren’t quite sure what else to do with him. He, in essence, became the company’s golfer; and understandably, since his career hinged on his handicap, he developed a passion for golf. Way too much passion.
At the drop of a tee, the HBG will describe, in infinitesimal detail, every stroke he took at a specific hole during a recent or distant outing. Every stroke. In detail.
“You see, I had little choice. It was the best drive I made that day, but I had landed left of the fairway bunker, 12 yards short of where I should have been. So I pull out my new….”
Due to your choice of residency (Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Okatie [I’m not exactly sure where Okatie is either]) and its abundance of golf venues, unless you are on your toes, the chance that you will be captured by an HBG at a party is one in five. According to statistics compiled by the National Golf Foundation, a chance encounter with an HBG at a wine and cheese party anywhere else in the world is one in 1,987. Lucky you.
In general, golfers are not bad people (after all, I am one of them). Those who are good enough (and some who aren’t) play in tournaments that benefit local charities. That’s good. Except for the ones in Federal prison, golfers are law abiding citizens who are well enough off (and some who aren’t) to come up with a rather hefty entrance fee for said charity tournaments, which can run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
They can also afford green fees of up to $200 or more at courses they choose to play other than their private venue (virtually all live in gated golf communities). Most golfers are decent people. Very few have raided their children’s college funds to cover those costs (or the cost of a new wedge, a driver and/or putter “guaranteed to knock five strokes off your game”).
Note: The rumor that over the past two decades several graduates from area high schools who were accepted at Harvard, Yale and Princeton but ended up at Daly’s Truck Driving School (a fine educational institution) in Buford, Georgia because their college funds were diverted to open accounts with Edwin Watts Golf has been pretty much debunked. Edwin Watts spokesperson April Rehnquist recently said, “That’s bull! All that college money went to PGA Tour Superstores. We didn’t see a dime!”
Let us return to the party and your “problem.” If you have been captured, know that HBGs are not trolls. They are completely, utterly innocent. They have absolutely no idea they are HBGs, which makes them that much more dangerous. For example, let’s say the wine and cheese party had something to do with St. Patrick’s Day and the napkins were green and you commented on that fact because your conversation with the HBG was going south fast. You see, just mentioning the word “green” is like putting a red cape (or a green cape in this case) in the face of a raging bull.
“Green?” the HBG bellows. “Well, as I was making my approach shot to the green, I so wanted to get to there in regulation. But I landed left, mostly due to the slight breeze, rather than right. My approach was a real challenge, but I plucked up my courage and pulled out my new 56 degree Nike VR Pro Forged Wedge that my son, he’s a truck driver, got me for Christmas. Landed five feet below the pin. The grain was against me, so I knew I had to….”
You are out of wine. Your butter has congealed. The HBG has eaten both his shrimp and yours, while somehow never pausing his narrative (HBGs do have magical powers). But worst of all, you were in the HBG’s bloody foursome at Bear Creek yesterday! You know where his bloody ball landed. You know he got a bloody par, and you ended up with a bloody bogey. But when HBGs get in the zone, they stay in the zone.
Obviously but unintentionally blocking your path of escape, the HBG continues, “Reminded me of my birdie at St. Andrews in 1997, the Old Course. My second trip to Scotland. An impossible shot really. But somehow, using my seven, an old Titleist blade from the fairway at #8….”
This is when you grind your teeth, smile and wonder if you are too old to take up tennis again. And you notice his wine glass has been refilled and yours remains empty. HBGs are diabolical. “And last year’s Pro Am at Harbour Town, well….”
If you do not want to listen to the HBG’s complete narrative of all 18 holes at Harbour Town, stroke by stroke (because this is exactly what you’re faced with), you need a powerful exit strategy. The bathroom won’t work. He’ll follow you in. Even a fake heart attack won’t do. The HBG will thoughtfully accompany you to the hospital in the ambulance. Because he’s NICE. And he would have been just starting on the par 5 #15 with three holes to go.
There is only one escape: Counterattack!
Timing is everything. There will be a dramatic pause as his putt heads toward the hole on #8, the par 4 at Harbour Town, the No. 1 handicap hole. Jump in! Now! Say something like, “Yeah, I birdied #8. We were right behind Bubba Watson at the Pro Am. Long hole. I was going to lay up, but, hey, it’s only a game….” The HBG’s jaw drops. He’s dead in his tracks.
Now move! Pat the HBG on his back and ask if he needs more wine. Or cheese. Or shrimp. And simply walk away.