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Tee up for ugly swings, club throwing

HAL LENOBEL
Contributing Columnist
golf@lbknews.com

Most of us enjoy watching a long drive competition. We just love to see a brute of a man swing a club, coming out of his shoes and driving a ball 390 yards. Last week, a long drive contest was won by a ball hit 409 yards. Well, here are some other contests I’d like to see, and you take your pick.

 

The All-You-Can-Eat Invitational
Competitors play the front nine without food or liquid of any type. At the turn, they get 10 minutes to consume whatever they can. Whoever takes in the most calories wins. Viewers would sit captivated as one type of chip gives way to another and players temporarily stop thinking about open clubfaces to devour open-face clubs. A riveting format because it combines modern athletic fortitude with the primitive instinct to eat and run.

 

Club-Throwing Open
The sight of a golf ball gracefully cleaving the air is matched only by that of a 3-wood helicoptering down the fairway after its owner has finally snapped. Club throwing is an underappreciated skill whose roots are as old as the game itself, and the best performers are waiting to be discovered (though one must scour the public courses to find them). Points would be awarded not only for distance but also for style. Retired Olympic hammer throwers would find new jobs as coaches. Prizes would include a free supply of breakable woods and a year’s worth of anger management counseling.

 

Closest-to-the-Hole Challenge
Gripping in its simplicity, this competition borrows a page from snooker: sinking the white ball is a no-no. The point here is to get the ball as close to the hole as possible without sinking it. Since this happens on a regular basis anyway, why not reward those who can do it best?

 

Late-Slice Tourney
With so many recreational golfers taking to the links today, impressive slices can be found almost anywhere. In fact, a respectable slice practically distinguishes the recreational golfer from everyone else in the world.

But it takes true skill to nail a drive that appears good, only to swerve left or right near the end of its path.

This competition rewards those who can keep their drives straight the longest before banking out of sight forever. Winner receives 20 free golf lessons, a compass and a year’s supply of Top-Flite XL3000 Super Straight balls.

 

Ball-Moving Invitational
During golf’s infancy, the challenge of distracting playing partners while kicking one’s ball to a favorable spot was an evolving skill that demanded little creativity. But these days, golfers are more attuned to one another’s tricks. In this exhilarating competition, players attempt to use a foot wedge to knock their balls out of deep divots, thick rough and impossible lies without others seeing.

Points are awarded based on the distance the ball is moved and how close other players are when the successful cheater executes his deception. Getting caught entails a stroke penalty and removal of one club from the offender’s bag.

 

Wrong-Club Match
This is a skins format. This time with the following wrinkle: Each golfer gets to choose the club the golfer ahead of him uses for every shot, putts excluded. Each club may be chosen only once on a given hole. Imagine Tiger Woods walloping a pitching wedge off the tee, Phil Mickelson trying to finesse a 60-yard chip shot with a two-iron or Lora Ochoa studying a downhill pitch-and-run while holding a 5-wood. Who wouldn’t like to see that?

 

Ugly-Swing Open
The growing popularity of golf has led to a marvelous array of horrendous swings in almost infinite variety. Isn’t it time the worst of them were recognized? In this competition, awful swings from all over the world would be judged according to their components — clumsiest backswing, most awkward weight transfer, shoddiest body alignment, most erratic follow-through — as well as for overall hideousness.

The contest would be conducted in progressive elimination rounds, followed by a dramatic playoff. The competition has automatic integrity because, as all players know, you can’t fake a bad golf swing any easier than you can correct it. In addition to prize money, the winner would receive a Golf Swing Trainer aid, a swing analysis system and a copy of the DVD, “Golf for the Horrid.” There is also a small stipend of $11.50 never to play in public again.

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