If God Was My Caddie

I played my first round of golf the other day and I have to say I didn't embarrass myself. Of course it helps that there was no one on the course to see me other than my brother and he was in a charitable mood. Either that or he lost his sense of humor. Either way, I'm grateful.

Admitting that I played is a tough thing for me, since I've always thought golf to be a silly game, this in spite of the fact that Tiger Woods makes more money by waking up in the morning than I'll earn in my life. It's expensive, it's not a lot of exercise, I look really bad in green and yellow plaid, and I'm always afraid I'll run into my banker. Or feel bad because I should run into my banker but I don't have one. I bet Tiger has a whole slew of them.

But golf is changing. Even rebellious rock 'n rollers are hitting the links. Sure they're also letting their music be used to sell cars, get people into Target stores, and peddle computer operating systems which after 15 years of refinement still crash hourly, but why let the fact that they're destroying our musical memories stand in the way of making money?

I scoffed when Hootie of Blowfish fame said he loves to play golf. I cringed when Iggy Pop confessed that he does it all the time. And the very idea that this year was the fifth MTX/Alice Cooper Celebrity Amateur tournament--and that Cooper's done ads for Calloway golf clubs--was enough to make me feel like I'd been welcomed to my nightmare.

But considering I've jumped out of an airplane, hung with sharks 100 feet under water, and driven the L.A. freeways during rush hour, I figured I could summon up the courage to hit a little white ball with a stick. My only disappointment is that in nine holes I didn't get a hole in one.

To be honest, I didn't expect to, though it would have been nice. It would have made my day, given me something to laud over my brother forever, and been the perfect excuse never to play again since I'd already accomplished the ultimate. But the odds were against me.

According to the National Hole-In-One Foundation (motto: "You never get a second chance to hit a hole in one.") the odds of an amateur doing this are 1 in 12,600, or about the same as me and J.Lo spending Christmas with her family. This means that if you hit 12,600 balls off the same tee, one of them should go in. Since a bucket of balls costs $4, theoretically anyone could become a member of the hole-in-one club for a maximum of $1680, which incidentally is the cost of a round of golf at Pebble Beach. At midnight. When it's raining.

Another way to ensure hitting a hole in one is to have good friends in high places, and what higher friend could you have in your corner than God? Okay, maybe Robert Downey, Jr. is higher, but that's different. Besides, he'd only be a plus if you were looking for high friends in good places.

This seems to have worked for Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit--the God connection, not the Downey one--who just last week sank a hole in one. He says he didn't do anything special, like pray over the ball, clean it with holy water, or create a diversion by yelling, "Look! The Pope's singing Because I Got High." while an altar boy dropped a ball in the hole. But face it, he had help. After all, you don't get that high up the church's organizational chart the same way you get good roles in Hollywood. You know, by having a good agent. You do it by having friends in high places.

Despite his denials, people are probably already start flocking to the course hoping to duplicate his feat. Or at least get a glimpse of the Virgin Mary on a rusty golf cart, a divot that looks like Mother Theresa, or the brand new golf balls mysteriously signed by Ben Hogan. To his credit, Maida didn't do it for the money--it was a benefit. Of course that probably didn't stop him from giving his caddy a good tip: Don't lie, cheat, or covet another man's wife or you'll wind up in hell.

A few days later and a couple hundred miles away, Michael Grimaldi did win money for getting a hole in one. A cool million bucks. Unfortunately he won't be seeing any of it since he was playing as a representative of his employer, General Motors, and their policy is to put golf winnings into a legal defense fund in case they discover that they too were using those cool self-destructing tires Firestone makes. Just kidding. Actually Firestone quit making them. The truth is, GM is donating the money to charity. Obviously Grimaldi doesn't have the connections the cardinal does.

It's hard to say whether I'll make it back to a golf course or not since I wasn't bitten by the bug. I'm not thinking about putting spikes on the bottom of my Chuck Taylor All-Star black monochrome high-tops. And I'm not using my tax refund check as a down payment on three weeks at Alice Cooper's Golf Skills and Doll Decapitation Camp. But I might go ahead and hit a bucket of balls from time to time. After all, the sooner I start working my way through those 12,600 the sooner, God willing, I'll get that hole in one.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

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