Do you speak golf?

August 11, 2016

Last September, while visiting my wife’s relatives in Cornwall, England, I played a round of golf with family and friends at Carlyon Bay Golf Club, located by the St. Austell Bay. The front nine borders the cliff, running the entire length of each fairway and each hole has a magnificent view of the North Atlantic. The back nine weaves through the wooded countryside and I envisioned Robin Hood and his merry men hunting deer and fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham five hundred years ago. (OK, I know Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest which is four hours away by train. But he might have gone there on vacation.)

After the round, my wife asked me how I enjoyed playing golf in England, so instead of giving you the answer in English (see 19th Hole Trivia for the answer), I’m going to explain my round in golf language. For you novice golfers, I will decipher the golf language at the end of my story.

At the pro shop I rented clubs and picked up a scorecard, which had the routing on it with the name and yardage (not meters) on it.

As I stepped onto the first-hole tee box, a par four (named Carlyon at 366 yards), I pulled out the big dog and hit a hook into the jungle and had to take a drop, but managed to make a bogey. The stroke index for this hole was ten.

On hole number three, a par three (named Shorthorn at 164 yards), I hit a spade mashie, which resulted in a jumper. After chipping back onto the green, I had a putt lip out for another bogey.

On hole number four, a par five (named Main Line at 504 yards), I hit a banana ball over the cliff off the tee and my wife’s cousin told me it landed on the nude beach, which was 200 feet below us (after the round I was actually tempted to go look for the ball, but was afraid of where it might have landed).

On the fairway I noticed that a friend of the family hit a double D and later made a long putt for birdie, which made me wonder if he was a sandbagger. Not to be out done by a Brit, I used my spoon, which came up about 30 yards short of the hole, since I didn’t hit it on the horizontal bulge.

After a chili-dip, my next shot landed on the frog hair, and three putts later I had a snowman and a lost ball in Cornwall’s premiere nude beach.

Things settled down until the twelfth hole, a par four (named Clay Dry at 342 yards), where I pulled out my chicken stick and hoped for the best, but my second shot landed in a pot bunker and even worse, ended up as a fried egg.

I played my third shot out sideways and my ball ended up under gorse, which made it almost unplayable, but I decided to hit a chocked down niblick and to my amazement the ball ended up on the green.

After a snake, which actually dropped in from the back door, I managed another bogy….take that Henrik Stenson.

On Fir Copse, hole number fifteen, a par five at 533 yards, I hit an Oscar Brown tee shot, took a drop, then landed in the kitty litter midway down the fairway. My fifth shot was on the apron, so I pulled out my Texas wedge, gripped the leather and hoped my flat stick would do the job. It didn’t, I ended up with another snowman.

At the end of the round I was amazed to find that I had nine good holes versus nine bad holes. Take out the Army golf, worm burners and snowmen on the bad nine, and then add in five levels and four bogeys and I was proud of my effort in Cornwall.

Now for the translation: Routing: the course layout; big dog: the driver; jungle: the deep rough; stroke index: handicap; spade mashie: six iron; jumper: a shot that flies over the green; lip out: a putt that rims the hole, but does not fall; banana ball: a slice; double D: hit your driver off the tee and fairway; sandbagger: a golfer who hides his true handicap; spoon: a three wood; horizontal bulge: the curve of the sweet spot; chicken stick: using an iron, instead of your driver; chili-dip: hitting behind the ball and taking too much turf; frog hair: slightly taller grass around the green; snowman: a triple bogey; pot bunker: a small sand trap, usually about 100 feet deep; fried egg: when your ball is half buried in the sand; gorse: small prickly bush; niblick: a nine iron; snake: a long, winding putt; Henrik Stenson: winner of the British Open in 2016; Oscar Brown: rhymes with out of bounds; back door: when your putt rolls around the hole and drops in from the rear; kitty litter: sand; Texas wedge and flat stick: your putter; leather: putter grip to measure gimme putts; Army golf: hitting from right to left on the fairway; worm burner: a ball hit low to the ground and level, which means to shoot par on any hole.

19th Hole trivia

• After all was said and done, my score with rented clubs on the Cornwall cliffs and rolling hills was 92. I actually won two pounds on the round.

• Robin Hood’s sidekick was Little John, not to be confused with a petite porta-potty, found on a low-budget golf course.

• My wife’s family lives five minutes from Carlyon Bay Golf Course, Cornwall in a village named – are you ready? – Par.

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