Only in Golf: The Handicap Case and Other Oddities
The trial took twenty one days, and the verdict wasn’t reached for another two weeks. The six year claims of libel were dismissed, and news of the decision was so secret that it was delivered to the plaintiff in an envelope by the court. Another case for Perry Mason? That depends on the quality of his golf game. The Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, County Dublin was recently sued for a sum of 13.2 million (Euros, one would assume) for the damaged reputation of retired insurance official Thomas Talbot – by lowering his golf handicap.
The 75 year-old golf devotee was happily swinging away at a 21 handicap, and feeling just fine about it, when suddenly, despite the process taking several years, his handicap at the club was relisted at 13, a reduction of 7.7, to be exact. To claim a 21 handicap on a par 72 course indicates that one generally shoots around 93. A 13 handicap suggests something around 85 – huge difference, if you live in or anywhere near my world. Not only did Talbot sue the club, but the former handicap secretary as well, claiming that friends would no longer play with him, and that he had been labeled a “cheat.”
I wonder what it was that people were noticing about Talbot’s play that brought about this accusation of “sandbagging.” Was he offering large wagers, then winning everything? Well, in the end, the court wouldn’t buy it. The libel charge was dismissed, but the lesson is clear. Nobody takes their golf game more seriously than an Irishman.
In other strange occurrences, golfers in southern California experienced one for the grandchildren on the San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano. It’s an ocean side course, with all of the beautiful views, smells and creative hole design that such a setting can bring – not to mention the wildlife. I’m sure, however, that players would prefer that life forms remain in their milieu, but “fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,” and they did at San Juan Capistrano.
A two-foot shark fell out of the sky onto the twelfth tee, where a group had just vacated the premises. Apparently, the creature (not a true fish – osteichythes – but a fish with cartilage for skeleton – chondrichthyes) was picked up out of the ocean by a sea-going bird and dropped on the way to dinner. He was taken from the course by employees, put in a bucket of sea water, and returned to the ocean, all in all a good day for the shark. In all the reports, however, I believe that the central question was missed. If one is going to run the risk of this sort of thing happening, just by going out and playing an innocent round of golf, I don’t care what kind of “icthyes” he is. I want to know what kind of prehistoric leviathan is flying around dropping sharks onto golfers.
In a more poetic observation, it was my pleasure to come across a photo at the Salonpas Cup Championship of Japan. I was not aware that this tournament is one of Japan’s four majors, initiated by Nippon Television in 1973, and elevated to major status in 2008. Morgan Pressel won it in 2010, Annika in 2003, and Karrie Webb won it twice in ‘01 and ’02. But the cool thing about the Salonpas? Get a load of this gorgeous trophy. The photographer who took the shot wondered at its cultural significance, and I have one or two theories. The first suggests that the trophy is a tribute to the earliest, most ancient versions of the modern golf bag. Other than that, it might have served in ancient times as the middle size bucket at the driving range. It’s beautiful nonetheless.
The moral of the story this week is – be true to your game when reporting your handicap, especially if your Irish, institute shark repellent or a spear gun as a regular part of your California golf regimen, and always try to find new, beautiful things about the game. They’re everywhere.