Too Much Information

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I dont want you to tell me how far I am from the hole.
 
Yes, you'the guy with the rangefinder. And, you, the guy with the digital satellite read-out attached to your cart.
 
You are only trying to help. I know that. The technology is terrific. And the potential to speed up play is undeniable.
 
But Im going to say this as politely as I can: I dont need no stinking distance.
 
I prefer to pace the mileage off myself from sprinkler head markings or 150-yard markers and, believe it or not, I sometimes trust my naked eyes.
 
I promise, I can be ready when its my turn without somebody in the group zooming up on a cart and blurting, 124 before I hit. Part of the problem when that happens is I that I have two choices:
 
The first one is to ignore the blurter and appear to be an ingrate. The second one is to stop my pre-shot routine, say thanks, and then begin to wonder whether or not he meant to the front, the middle, the back or to the pin; and whether or not he was taking the wind and the elevation change into account.
 
Are you beginning to get me on this? At least a little?
 
Actually there is a third choice. And thats the point of this column. I can do my own yardages.
 
I have been playing golf for a long time. Some of it good; some of it ordinary; lots of it bad. I am in my 50s. I even get cranky once in a while. I try to be pleasant. But these unsolicited readouts from well-meaning playing partners are making me a little verklempt.
 
Determining my distance and figuring the wind and deciding what shot to play have all, over the years, become part of my pre-shot routine. Take that pre-shot routine away from me and the three and a half to four hours it usually takes groups at my course to complete a round becomes a lot less fun and challenging.
 
What happens is my mind starts to shut off and I become less engaged with the process of the game. Go ahead; accuse me of having some form of attention deficit. But when I know that my yardage is going to be served up on a silver platter, my brain starts to wander. And it starts to focus on all the wrong things'like score; or the putt I missed on the last green; or whats for dinner.
 
Actually the same goes for caddies. As a rule, I think caddies and cops and Irishmen are great. But there are bad caddies, bad cops and bad Irishmen. A bad caddie, to me, is one that fills my head with too much information and insists on reading all my putts.
 
I know, I know. Thats his job. But Id much rather have a caddie who has all the information at the ready but only gives it when asked. If I have a 5-foot putt and Im confident of the speed and the break, I dont want my caddie telling me what I already know.
 
Best caddie I ever had was in Ireland. His name was Paul. He didnt say a word for three holes until I asked him for advice on the fourth. 120 to the pin into the wind, downhill. Plays the true yardage, he said minimalistically.
 
Anything else I should know, I asked.
 
Better to be long than short on this one, he said.
 
Paul was the perfect caddie.
 
While Im complaining, I dont especially want to hear good swing from a player partner during a round. Good shot, is fine. But good swing has just a little too much implication that the complementer thinks he knows a more about the complementees swing than the complementee himself.
 
I noticed Colt Knost said nice swing to his opponent during the finals of the recent U.S. Amateur, won by Knost. And I couldnt help but wonder if his opponent picked up on the nuance.
 
If he did, than hes a little bit more like Felix than Oscar. So am I on the golf course.
 
Well, there. I finally got all that off my chest. You might not feel better. But I do. And, I suspect, there are more than a few of you out there who feel the same way about Too Much Information when you are on the golf course with your friends.
 
I repeat: We know you all are only trying to help. I, too, am certainly guilty, at times, of trying to help too much that way. Im trying to break the habit.
 
But I want to also repeat, as politely as humanly possible: If I need your help on how far I am from the hole, I will ask you.
 
And its my hope, when that happens, you wont tell me to buzz off. If you do, I will do so only if you promise to do the same.
 

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