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Point Counterpoint

Should golfers have to pay the bar tab after making a hole-in-one?


There are cer- tain rules in life. If obeyed, they make the world

a better place. Opening the door for

a woman—it’s the gentle- man’s code. Letting others off an elevator before you get on—people, we’re try- ing to have a society here. And perhaps the most

important rule of civilized existence: Always ensur- ing you carry your weight at a watering hole when it comes to buying rounds. I lived in Ireland for

six months, and that’s the most important lesson I gleaned. The fi ne art of understanding your friend’s thirst, timing your purchase in advance so your friend’s thirst is met punctually and doing so without prompting is the bedrock of neighborly and loving behavior on this planet. That all goes double for

you lucky sons of guns who makes holes-in-one. (And I’ll have a double when you do buy, thank you.) The golf gods blessed

you, my friend. A hole- in-one is not so much the product of skill—sure, your club selection was impor- tant; sure, your swing was a good one; sure, you read the wind correctly—as it

20 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2011

is an incredible chunk of good fortune.

The width of a golf hole is 4 and 1/4 inches. You are sending a golf ball 1.68 inches in diameter at that hole, often from distances of up to 200 yards. Do the math. Your

chances of an ace are about as good Phil Mickelson driving past a Five Guys Burgers without stopping. So now you’ve done it.

You’ve made your hole-in- one, experienced your once- in-a-lifetime moment, and you now have two obliga- tions: 1. Turn to the nearest person and exercise the always awkward “golf high fi ve,” an only-in-golf occur- rence where the high-fi ver and high-fi vee always seem to miss each other’s hands at moment of impact, resulting in an arrhythmic, jabbing motion that sets back the reputations of golfers-as- athletes. And 2. Buy a round. I mean it. For everyone. A gigantic gust of—let’s

say it—blind luck has just blown your way, and it is imperative for all karmic reasons that you recognize the opportunity to spread the positive energy forward. Or, to put it in ways that sound less like a Marin

County Zen master: Do the right thing, buddy. Yes, it can be an expen-

sive proposition. Say there are 40 members at your local club bar, or muni bar, relaxing, playing dice, avoiding their spouses, and you tell the barkeep to set ’em up, Joe, for each and every one. A beer could run $5, a mixed drink closer to $8. Let’s say half get each. That’s a tidy $260 round, plus tip. You might be out three hundy, and undoubtedly, in these tough economic times, that’s no gimme. Think of it, however,

as an investment in your karmic future. By doing so, you will

honor the benevolence of the golf gods who made you the luckiest sucker of the day. By doing so, you will set an example for anybody in the bar who one day may have that same great luck. By doing so, you will be quenching thirsts and show- ing all that, indeed, it takes a village to drink an ace. Besides, ponder the

alternative. Consider the behavior of the golfer who makes his or her hole-in- one, then skulks past the clubhouse bar en route to the parking lot for a trunk-slam and an exit with

a clean bar tab. Or even worse, celebrating by heading into the clubhouse bar, announcing to the bar- man your accomplishment, then adding: “I’ll have one beer, please.”

That would be golf course behavior lower than the nematode.

This is a global issue.

Word out of North Korea is that the pint-sized “Dear Leader” made fi ve holes-in- one in his fi rst-ever round, a fact reported breathlessly by the North Korean media. However, there was no mention from that same media report of the Mighty Mite buying any rounds, much less fi ve of them. And you think it’s a coincidence North Korea is commonly considered the world’s most isolated country?

This gets back to the

lesson of the Irish. There is a powerful gesture in taking care of thy neighbor’s pint. It lets him or her know that you’re all in this thing together, that as cold as the nights get and as lonely as this trail of tears called life can sometimes be, your cup runneth over with good cheer. Besides, not buying a

round after an ace means you’re the same person who strolls on to the elevator without waiting for me to get off. That’s a two-stroke penalty in the game of life, so spread the good cheer friends.

Brian Murphy hosts the KNBR morning show “Murph and Mack” and was the San Francisco Chronicle’s golf writer from 2001-2004.

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