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San Clemente Journal

Whackers, Hackers & Slackers

Nov 01, 2003 10:05PM ● By Don Kindred
by Maggie Zeibak

     I watched the inner turmoil sweep over Hubby’s face as he came to terms with the joy of sporting enthusiasm and the pressures that commitment brings. Struggling with the idea that he’d be a novice at the game, the long hours of practice needed and lack of equipment, were ego-deflating thoughts at best. How do you plunge into Tiger’s domain and competently chase a little white ball around a course? When would the obsession take hold and when could he be called a real golfer?
     Learning a new skill or sport is challenging; it brings lifestyle changes, frustration and, of course, a dollop of dollars. Noting hubby’s indecision hovering at zero mph, I quickly thought what a great opportunity had presented itself for solving the holiday gift-giving dilemma. Neither of us had the faintest idea about what equipment was needed and the family money trough wasn’t exactly overflowing. Suddenly, giving a wedgie had taken on a totally different meaning.
     Dave Cook, Head-Pro at the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course, came to the rescue. Visiting him in the Pro-Shop helped enormously as he freely gave advice to assist the beginner. 
     Cardinal rule number one, we learned, was never, never buy golf clubs without being measured first. Height and flexibility play a big part in obtaining that perfect swing. That sort of nixed the idea of shopping around garage sales for a cheaper second-hand set. “Not to worry,” said Dave, “before you buy we have a demo program just for this purpose. We can fit and loan you clubs to see how well you adapt to them.” 
     Thus the mysteries of high-lofted woods and wide-soled irons were slowly revealed to the beginner.
     Obviously, with any new venture it is advisable to start off the right way with lessons. The team of Teaching Pros at the 18-hole golf course includes Cook’s sister Linda, and all eager to share their love of the game with patience and enthusiasm. Instruction is $30 per half-hour but a value-loaded six-pack of lessons is $150, reflecting a saving of $30. This seems to be the formula for helping the starting whacker to graduate to a stylish hacker in a reasonably short amount of time.
     But, not so fast, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Hotshot Hubby can’t slack off thinking his lessons entitle him to wear plaid pants right away. Practice, practice and more humiliating practice comes first. That’s when the bargain of the bucket comes in. The bucket of practice balls starts at 25 for $2 or for a cheaper splurge, 75 for $5. What a great way to expend the stresses of the day, smacking away at those Dunlops on the driving range.
     Talking of stresses, what about golf course etiquette? Does range-rage exist? Is a new vocabulary of curses required to be fully accepted by the members? No. Focused golfers do not want to be distracted when they are about to make a shot, so no whoopin’ and hollerin’ is tolerated. Newbies on the course quickly learn that golf is serious business, indeed.
     Taking into to consideration that most men have golf shirts in their closet, it seemed a little extravagant to buy a San Clemente Golf Course logo shirt, but making this kind of investment gives everyone the right to ‘belong’, besides hubby needed a cap as well. Ball markers priced at $2 and a classy $15 divot tool were also on the list of ‘must-haves’.
     Now we just needed to wade through the pricing options which are around $38 for green fees and $12 for a cart weekends, but cheaper during the week. If hubby admits to being a senior he gets a break and as a resident of San Clemente he can buy a resident’s card for $40, valid for one year. Whatever combination we choose it can easily be covered in a gift certificate for any dollar amount.
Lastly, we learned that tee times can be reserved 7-days in advance. A phone call to Tommy Evans, Starter, can reserve your time, Dave assured us. Also, despite ugly rumors that you can never get a tee time at the last moment they do keep a few open slots available for walk-ins. Although, pre-planning is advised. After all, now that Hubby knows the ropes he never knows when Annika Sorenstam will call asking him to pull a few strings.
Contact the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course at 361-8380.