Article Overview:   What is the relationship between corking a golf club and a baseball bat?   When the Beast of Terror takes up golf, and starts to steal the credibility of this great sport, maybe it's time for all of us to become Sentinels of Vigilance.


Thursday--July 3, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 659
Terror On The Golf Course
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 3, 2003-- The Beast of Terror is stalking America's golf courses, carrying with him or her a lethal weapon that injects Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into all who love the sport and its Principles of Vigilance.

    The Terror-weapon is called "cheating."
    Golf, one of the most-played sports in the world, draws more than 27 million players a year to hack, putt and drive the ball to glory over America's 17,000 golf courses.  Millions more watch televised challenges as the top members of the Professional Golf Association(PGA), and its female counterpart, the LPGA, swing at a ball about the size of half-dollar, each pro attempting to score less than all the other competitors.
     Patriotic terms are used such as "birdie" and "eagle."   A "birdie" is earned for putting the ball in the hole one-stroke less than "par," and, for the "eagle," to drop the golf ball into the "cup" with two strokes less than "par."
     This hallowed sport started in Scotland with a leather ball full of compressed feathers; it is now under Terror-attack not by some foreign invader, but from within its own ranks. 
       In a rush to capture the multi-millions of dollars in prize money and endorsements, some players are making a pact with the Beast of Terror to unfairly edge out their competitors by using illegal clubs that boost the ball and give it more distance and accuracy than their fellow pros.  Similar to baseball, the golfers are "corking" their clubs.

Slamming Sammy Sosa was busted for using a "corked" bat

      Homerun hero, Sammy Sosa, was recently busted for using a "corked" bat.   Players doctor the innards of the wood in a baseball bat by drilling a hole in the top and inserting a springy material so the ball can be hit farther than with a "regulation" bat.   Sousa was caught when one of his bat's broke, spilling the viscera of the wounded wood  onto the field for the world to witness that one of the world's best and honored players was victim of the Beast of Terror.
      Competitive "weapon tampering" isn't just the privy of baseball.
      The PGA smells a pack of rats in the golf bags of their professional golfers.
      Golf rules limit the spring like effect of the golf face when it makes contact with the ball so that a player can't have a technological advantage over others.   To contest the use of illegal clubs was a lugubrious process, requiring the clubs be sent to a special United States Golf Association  laboratory for inspection and testing.
      Now, the PGA has come up with a method to test clubs on the spot with what is called a Pendulum Tester.  Only, there's a "rub of the green" attached.  The PGA, kowtowing to the Beast of Competitive Terror, has made the testing "voluntary."
      Intimidated by their own concern for effecting rules that might suggest PGA members are "crooked players," the PGA has made club testing "optional" instead of mandatory.  It's as absurd as having voluntary scanning at airports.  As travelers approach the security checkpoint they are asked, "Would you like to volunteer to have your baggage, body and shoes examined for possible weapons and explosives, or would you prefer to just pass through without being bothered?"

Tiger Woods favors club testing but is opposed to the PGA's  proposal of voluntary testing

       Tiger Woods, the world's #1 golfer, albeit in favor of club testing, considers the voluntary measurement of clubs about as stupid as setting up voluntary security checks at airports.  He's for mandatory testing.
       He realizes that the people who may have "corked" their clubs will be the last to leap into line to have their clubs checked.  Why should they volunteer to face the threat of expulsion, fine and loss of commercial credibility with sponsors?
        Technology has indeed advanced the impact of a player's drive.     In 1995 the average driving distance on the PGA was 263.6 yards.  Last year it peaked at 279.8.
        It doesn't appear that Tiger Woods is one of those doctoring their clubs.  Woods' career driving distance is 292.2, putting him in 30th place overall.

 Corking one's golf clubs seems as much a violation of the Golfing Patriot Act as Sammy Sosa boosting his bat's power.    It demeans those we hold up as competitive heroes.  And,for fans who believe in the "rugged idealism" of sports--individual skills battling limited resources--it turns the Vigilant Victors who cork their clubs  into Competitive Beasts of Terror.
         What kind of guy or gal would cheat his way to the top?  One who would eat his own children to win, of course.  If sportsmanship is a virtue, those who who refute it are no better than the bookies that rig contests to line their pockets at the public's excuse.
         The PGA is apparently afraid to demand club testing.
         It makes me wonder whether the PGA is afraid that its top players, the ones who draw the most television cameras and boost ad revenues and viewership, might be tagged Beasts of Terror because these "heroes" are not true "heroes" at all, but just bullies using whatever edges they can to ace out the competition and falsely claim titles.

The KoolCat advertises it is the "original cork-filled bat of golf"

        What other reason would the PGA have in making club testing voluntary than to make it serve as warning shot to its top echelon to clean up their act before they are found out?
          Frankly, the scandal caught me by surprise.
          Once an avid golfer, I played the game from St. Andrews in Scotland to Pebble Beach in Monterey, California.  My home course was Torrey Pines, in San Diego, where as a young man,  I was privileged to play in the pre-dawn mornings with a group of old-timers, one of whom was a playing buddy of golf icon Bobby Jones.  He taught me the "rugged individualism" of golf.  He taught me golf was about a man against elements, just me and my sticks and a ball and a hole.   He taught me to play against myself, challenging all my emotions to become part of the golf course, to respect it and to never violate it or its rules or I would suffer the Wrath of golf.
          It took great restraint for me not to throw clubs, or break them, or smash other golfers in the face when they hit into me, or to not pray my opponent would miss his or her putt.    I had to learn tolerance and respect, and wish the best shot for my competitors so I could keep myself in the "respect groove" and not fall into the Terror-trap of wishing ill on others that might boomerang back upon me.

I learned tolerance and respect on the golf course

      A Native American Indian friend of mine told me the story of a sweat lodge.  He said that if you say or think ill of another, the bad thought or word is like an arrow.  It will pass through its target and the wind will bend it back so it will spear itself into your heart.   You will then own the ill you wish upon others, he said.
        I thought of this in regards not just to the PGA issue with golf clubs, but to the world at large.   How many of us wish ill upon our enemies?   At work, how many times do we gloat when someone screws up in hopes we might advance?    How many times do we laugh or demean another for not dressing well, or looking funny?  How many times do we leap with glee with someone trying to achieve a goal falls on their face and we shout:  "I told you so!  Loser!  Loser!"

We are the losers when we deride others

   Do we invite the Beast of Terror into our hearts when we deride and chide others?
         Do our lives become less Vigilant each time we express prejudice, bigotry, hatred, envy toward others?
         Golf, especially professional golf, is supposed to be a palace of principles, as is all sports.   But now, the footprints of the Beast of Terror mar the soil around the greens and fairways, suggesting that the heroes of the sport may be just as selfish as the guy in the boardroom seeking to edge his way to the chairmanship by spreading rumors about a competitor for the job.
         Most of us have put politics on the lowest rung of credibility because politicians make character assassinations an art and science.  No wonder the people who run nations are constantly under attack, for the paths they walk are littered with bones and blood of all the backstabbing along the way.
         But golf!
         I guess it bothers me most that the PGA, the police system to keep the sport honest, is as dishonest as the players.    The PGA ruling that club testing is voluntary is as much a crime as the criminals who doctor their clubs.  It sends a bad signal to all, that the corruption in the sport has percolated to the top.  It makes Martha Stewart look pretty good.
         On the eve of the 4th July, millions of Americans are polishing up their golf clubs to attack their favorite golf course.   But this day, they may not have as good a time as they might.

Vigilant golfers don't play with "terror sticks"

         They will be looking at their buddy playing next them and wondering:  "Is this guy a cheater?  Is this guy so selfish he would take my dimes and nickels without batting an eye and never admit he's using a Terror-Club?"
         And, when I watch those long, beautiful drives the PGA tour players will hit this weekend on television, I'll have the tendency to say:  "Bet his club is corked!"
         Terrorism takes many forms.   But, the award for supporting it today goes to the PGA for making club testing voluntary.
         That decision is about as credible as President Bush telling Saddam Hussein to "voluntarily" turn himself in.

July 2--Ode To The Children Of Dissent

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