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May 23, 2003

by Bill Hogan


Just one time before I kick, I'd like to take a ride in my car – doesn't matter where to, the drugstore, the gas station, the post office – without encountering another driver. There seems to be little in life that is more aggravating than being on the road these days.

Bad drivers, slow drivers, aggressive drivers, old drivers, inexperienced drivers dominate the highways and byways. And with the possible exception of Mayberry, no city is too small to be exempt from tie ups, construction, fender-benders, even rush hour traffic.


Some people drive too fast, some too slow. Some change lanes without signaling, some ride for miles with the blinker on without ever making a turn. There are the tailgaters and those who find some comfort in straddling the white line between lanes. A driver's license has become a permit to cut you – and me - off.

Common courtesy has flown out the window along with the hamburger wrappers and empty soda bottles. It's no wonder that more and more people are walking into court facing assault or murder charges claiming "road rage" as a defense.

There was a time when climbing behind the wheel and hitting the road was a great way to cool off, relax and collect your thoughts. Put the top down, turn the stereo up and drive. It was soothing, it was calming and it was fun. It was like playing a round of golf on a sunny afternoon.

Now, a quick trip for a loaf of bread can be as irritating as – well – playing a round of golf on a sunny afternoon. The fairway has become as congested as the highway. Filled with the very same inconsiderate boobs you're compelled to give the finger to on the way to the 7-Eleven.

It seems like every hacker that ever bought a used Big Bertha at a garage sale has suddenly gotten the urge to hit the links. Very few of which find it necessary to learn or adhere to the number one rule in golf: etiquette.

First of all, if you can't get around the course in four and a half hours, get yourself a bowling ball. There's a big difference between being a bad golfer and being an intolerably slow golfer.

I played a round last week with three friends – it took five hours. That wouldn't have been too bad if not for the fact that we finally gave up after 14 holes. It was either quit, or walk up to the foursome in front of us and knock their heads together like Mo used to do to Larry and Curley.

How long can you look for a lost ball? It's not your wedding ring; it's a $1.25 piece of hard rubber. Especially since they could never figure out exactly where to look in the first place. Four idiots spread out over sixty yards of three-foot tall weeds. Drop another one, Champ.

It bordered on comical during one endless greenside search when the true Einstein of the group actually suggested that someone should check to see if the ball went in the hole. "Yea, Tiger, your ball hit a rock, scooted through that sand bunker and rolled into the cup."

And it became a true "road rage" situation when one genius decided to comb the lake fronting the 10th green for lost balls. My friend quickly defused the situation by tactfully suggesting that "unless you feel like going for a swim, you better move it along, Sparky."

It got to the point where the only alternative to assault and battery was finding other ways to pass the time on the tee box. It took about a hole and a half to figure out the New York Mets starting lineup for game five of the '69 series.

And I guess we can look at it as some sort of accomplishment that we came up with the nickname of Huntz Hall's character on the Bowery Boys. It had been bothering me for weeks. Satch – for those of you who were wondering. Still more waiting produced Hall's real name on the show but did little to help my putting stroke.

By the 15th hole it was either Miller time or go time. We opted for the former but didn't pass up the opportunity to cut them off on the cart path en route to the clubhouse. And, of course, flip them the universal sign of disapproval on the way by.


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