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It's not golf, it's the law

By HARTLEY STEWARD -- Toronto Sun  

Murphy's Law says simply that if something can go wrong, it will. Without doubt, Murphy was a golfer. The number of things that can go wrong on a golf course cannot be calculated. Probably numbers don't go that high.

 I know it's difficult to feel any sympathy for someone wandering about on 1,000 beautifully manicured acres of parkland, whacking a ball with a stick and cursing all the while, but spare a kind thought, if you can, for the millions of maniacs who have convinced themselves it's fun.

 Henry Beard, the very funny founder of National Lampoon magazine, wrote a book back in 1993 called Mulligan's Laws. Beard purports to have come into possession of an old manuscript written by Thomas Mulligan, Fourth Earl of Murphy.

 The Earl, apparently, spent a lifetime in scientific study of golf. As he discovered them one by one through trial and error, he recorded the absolute laws which govern the sport. If you have golfed at all, you will know them to be true.

 For instance, he determined the only 100% sure way to get par is to leave a birdie putt two inches short of the hole. An approach shot always lands where the pin was yesterday. The rake is in the other trap and the putt breaks the other way.
 He points out, too, that no putt ever got longer as a result of being marked. These are things an experienced golfer has come to count on.

 Mulligan also offers some shrewd advice for those who love the game. For instance, he advises, quite correctly, that one should never call one's shots, never putt a gimme and always limp with the same leg for the whole round.
 Mulligan, of course, is most famous for giving his name to the tradition among weekend golfers of taking a second drive on the first hole if the first is not satisfactory, without counting the first one.

 I have a friend, 17-handicap, who is so accomplished at the Mulligan he can retrieve a second ball from his pocket, tee it up and hit it before the first errant drive has come to the ground.

 He collects a gallery whenever he tees off.  Mulligan may, indeed, have been a wise observer of the game, but his observations were made almost 200 years ago. The game has changed dramatically and I have taken it upon myself to determine some of the laws of golf which have emerged as the sport has changed. 

 You will not be surprised to learn I am about to outline them for you.  When you enter a very good golf pro shop, every club in it will be better than those in your bag and every piece of golf attire for sale will be nicer than those you are wearing and those hanging in your closet

 The day you purchase the wildly expensive, new hi-tech driver is the day the manufacturer announces the introduction of the next, even higher-tech generation. A corollary to that law is that the minute you pay the pro shop for the driver you have been testing for a month it will go sour.

 The absolute best and creative advertising minds of our time have dedicated themselves to producing television infomercials for golf products.

 You cannot buy a good golf swing. Bill Gates, for instance, will always swing like a nerd however much he pays for his clubs. No golfer, no matter how good, can have enough putters. Soft spikes add three strokes to your handicap. If your L-wedge sends the ball backward, it is too lofted.

 Any club bigger than your head is probably illegal.

 It is impossible to swing as slowly and smoothly as Fred Couples and hit the ball any appreciable distance. Iron Byron is not a realistic role model. I have some advice for the modern golfer, as well.

 Never bet with a guy who can bounce a golf ball non-stop on the face of his sand wedge without looking. Never choose as your partner in a $10 Nassau anyone whose wood covers resemble an animal. Don't take lessons from a golf instructor who speaks in tongues. The cold beer at the 19th hole is not the best thing to have in mind at the top of your swing.

 Never buy a driver that needs to be assembled. A putter designed by cartoonist Andy Donato will only work for him. If an 8-iron goes a 160 yards, it's a six iron. Six wedges in your bag is probably too many. There is no such thing as kryptonite.

 No one ever paid too much for a driver and the greens are not grassier in Ireland.



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