WARREN’S WORLD: A Different Kind of Golf Score

By Beacon Staff

I settled for a triple bogey on the final nine holes the other day and set a course record for my play on our local golf course. I played all nine holes and only lost three golf balls – my kind of scoring.

I had played the round with someone that I would call a golf aficionado. He has all of the new clubs for 2010 and a putter that is guaranteed to get it in the hole whenever he putts the ball properly. He has the same kind of driver that is used by Phil Mickelson, except that it is a right-handed club, and the same make and model set of irons that are used by Tiger Woods.

I usually play golf with that friend, and when we bother keeping score he always beats me by a couple of strokes. Occasionally he will even break 50 for the nine holes, but only when the planets are all lined up and the humidity is in the proper range. If the truth be told, I prefer to just hit a lot of golf balls and not keep score because it is not important for me to beat the local banker or the guy who works in the local hardware store.

This led me to a statistic that I was rather surprised about. An estimated 300 million golf balls are lost in North America every year. Of course, I contribute my share to that statistic. More than 200 golf courses in North America are under contract with a Toronto golf ball retrieval company. Every year that company resells more than 20 million recovered golf balls worldwide. With golf balls costing as much as $40 a dozen and as little as $12 a dozen for recycled balls, that is a tremendous industry.

If you play golf as poorly as I do, there is no sense in paying that $40 for a dozen golf balls when I can lose a dozen golf balls that cost $12. I lose them to the right or left of the course, or in the ponds, and yes, I can lose them even in the middle of the fairway when it hasn’t been mowed for a day. I play golf with another friend who is hard of hearing and, since I only have good vision in one eye, I can’t see where my ball has gone. And, since he is partially deaf, he can’t hear me hollering that his ball “is over here!” We are kind of the odd couple of golfing here on our island. Well, maybe anywhere, for that matter.

That Toronto golf ball recovery company is a $200-million-dollar-a-year company whose employees wear scuba gear and get to go swimming in beautiful golf course lakes and ponds, recovering and selling used golf balls. They have no expensive manufacturing costs, just a golf ball washing machine not unlike a king-sized pressure washer. Once they are washed, someone sorts them by brand name, repackages them and ships them back to golf and sporting goods stores, as well as golf courses worldwide for sale to not very good golfers such as myself.

In a recent book called “Bad Lies,” author Gary Lindsay wrote, “a doctor by the name of MacDougal came to the conclusion that the weight of a golf ball and a person’s soul weighed the same.” Twenty-one grams is the maximum amount a golf ball can weigh, and Dr. MacDougal weighed people just before they died and right after they died and discovered that their body weight dropped an average of 21 grams immediately upon their death. Thus, he concluded that their soul had departed when they died and that is where the 21 grams disappeared.

What kind of golf ball do you hit, white, yellow or pink? Or perhaps you have enough money to buy the new kind of golf ball with a computer chip in it so that you can find with the GPS in your golf cart? Whatever your golf ball may be, they all have to weigh less than 21 grams.

Once or twice during the summer I am able to play nine holes of golf without losing a ball. I consider that one of my better rounds. But as Tom Weiskopf says, “There are 27 million golfers in America. Only 5 percent of them will ever break 100, and of that 5 percent only 2 percent of them will ever break 80. So when you are learning, why bother keeping score? But most important, always remember that the golf course will win every time you play.” If someone who is a good enough golfer to have won the British Open gives me that kind of free advice while I was trying to teach him how to ski, I would be foolish not to pay attention to it.