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Put your helmet on, it’s time to play golf

Want to start a fight?

I’ve got a surefire method.

The other day, I’m hanging out with a friend and he mentions some big-time golf tournament he’s watched on the tube. He rattles on about Tiger, and so and so, and what’s his name and the other guy — the one with the stupid looking hat and pants.

I haven’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about, but he’s a golfer and he’s excited. I nod; I grunt occasionally, maintaining a sociable demeanor. All the while I’m thinking about birds and cats, Kant’s antinomies and bright shiny objects.

Then my friend says something that returns my attention to his conversation

“It’s my favorite sport,” he proclaims.

I hear a word I associate with things that interest me, like hockey, football. Sport.

“What’s your favorite sport?” I ask. “Hockey? Football? Roller Derby?”

“Golf,” he says, smiling and pushing back his cap with “Titleist” stitched in its crown.

OK, here’s how to start the fight.

No need to take notes; it’s simple.

“Golf’s not a sport,” I reply. “What a ridiculous thing to say. Golf is for sissies, for people who can’t actually play a sport. It’s a social event at best, like High Tea at a major metropolitan hotel.”

“Whaa …” my friend turns red and sputters. “You gotta …” He starts to foam at the mouth. “You’re outta your …” He hits the table with a fist.

“Easy, big boy,” I say, switching to my hostage negotiator tone of voice. “If you don’t believe me, next time you’re out on the course, check out the specimens who are out there with you. That should be enough to prove my point. Next time you watch a tournament on television, check out those guys, too. Maybe a couple of them could play a real sport, with real men, but …”

He is out of his chair, dancing a deranged jig in front of me, his limbs spasming, a man with a million bugs crawling beneath his skin. After all, he’s invested a lot of money in the latest golf equipment. He bought a golf club membership, he plays in charity tournaments, he’s spent a lot of hours working on his game. He’s in a “league.”

I rub it in. “Golf’s just a game, an outdoor activity. You play the course, you play yourself, you work hard to express yourself by your mode of dress. You don’t really play anyone else. There’s no challenge other than to come up with the money to buy the newest generation driver and a goofy outfit.”

At this point, my friend shows all the signs of suffering a major ischemic event. The veins in the side of his neck bulge and his pulse soars to about 200 beats per second. There are tissues giving way inside his skull.

I inform him I have a plan to turn golf into a sport.

As anyone who has thought about the subject knows, a real sport involves person-on-person action, a lot of physical contact, mindless violence and a time element to corral the action.

So, here’s the new style of golf, for real athletes.

First, it will be a timed event, similar to what is called “speed golf.” It’s easy: the first competitor to the eighteenth hole with the fewest strokes wins.

In my version of golf, however, everyone in the foursome or the tournament starts at the same place and time, at the first tee. A gun goes off; each player hits a drive then takes off. No carts allowed. Carts are for the feeble and infirm.

Each player has a caddy, and a caddy is allowed to carry only two clubs for the golfer. The caddy functions like a lineman in football — blocking, tackling, running interference for the golfer. The prototype caddy will top out at about 6-6, 320 pounds. Preferably, the caddy will wear an ankle monitor and will have to check in with his parole officer twice each day.

The golfer, meanwhile, can do anything at all to prevent an opponent from successfully completing the course. Hit an opponent with a club? Sure. Use the spikes on the shoe to deadly effect? Of course.

This is full contact golf.

No doubt some of you think that, in full contact golf, there is an advantage to being lean and quick, the type of player able to get a jump on opponents, to speed ahead of the pack after the start. You probably think ectomorphs have a chance in the new golf.

On the contrary: a beefier golfer will, at some juncture, catch up with the thin, rabbit-like guy — when the leader’s ball hits a sand trap, when an errant shot must be tracked down in the rough. At that point, the hefty guy wails the living daylights out of the weeping willow and makes his plodding and violent way forward, leaving behind the wreckage of a once-proud, once spiffily-dressed but perilously thin competitor.

I figure an 18-hole round of golf, in this true, sporting format, should take no more than 45 minutes, max. With time out for a snack and an energy drink or two.

In the unlikely event the match is tied after the final hole, a Tough Man playoff will take place. A tall chain link fence will be erected around the eighteenth green. The competitors will be put in chutes at the perimeter of the green, like rodeo animals waiting for a rider. A ball will be dropped near the center of the green, the golfers will be released into the enclosure. The golfer who deposits the ball into the cup, wins the cash. Anything goes. The crowd is allowed to make bets then decide the fate of the losers.

I imagine the snazzy little getups today’s nonsport golfers wear — you know, the silly hats and the snappy, miracle fabric shirts — will give way to breakaway jerseys, helmets and pads.

The 19th hole will be a trauma ward, serving plasma instead of beer.

My idea will transform golf into something more than the mild narcotic it is today, a mere diversion for Shriners, retired mid-level corporate executives desperate for attention, and less than gifted people without jobs.

I propose instigating the change that will shock the golf world right here in Siberia With a View, at our local golf course. I intend to organize the first-ever Full Contact Charity Golf Tournament. The tourney will be played from 9 to 10 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning in September. A revolution will begin.

I plan to go to the thrift shop and purchase an old 5-iron and a putter as my clubs. I will surf the Internet and scan the Department of Corrections site for a list of recently released, violent felons to find a suitable caddy. There are always some ex-Denver Broncos available.

I will begin a rigorous training regimen, to include lifting heavy objects and putting them down, hour-long sessions on the heavy bag, and a diet souped up with serious amounts of protein. An enormous dose of Ma Huang, ten or so cups of strong black coffee, a visit to our local meth dealer and I’ll be ready for some golf action.

The day of the tourney — organized to raise funds for the Lady Pirate volleyball team — I’ll prepare a sandwich or two to take along during the tournament, providing me and my caddy (let’s call him Bubba) with the sustenance we’ll need to thrash and be thrashed. I’m thinking a couple of those massive pressed sandwiches made on oval artisanal loaves will be the ticket. They’ll lend a nice “picnic in the Italian countryside” effect to the proceedings.

I’ll procure the bread, cut the loaf in half and tear out the bread in the center of one of the halves to create a pocket for the goodies.

The filling can be just about anything but, for my purposes, I’m sold on lots of meat and cheese, kept moist with a ton of some kind of fatty dressing. Onions should figure into the mix, given the fact a lot of the tourney action will take place at close quarters.

I can see a filling composed of a selection of Italian cold cuts, layered in the depression with thinly sliced onion, slices of provolone and some olive salad. If someone has an aversion to olive salad, a creamy Italian salad dressing can wet the mix. The sandwich is prepared hours before it is eaten, weighed down with a heavy pan and refrigerated until the lunch is packed. The weight is critical: it mushes everything together and gives the juices a chance to thoroughly infiltrate the bread.

Not in an Italian mood? Use any combo of meats, cheeses and veggies (be sure to squeeze the excess moisture out of tomatoes) with any kind of dressing or mayonnaise.

It’s a nice vision, isn’t it: you and your massive caddy slumped in a ditch next to the golf course, applying bandages to your wounds, enjoying a bit of a snack before rejoining the mayhem?

I think I’m on to something here: a perfect blend of food and “sport.”

I wonder what I can do for billiards?

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