Coping: My 12 Novice Golf Mistakes

Oh boy!  Soon as we get the tractor back in operation (next week thanks to the rain – this week was rained out) it will be time to install the first set of one-pound coffee cans and get seriously into “Original Rough Country Golf.”

You may have never heard of the ORCGA – Original Rough Country Golf Association – because I just invented it.  But the reason is that golf – as in those other sets of initials – is just too high-falutin for just reg-lar country folks.

The idea is simple:  Everyone should be able to play a decent round of golf – whether in the front (and back) yard of a modest home, or on a modest rural homestead.  There’s also a fixation with 18-holes.  But that’s another one of those uppity deals that has evolved with the sport. So, today we talk golf.

(Continues below)


The first mistake I made as an amateur player was spending too much money on equipment.  I bought a reasonably inexpensive set of clubs.

But don’t do it.  Had I been reading this column, instead of making the mistakes that enable me to write knowledgeably, I would have hit Craigslist and picked up something like Set of ping eye 2 irons $120 bucks.  Damn straight.  Like a novice, I paid more and got less.

Second mistake:  Spent too much money on balls.

I trust you know how compression works, right?  A #1 compression is a very hard ball, but it goes great distances.  The softer is #2.  And I spent a fortune hitting #3 Noodle balls – ideal for idiots, elders, and children through 13, or so.

Now, I’m buying what?  Shag Practice Bag with Assorted Brands and Models (Pack of 96 Balls) – Used.  At $24-bucks, I don’t give a rip if I lose a ball, or not.  At a couple of bucks each?  Yeah, I think about it.

Third mistake:  Not getting practice strikers for the yard.  With a bunch of Practice Golf Balls,Smartlife15 Foam Sponge Soft Elastic Golf Balls, Indoor Outdoor Golf Training Aid Balls (Yellow,60pcs) – another $25 – I can go out in the yard and bash away for a half-hour and never lose one.

This brings me to mistake #4:  I let my clubs sit.  For 8-years, in fact.  If I have even a prayer of breaking 100 on a regulation course *(obviously not an ORCGA course), I’m going to have to do more than visualize my way into the game.  Which gets me back to the yellow whiffle ball discussion.

Number five (so many mistakes to choose from!) would be my bag. Buy a cart bag and a cheap cart if you want to walk the course.

The learnings:  First is a simple steel cart is just $30 bucks.  I dragged the new Jef World Of Golf Deluxe Steel Golf Cart around for a while and it was OK.  Rough ground,  too.

The bag?  Different story.

When I started playing I was younger (and dumber, turns out).  Why I would opt for a carry bag  (which is a whole different deal that a cart bag) is beyond me.  The carry bag does one trick well:  When you sling it off your shoulder, two spindly legs pop out and hold it upright.

The cart, on the other hand has a place for pencils, score card and (for those so inclined) you can even clip on a Cigar Minder Clip – All Purpose Cigar Holder (Yellow).  About $8-bucks.

Mistake Number Six: Being too manic about the game.

I tend to over-study, over-plan, over-practice, over-read, over-exert, and over-stress on everything.  I really don’t like beers on the course.  But the smell of a cigar now and then is OK.  Whether sailing, fishing, or golfing.  It’s the smoke wafting gently around more than the taste, after all.

Mistake #6 is not bringing drinks and a cigar…life’s too short as it is.

Mistake #7:  Pressing ahead relentlessly.  In all the time I’ve played golf, it was competitive most of the time (to Elaine’s dismay).  She’s the one who will notice the wildlife and birds.  (“The what dear???”) With the luxury of the world’s first ORCGA course, we have the luxury of not having people coming up behind us.

And there’s no one in front of us, being as it’s our land and all.

The plan for this course is simple:  Lots of balls, no watch, no cell phone, a snake gun, a sandwich, a thermos of coffee and a pop bottle with a grown up drink in the clubhouse (which looks remarkably like the gym/guest room here).

Tee’s are optional.

Mistake #8. Get a ball picker-upper.  Not a “golf” device.  I’m talking

The holes are going in after the next tractor pass.  Flags will be 5-foot hunks of rebar.  An assortment of small flags on eBay wasn’t much moolah.

Mistake #9 from my first effort at golf was not spending the $18 bucks for a 40″ EZ Reacher Outdoor Standard.  These are great.

Drop something to the bottom of Ure bag?  No worries.  Don’t want a hand into a pile of fire ants?  Not sure what that is in the cup?  Out is comes.

Mike # 10:  Buying BRAND anything (except clubs).

There’s a joke in the sailing world “If something says marine on it, double’s the price…”

Same if true with a number of golf brands.  Remember those micro fiber towels?  By the bundle?  Clean things as well as anything that says (____fill in the brand) towels do.

I never found the name on the towel to improve my game a BIT.

Mistake #11:  Expensive golf shoes.  Like the towels, they don’t really seem to bring the score down.  My best scores were in wide (good grippy) tennis shoes.  I wear old Sketchers (*$37) and they work fine.  Old man shoes, no laces so no trippy and fally.

OK, enough talk at the (never gonna be a pro) shop. Let me walk you over to the first tee at our place.  This is a pitch & putt tee from where the object is to get to the tee of Hole #2.  Under the bird feeder and through the fence.  Easy 9-iron shot but keep it low:

Once down below the fence line, Hole 2 let’s you open up a bit more power:

The pin will be just right of center near the base of the distant light-colored tree.

Hole 3 is the fence line hole.  I didn’t get a shot of it…but here’s Hole 4.  The uphill challenge.

Hole 5 is my favorite hole:  Tiny opening (this is a fairway?) going off to the ball-striker’s limits.  Problem is, you have a hell of a time getting it through “the pinch.”

The smart way to play this is a 7 or 9 layup and then finish with a 3 to 5.  There’s a course-width rough and a water hazard enroute.

Hole 6?  A short double-dog-leg hole.  Lay up to the fairway and off to the right, then a left.

7 and 8 are in the deep woods:  Down the double dog-leg 6, Tee off 7 and back up to the middle of the property.

This is where 7 comes from looking to the deep woods:

From here, go down another alley to Hole 9.  And get ready for the big finish: Hole 9 – the Rifle Range hole.  About 200 yards up from 8, a lay up to the front of the shooting range target and then up into the high woods to finish.

This is looking from the pin 140 yards down to the shooting backstop on this multi-use fairway:

After that, you can decide to play the course in reverse to make 18 OR you can take the path from 9 back to the club house through the woods.

This fairway of pine needles is what the major and I put in for the mega-off-center-fed dipole antenna project.  One wide path, many uses.

I will be painting the club house beige one of these days (and trim black) to match the rest of the buildings.

This gets us to my 12th mistake.

Thinking I could build a golf course.  Not as simple a one-man project as I thought it would be.

It’ll look great once it greens up in a few weeks.  Then it will just be a matter of time and diesel to keep it in “playable” condition.  Now you know what is goes on in that small, sick mind of mine.

Oh, and if anyone asks?  These are fire stop lines to keep any forest fires (which we do get, hereabouts) from wrecking our tree farm, right?  Mixed use forestry…it’s right there in our tree farm management plan, lol.  So’s a harvest in 2026.  Unless we’re busy or dead.  I’ll be 77 then.

(Seriously?  When the grass is well-established we can run a few cows on it, too….always thinking ag.)

Write when you get rich,

12 thoughts on “Coping: My 12 Novice Golf Mistakes”

  1. Frankly ‘golfing’ is a way of life – you’re either ‘all in’ or not. My dad was a great golfer, but basically quit after getting married and having a family. Having enough land to play at it is so unusual!

    Having said that – most of golf is mentally orientated.

  2. I hate to brake the bad news to you George on the ORCGA but we were playing “Sage Brush” Golf up in Montana 25yrs. ago and through the years on several different home built courses, the bottom line, LOTS OF FUN! As far as regular golf never really enjoyed the game much until I quit taking a score card with me! The best part about that is it drives the people you are playing with nuts!

  3. i built a six hole course in my backyard 20 years ago. plastic buckets in the ground for cups. furthest drive was about 100 yards. i stuck used hockey sticks into the middle of the cups for flags. a bench by each hole for watching the putting. no greens, just short mowed grass and pounded dirt. held a tournament every june for the last day of school teacher party, with a wooden trophy made in the IA shop for the name of each years winner. years of fun.

      • The work of getting the ball into the hole is the same as the LEOs getting you to walk a straight line and touch your nose. When you can’t do that it’s time to go home … which may be where the pretty girls in the mobile bars come in.

  4. George

    From 2003 thru 2005 I lived in Napa Ca.
    I kayaked on the Napa river many times.
    If you go north of the First street bridge you will see hundreds of golf balls in the shallow water. They were coming from the Silverado golf course. With a scoop net and bucket I could have earned some pocket money.

    I was more interested in the wine. AH, the good old days!!

    I’ll drink all the stinking Merlot you don’t want!!!

  5. Beautiful golf course. I would like one of those but I live on 3/4 of an acre. Good clubs are a must. I like the Cobra Senior Graphite, and since I play Par 3 courses now riding a cart, you need to be accurate since on the first shot you want to be on the green. Betting while golfing is a must and the main reason men don’t want to play golf with women. Women prefer to play for fun which is ridiculous.

  6. If I’m going to do that much work with balls and a stick, I’d rather do it horizontally with a pretty female companion.

    Adult beverages are OK too.

  7. My son-in-law has an ORCG at what I call “Little House on the Plains” in northeast Colorado. I went up there this past fall for Thanksgiving and played the course. He used tuna cans and built berms and sand (dirt) traps and brush piles and even a teeny, tiny lake (puddle). One obstacle is an old hay wagon. The old guy next door often plays with them. I walked too much and had a blast!

  8. Mark Twain’s comment about “golf” sums up my attitude precisely!!

    “Golf … a good walk ruined”

    OH, I love the beauty of a well manicured golf course. The amount of effort that goes into making those courses B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L pays off and makes the experience of walking such a course one of the true pleasures in life.

    Now chasing a little ball around those courses, such that you probably don’t notice the physical beauty of the place? NOT a pleasure!!

    Mark Twain hit the nail on the head!!

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