How Clete Boyer?s death led to thoughts on golf

The e-mail I received recently from longtime friend Frank Mize was short and to the point.

?I just learned that Clete Boyer died yesterday, which immediately reminded me of you. Would you like to get together for lunch today? It?s my turn to buy.?

Hey, it seemed like a bit of an odd lunch invitation, but since Frank was buying, who was I to argue?

Like many kids growing up in the 1960s, Frank and I were big Yankees fans. We found it easy to jump on the bandwagon of such stars as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bobby Richardson, Whitey Ford and Clete Boyer, to name a few. In any case, Frank recently sent an e-mail to me touting golf?s many virtues. He could always golf circles around me, which isn?t saying much since my golf game in high school was consistently erratic.

Here are some excerpts from interspersed with my comments in parenthesis.

Ever wonder why golf is growing in popularity and why people who don?t even play go to tournaments or watch it on TV? The following truisms may shed some light. (Well, not all truisms may be entirely true.)

Golf is an honorable game, with the majority of players being honorable people who don?t need referees. (Maybe, but at the professional level there are tournament officials who keep a close eye on the proceedings. When acquaintances play with each other, occasionally someone accuses the other of doctoring the score.)

Golfers don?t have some of their players in jail every week. (It?s probably true that the percentage of golfers making the police blotter is less than most major professional sports, although I don?t have any facts to back that up.)

Golfers don?t kick dirt on, or throw bottles at other people. (Probably true, although a few golfers have been known to throw clubs.)

Professional golfers are paid in direct proportion to how well they play. (Not so fast, my friend. For one thing, many professional golfers are walking billboards for various companies, and I have a feeling those golfers are well paid for the words they wear on their cap and clothes.)

Golfers don?t hold out for more money or demand new contracts because of another player?s deal. (It?s kind of an apples-and-oranges argument compared to athletes in other professional sports).

Golfers don?t demand that taxpayers pay for the courses on which they play. (Good point.)

When golfers make a mistake, no one is there to cover for them or back them. (This argument actually relates to all individual sports.)

The PGA raises more money for charity in one year than the NFL does in two. (I find that hard to believe, but I?m not doing the research to find out.)

You can watch the best golfers in the world up close at any tournament, including the majors, all day every day for $25 or $30. (If that?s true, I?m a little surprised. However, walking around a golf course or staking out a spot to watch everyone hit one or two shots during a round isn?t the same as watching a baseball, football or basketball game).

Even in the nosebleed section, a Super Bowl ticket will cost you more than $300 to $1,000 from a scalper. (No one said life is fair, and I have to admit, that?s a lot to pay for a nose bleed.)

* * *

As far as I can tell, being physically fit isn?t a prerequisite for success in golf. Tiger Woods is athletic, fit and trim, but he lost the U.S. Open this year to Angel Cabrera, someone who looks like he spends more time in a recliner than in a gym.

Perhaps we can all agree that golf is a challenging sport. As former baseball great Hank Aaron said, ?It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.?

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