First step to good golfing: Get a grip

Scottish Foursome When our editor began looking for someone to captain our Boys and Girls Club golf team, it only made sense that she came to me first. That’s because, being that I was once a sports editor, I’m naturally a great golfer.

Just like I’m a great shot-put thrower, quarterback, point guard, stock-car racer, extreme skateboarder, free-style swimmer and calf roper. In fact, I sometimes wonder where I might be today had my sports career not been tragically cut short by my complete lack of athletic talent.

This discovery was made as early as first grade, when, during a dodge ball game, I was knocked unconscious and rushed to the nurse’s office after being hit by the ball.

Forty-seven times.

(And I should mention that recess only lasted 10 minutes in those days.)

So, when my editor asked me to captain our golf team, I of course said “Yes!” After which I was knocked unconscious by a loose dodge ball in the newsroom.

Okay, that didn’t really happen, but I did agree to captain the team, which meant giving myself a crash course on golfing — beginning with golf terminology. I immediately got online for help and, thanks to the power of the Internet, found myself on an inappropriate website after typing in the first term on my list:

Mixed Foursome.

For anyone else who might be looking to the Internet for golf-term clarifications, I’d also suggest avoiding Scotch foursome, shag bag, and loose impediments. While these are all legitimate golfing terms, try explaining that to your editor when she finds you doing an Internet search for the term double-D.

(Which, by the way, means when a driver is used on the fairway after it has also been used to tee off — so THERE, Ms. Smarty Pants!)

After getting a handle on the game’s terminology, the next thing on my list was golf etiquette. I know for a lot of people, one of the things that keeps them from actually trying golf is the fear of unintentionally doing something that, as a result of not knowing the proper etiquette, gets them clubbed to death by someone with a 9-iron.

That’s because, to the outside observer, things that seem to warrant a good clubbing are actually no big deal. You want to swing your club and take a six-inch gouge out of an otherwise perfect lawn?


Want to drink a beer AND drive an electric cart through the woods?

Perfectly acceptable.

However, walk between someone’s ball and a small hole in the ground, and there’s a good chance you’ll be found floating in a water hazard.

The thing to remember is that you will undoubtedly make some mistakes your first time on the course, and that’s to be expected. What won’t be expected is a hollowed-out golf club that can be loaded with tees and used as a blowgun should you need to defend yourself.

But you didn’t hear that from me.

This brings us to the actual fundamentals of playing golf — which begins with finding your “natural swing.” Ask any golfer the secret to doing this, and they’ll tell you it’s all about having the proper grip. To achieve this, simply make sure the back of your left hand, as well as the palm of your right hand, are both facing your target. Then, using the thumb of your right hand as a guide, wrap your fingers around one side, then do the same with your left while, very slowly, bringing them both back into a perfect arch so that your beer doesn’t spill on the way to your mouth. After a couple of practice swigs, place your beer back in the cooler and tee-off.

This may not improve your swing much, but it will provide you with a legitimate excuse as to why you shot a 187 on a par 72 course.

And if that isn’t enough, you can always claim that playing in a mixed foursome was just too darned distracting.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

13 thoughts on “First step to good golfing: Get a grip”

  1. reminds me of when i was assigned to sub as a tech lab teacher for a 4th grade class. a calamity of the first order. i can’t even begin to imagine how many kids’ papers i deleted or sent to god knows where.

  2. I am not a player or a spectator of sports. I think i would be beaten over the head with a bag of oranges rather than to dress up and go play golf. At least you got a story out of it though. I have found myself agreeing more to do things with my wife than I once did, simply just in case something happens that might make a good story. So far nothing yet.

    My son was going to break up with his girlfriend because he met her family and it was a weird family vibe he knew he could never embrace.. I jokingly asked him he could stay the course for just a little bit longer to see if he could suck a story out of the deal. He agreed!! I had to to do the right thing though. I told him to just be a man and I will find some other thing to exploit.

    Hell maybe i will finally accept my father-in-laws repeated invitations to play golf.

    1. If any of these terms come up in preparation for golfing with your father-in-law, it could be a trick to test your loyalty to his daughter. Tread lightly!

  3. I wanted to learn to play golf, and I even had a set of clubs, but I was playing racquetball competitively, and the golf swing was messing up my racquetball swing. I sold the clubs. But, hey! Your post reminded me the Masters starts this week. Will you be watching?

    1. Sounds like a wise decision on the selling of the clubs. I definitely favored racquetball over golf. As for watching The Masters this week, it depends on if I have a hard time sleeping 😉

  4. So here I am catching up on my reading with my green face mask on laughing so animatedly that I have created cracks on my face mask. 🙂 I love golf. I like how frustrated I can manage to get men when I run off to see the geese, horses, or the pretty flowers rather than paying attention to the actual game. Please keep us posted on how your golf team goes, pictures are always welcome! 🙂

    1. I am a terrible golfer. My best play is somewhere between the sixth and ninth hole, which also happens to be where my drive usually lands. I’ll definitely include photos, which will probably be mistaken for camping pictures since I will more than likely be in the brush looking for my ball!

No one is watching, I swear...

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