IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT GOLF IS ADDICTIVE, very addictive -- on the same order of addictiveness as crack or heroin -- though perhaps a little more expensive. I know because I live in a family riddled with golf addicts. My dad, God bless his soul, is the clearest example.
When other people in casual conversation tell me that their father is a "golf addict," I carefully and kindly correct them.
"Compared my dad," I say, "your dad ain't addicted to nothin', pipsqueak."
My father, Clifford Garland Gaddy, Sr., M.D., may well be America’s leading golf addict. The following actual incident from his life should make this incontrovertible.
My father attended Wake Forest College, whose most famous alumnus is, not coincidentally, Arnold Palmer. In support of the school, at age 78, Dad entered the Brian Piccolo Classic charity golf tournament, which operated sort of like a walk-a-thon where you played as many holes as you could in one day. Sandra and I pledged $5 a hole. Thirty six times five. I figured we'd owe $180.
My dad played 100 holes of golf. His average score per round was in the low 80s, believe it or not.
But that’s not the kicker. My dear mother had driven the cart for him. After 100 holes, there was still light, so he said, "Inez, would you like to play some?" She said yes. So, he played 18 more holes with her "for fun."
That’s 118 holes in one day. That’s $590 that we owed. My dad raised a lot of money from the friends and family he suckered into enabling him.
Do understand that the tragedy of my father’s golf addled life need not be a life lived in vain. To avoid the rough life that he has had to endure, simply avoid the many traps that he has fallen into.
Avoid these 18 holes, and get control of your golf addiction!
Hole 1. Don't deny it. You're addicted and you can't do anything about it. My dad thinks he just plays because he enjoys it.
Hole 2. Don't hide your addiction. When you start playing night golf with lighted balls, you know you're in trouble.
Hole 3. Don't try to get better thinking then you can quit. Think that "being really good" has helped Tiger Woods beat the habit? Golf school is not rehab.
Hole 4. Don't buy new equipment. And by new, I mean new to you. Play It Again Sports is a trap akin to a pot bunker at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Hole 5: Don't put a "Putter Boy" weather vane on the roof of your house -- even if your darling wife would let you.
Hole 6: Don't collect those little midget golf pencils. Seriously.
Hole 7: Don't go to medical school. (Don't go to law school either. When my wife attended law school at Duke, the law school had a staff golf pro.)
Hole 8: Don't become a doctor. Before the advent of the beeper, the golf course was one of the few places where you could escape from saving lives.
Hole 9: Don’t attend medical conventions at golf resorts. The tax write-off you take for "medical education" will only mean more money for more Big Berthas.
Hole 10: Don't gamble when you play. Your winnings will only mean more money for more Big Berthas.
Hole 11: Don't use orange balls to play in the snow (no matter how many golfing days are taken away from you in Danville, Virginia by snowy conditions -- usually about one a year.)
Hole 12: "One-club" tournaments are not a way to "cut back." It's no less golf just because you use a single club than it is when you have cart full of them. Ditto on "hickory-stick" tournaments.
Hole 13: Don't enter charity tournaments. (See above). Face it, your chip shots are not feeding the hungry, they're feeding your addiction.
Hole 14: Don't buy a condo on a golf course in Pinehurst.
Hole 15: When on vacation at Pinehurst, don't spend your time watching the Golf Channel.
Hole 16: When on vacation at Wild Dunes, don't spend all your time looking out the window watching people hit balls into the sand traps on the 18th green of the Ocean Course.
Hole 17: Don't build a golf course in your backyard. My dad built a 9-hole par-three course in his backyard. It didn't cut down on golf, just on travel time.
Hole 18: Don't get a patent on a "golf-related device." My father is the inventor of the "Weed Wedge," which "helps improve your wedge shot while removing weeds from your lawn and garden."
Gary D. Gaddy's father won the Senior Division with the best net score at the One Club World Championship in 1987, and once had two holes-in-one in a single nine-hole round on his par-three backyard course.
A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 8, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy