Terry Mackin: Could you please fix your divot?

September 22, 2013 

I played a lot of weekend golf this summer.I had a few shining moments. Just enough to keep me from chucking my clubs in a pond.

Normally, when I'm not good at something, I quit and find something else to do with my free time.

Golf is funny. It's more about the occasionalgood shot than the consistent three putts. Besides, at my age, there's not much else to do with my free time. Shop. Watch sports. Cut the grass. Nobody plays Left Field Ball any more.

Golf has many rules and etiquette. Don't wear your cutoff jean shorts. Don't use a tee in the fairway.But I don't think golf is as snobby as I once perceived it to be. There's nothing snobby about my golf game.Sloppy. Snotty. But not snobby.

I have learned the more I play golf, the more traditional toward the game I become.

Play the game right, even if I can't play it very well.

This summer, I realized there's one broken rule of golf tradition that bothers me:

Why don't golfers fix their own divots nowadays?

A divot occurs when your shot lands hard on the green and leaves a mark or indentation. The green is the short grass surrounding the hole. Proper etiquette is the guy who makes the divot fixes the divot with a tool or a tee. Pretty simple. Takes a few seconds.

Divots also can happen on a fairway, when your swing is low enough that it sends a chunk of turf sailing. There are occasions when my divot, or chunk of turf or mud, goes further than my golf ball. That reminds me of the joke about a guy we know that wears a bad toupee on a windy day. Golf humor. You got to keep laughing. Believe me.

Fixing or replacing a divot on the green is actually a badge of accomplishment. It means your good shot from a good distance landed hard on the green. When I get the chance to fix my own divot on the green,I fix it because it's the right thingto do. Also, it's a nice break from looking in the woods or a backyard for my ball.

Besides, I know the golf gods are watching. If I walk away and leave my divot unfixed, I know they'll send my next tee shot into the woods. Or my next putt will rim out.

Over the past few years, I've been amazed at how many divots on a green go unfixed. Guys just walk away from them. I usually fix them while shaking my head and mumbling something like, "Lazy @$$. Make me bend over...."

I usually blame it on the younger golfers who hit the ball a mile further than I can. You know them. Wearing their plaid shorts and bright orange shirts. Wide, white belts like we used to wear with our leisure suits. White sunglasses, too, that we'd never, ever wear.

Guys who look good, and also golf good, are annoying.

I think I figured out why some guys fix their divots and some do not.

Laziness, sure.

Too cool to carry a golf tool?

Of course.

More than likely, they just don't care about tradition.

It's symbolic of today's changing values and lack of accountability.

In golf, and life.

A metaphor of our world today. So many people making divots and walking away, leaving them behind for others, like you and me, to fix.

Why fix my divot on the green when I know someone else playing behind me will fix it for me?

If it bothers the next guy, well, then he can fix it.

And I fix their divots.

All of them.

I don't like fixing other people's divots. But I don't want to leave divots behind for the next group, either. It's for the good of the course, and game, one fixed divot at a time.

Maybe my golf game would be better if I focused only on myself, and my own swing and fixing only my own divots, and not everyone else's.

Truth is, I may not be a very good golfer, but at least I'm a caring golfer.

As we head into fall, there's plenty of golf to be played, and I'll probably continue to fix my own divots, and yours, if you're lazy, non-traditional or too cool to carry a golf tool.

In my little world of bad golf, fixing all divots is the right thing to do.

Besides, it's a nice break from another walk in the woods, bean field or backyard to find my ball.

Divot fixing also brings a sense of immediate gratification. See the divot. Fix the divot. Takes only a few seconds. I don't get that feeling often on a golf course.

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