I think we can all agree. It’s fun playing with chops. Although most players complain about it, we all have some good laughs after the round. Not in front of the chop, heavens no! Golf etiquette somewhere in the book states, ‘get frustrated all you want while playing but hold the laughter until after the show. And by all means wait until the chop has left the building.’
Now, many of you may be asking, “What’s the difference between a chop and a hacker?” If you read my earlier post, 4 Reasons Hackers Give On Course Lessons, I can see where you might be a little confused. Hackers and chops are polar opposites. Hackers think they know everything about the game, and can help everyone with theirs. Chops don’t have a clue about their game and want you to help them. Ironically chops grow up to be hackers.
Chops don’t have a particular handicap. You see, they don’t understand the handicap system. To a chop the handicap is just a number that means absolutely nothing. It’s possible to play with a chop that is a thirty plus handicap and the next time play with one who claims to be ‘about a ten.’ Understand these two chops could actually be one and the same. Remember, they don’t understand the system. It’s just a number!
Reason # 1.
It’s fun watching them count their strokes. Half way down the first par four you see the chop stop and begin counting. That’s the indication it’s going to be a long round. After everyone arrives at the green, the chop comes walking out of the woods carrying half a dozen brownish colored balls, “Look how many balls I found. Funny, none of them are mine.” Everyone is standing on the green waiting for the chop to get to his ball only to hear, “Did someone bring my putter?”
After the chop four putts from fifteen feet he begins recapping the hole; “I hit one off the tee. Then I hit my driver again from the rough on the front of the tee box. That’s two. Then I hit my three iron pretty good but just a little right of that trap over there. After that, my next shot went into the trap and it took me three to get out. Somehow my next shot went into the woods. That’s where I found all those balls. I just dropped one in the woods and hit my five wood twice to get out. Then I was in front of the green and hit a good chip.”
As the chop stands over the hole giving this narration, he is pointing to each and every place he hit a shot. Then he looks down on the green and points to each spot his putt stopped before going into the hole. “Eleven and one, two, three, four putts would give me a fifteen. No wait, I forgot to add a penalty stroke for not finding my ball, sixteen. Just give me a ten, that’s the max I can take on a hole.”
As you’re about to explain to the chop what ‘max you can take’ means, you realize it would not do one bit of good. He’s a chop. Put down a ten.
They’re bound to lose or leave a club somewhere. In the middle of the fairway on the sixth hole, you notice the chop rumbling through his bag of twenty three clubs. His rumbling starts slowly and then reaches a fever pitch before he pauses to think, looking up, down and over his bag into the cart. The group realizes he’s lost a club somewhere. We all knew it was just a matter of time. Every time you look over he’s carrying what looks to be a starter set in his folded arms across his chest going to his next shot.
And then it happens. The move made by every chop and hacker once they notice a club is missing; first a pause to think, and then a quick about face. They complete the 180 degree spin without ever lifting their feet. All the while maintaining both hands on the bag. An amazing physical feat. Even Gary Player would be impressed.
The chop’s whole body has twisted around his all black FootJoys and his eyes begin scanning the course. He quickly looks side to side, like an eagle searching for helpless prey. His eyes focused, expecting the missing club to come running like a child left behind at Disneyland.
“Hey did one of you guys pick up my seven iron? I must have left it somewhere. I may have left it on the third hole when I was using it to chip. No I couldn’t have left it there; I had it on five in the fairway sand trap. Did anybody pick it up?”
The chop turns back around to his bag for another look. Maybe, just maybe, it came back while he was looking the other way. Stranger things have happened. And then he yells, “It’s okay. I don’t need it. I’ve got another seven iron I can use.” Gracious dude. How many seven irons do you carry?
Before every shot for the next three holes, the chop rumbles through his clubs hoping for a miracle. “I can’t see how I lost it. I used it on three and then in the fairway sand trap…oh no! I used my six iron out of that sand trap. Yea, it must be on three. I’ll be back.”
“Where are you going man?”
“Back to three to get my seven iron.”
“I thought you had another one you could use?”
“I do but that’s my favorite one and I don’t want to lose it.”
“Somebody behind us will pick it up and turn it in. Don’t worry about it right now. Hit!”
Reason # 3.
Chops always have an interesting set of clubs. As we’re standing on the eleventh tee waiting for the group ahead to clear the fairway, I mention to the chop, “You can hit.”
“I better not. If I get a hold of one I might hit into them.”
We’re all thinking; Well first of all my friend they are about 250 yards out. You haven’t reached 250 yards in less than three shots today. You can hit. Second, you’re going to hit a three wood that was made back in 1985. Doubt if you can fly it 250 yards. Third and probably most important, they are in the fairway. The last time you were in the fairway you were driving the cart for your dad.
As we stand and wait for Arnold Palmer to hit his booming three wood 250 yards, a glance into his bag stirs up a conversation. “Hey Arnie, where did you get these clubs? None of them match. Whose Spalding x2000 one iron is this?”
“Oh, I borrowed that for today in case I needed it to hit out of the woods. My friend said it’s great for escape shots. Just grip down to the steel and play the ball forward in your stance, then swing normal.”
“How often does your friend play golf? This club is really old.”
“He doesn’t play anymore. Someone gave it to him and told him it’s a great club to escape from the woods. I haven’t needed it yet. I’ve been able to hit my five wood every time I’ve been in the woods. I also read in a Golf Digest at the doctor’s office, it’s great in case driver was going to be too much but I needed some distance. Do you think it would be good to hit it now?”
We notice the chop has two seven irons. “You’ve got two sevens here. Hey didn’t you lose a seven iron back on three?”
“Yea, but that was my favorite one. Do I have time to go back now while we wait?”
“Someone will turn it in. You just focus on crushing that three wood 250.”
Holy cow! I took the head cover off his driver and it’s an old Callaway War Bird seven degree that looks like it was run over on top with a lawn mower.
“How do you like your Callaway War Bird?”
“I don’t use it. My favorite driver is the wooden one with the Tom Terrific head cover. I can smoke that one about 300 yards. I save that for the long par fives.”
Along with the two drivers, his x2000 one iron, three seven irons and a ball retriever which no chop would be without, he has an interesting mix of clubs. There’s an old three wood, not counting the one in his hands, a five wood, a heaven wood with a ladies flex shaft, an original Taylor Made Four Hybrid with an X300 steel shaft, a ProStaff three, six, eight and nine iron with graphite shafts, a pitching wedge, two 60 degree lob wedges, a rusted, groove less face sand wedge with a two inch extension, and a chipper.
We’re looking at his two identical Ping Anser putters when we notice an iron with a rubber head cover. I pull out the mystery iron, bending back the head cover to discover an old Dunlop Driving Iron.
“Hey Arnie, do you ever use this driving iron?”
“Not too often. I seem to hit it really thin every time I pull it out.” Surprise surprise.
Reason # 4.
They feel the need to count every stroke. It never fails. Every chop I’ve played with feels they should ‘play it as it lies.’ Granted, that’s a great rule everyone should remember but not chops. I’ve been playing a long time and there are shots I won’t even try. Like hitting a ball sitting two inches below the surface of the water. Or maybe the ball wedged between tree roots under a big rock. It’s not going to happen. I’ll take my punishment, penalty and go.
Chops have trouble hitting good, consistent shots at the range with a perfect lie on a tee. They might hit one in five on the face of the club if they’re lucky. The great golfer in the sky is the only one who knows where the other four hit. Take the chop on the course and they have every shot in golf. At least they will try every shot.
Our man, Arnie, had a shot end up on the bank of a lateral hazard. To hit the shot he would need to take off his shoes, stand in the hazard and hit a ball above his feet. Everyone knows it’s almost an impossible shot for a tour player much less the average golfer. But the chop is no average golfer. He sits down and begins untying his all black FootJoys.
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t want to get my shoes wet so I’m taking them off.”
Unbelievable! With shoes off and standing in water half way up his shins; he chokes the grip on his five wood and takes a cut at it. The club head buries about a foot behind the ball so he adjusts his stance. Yep. That’s what the problem was; bad ball position. This time somehow he makes solid contact and the ball comes flying out of the hazard but hooking faster than an Australian boomerang right back into the lake.
“I should have opened my club face on that shot and played for a draw. Oh well I hit it good.”
“Yes you did.”
Later, he missed another fairway and ended up in three inch deep Bermuda rough. It took us a while to find it but once we did, the chop was going to play it. He has about three hundred yards to the green and of course will lay up. No wait. Arnie has pulled out his Dunlop driving iron.
“Heads up fellas. I’m not sure where this is gonna go.”
“Hey man. That’s a difficult shot. The rough is pretty thick and that driving iron may not be able to get the ball out of there. Why don’t you just drop it out here in the fairway?”
“That would be a penalty. I want to count all my shots for a real score.”
Four swings later the ball sputters out into the fairway. “That stuff is thick! I probably should have used my five wood.” You probably should have used your head and just taken a drop.
Reason # 5.
“Don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” As we drive up the eighteenth fairway, the chop looks at me and cracks the funniest joke of the day, “What am I doing wrong?” I hope that question is meant to be rhetorical. I didn’t answer right away so Arnie pushed for an answer.
“Well, you need to practice on the range and around the greens. Maybe take a lesson or two or even a series of lessons. Until you can hit a regular shot, I wouldn’t try those shots out of the hazard or deep rough. Try to enjoy the game.”
“Hey I had a good time today. I shot 156. That’s my best score so far. It would have been more if I had taken those drops and penalty strokes like you suggested. I’m gonna wait around and see if someone turns in my seven iron. Thanks for your help today. Maybe I’ll see you again out here.”
Maybe so, hopefully when I do you’re in the group behind me!