OCRAP (Observe, Courtesy, Repair, Attire and Pretend)

by Paul de Denus

#1 Observe

From the first tee to a rough fairway to the smooth surface of the green, the goal is to observe and follow your golf ball, your fellow foursome's golf balls, and the adjoining fairways foursome's wayward golf balls. You must always be on the lookout for golf is fraught with hazard: water, sand, wildlife, marshy thickets, wandering elderly; it's a real challenge to the full-of-himself golfer in his colorful attire. Try to forget for a while your own ‘look at me' attitude and start looking around for you never know what's lying ahead or what's tracking behind; always be on alert. For instance, you may come upon an elderly couple quietly tending their tomato garden in a bunker on the eighth hole where unfortunately your ball has landed. Senility may have led them to this place but they are more likely than not harmless and is it a surprise… of course it is, quite frightening really but if you're observant, you may see that there are a bunch of discarded tomatoes littering the crooked path leading up to a house just behind the bunker. Suggest to them that you would like to purchase a few of their tomatoes and when they head off to the house to get you “a nice brown paper bag”, pitch your ball out (careful to avoid the scarecrow in tam o'shanter cap and knickerbockers) and move on quickly before they come back.


#2 Courtesy

Golf is played in the wonderful wonderland of nature and lost in the wild, you'll need to be aware and respectful of sharing this carved out piece of natural habitat with its current rightful inhabitants: eagle, rabbit, gofer, fox, snake, homeowner foolish enough to have purchased along the fairway. All reside in your field of play and are potential targets for your unskilled gaffs and yes, it is possible for your wayward tee shot to de-beak an unsuspecting falcon that was peacefully dozing in its nest deep in the woods some thirty feet off the fairway and it's not unheard of to inadvertently scorch the top of a rabbit‘s skull or even blow a lizard in half that was minding its own business sunning on a rock near the thirteenth hole. (Oh, unlucky 13!!!) There's really nothing you can say other than “Yikes!” but if you find yourself stepping in and falling down this all too common rabbit hole of course discourse then listen up. Golf will test all of a player's mental, physical and emotional considerations: for example, out of the blue, a ball lands on the green just as you are about to putt and your initial reaction probably goes something like this- reason tells you golf balls don't grow on trees so it didn't just drop from that annoying knotty pine overhanging the green so searching the horizon, you zero in on the asshole that had the luck to hit her ball some three hundred plus yards and you simmer as the foursome of silhouetted cavewomen dance and high-five each other. If this tribe of hostiles had any understanding of golf etiquette, they would know that all players currently on a green should be clear of it before the next group can hit and perhaps it was just an unfortunate mistake on their part but then a second ball lands even closer to the hole and you are forced to institute this helpful rule. It's called Burying the Hatchet rule and goes like this: with a sand wedge, hack deep furrows in the green where their balls landed and then bury them deep using your heel to really, really get them down there thus delaying them for a while and allowing time for some welcomed breathing room.


#3 Repair

This rule is less of an issue mainly because you're surrounded by nature and not in an environment that can be easily controlled or readily fixed. You can't just turn off the wind, that huge sequoia rudely planted in front of your ball can't be moved, that nutty squirrel running down the fairway with your ball can't be arrested. What can you do? Just understand that the leaves, acorns and vermin lurking about can be a good thing, a logical reason as to why you didn't play well. Replacing divots, plugging ball marks, raking bunkers- these minor disturbances shouldn't bother you too much for they take very little time or effort to fix or ignore. Now if you come across, for instance, an unfortunate ‘Burying the Hatchet' incident…


#4 Attire

Attire covers everything from what you physically wear to the golf clubs you use so be conscientious of how you appear on the course and if I may, I'd suggest LOUD as a good way to start and depending on your handicap, following a color code similar to that of Homeland Security; after all, it's a safety issue. A bright red jumpsuit for a high handicapper tells fellow golfers you're a clear and present danger, a serene green for a low scratch player suggests an incident-free round and brings just a hint of envy from others. Your golf clubs should also match your playing ability though this is usually not the case, for many players feel the fancier and more expensive the club, the better they will play. I was once paired with an imbecile dangerously waggling a shiny new Cobra and his ensuing tee shot traveled ten feet and forty-five degrees right, squarely into an unaware Palmetto bush. He had several immediate excuses at the ready (moved his three- bedroom apartment, had not played in five years, currently nursing a hangover.) I would suggest he wear a bright Caution yellow outfit that screamed “Liar!!!”


#5 Pretend

Golf for most enthusiasts is a fantasy. It's beautifully marketed on the idea that if you spend enough money and time on gizmos and gadgets, videos and lessons, practice and practice, you will eventually be able to break that magic number of 200. Yes it's fun and good exercise and a way of escaping the family but ultimately it's a chance to imagine possessing an improbable skill. Miraculously, that improbable skill will actually show up sometime during the round when by chance, one in your delusional foursome flukes a magical shot. Congratulations will abound and all will pretend to buzz about the shot as if it had actually been planned. Try to remember that moment because it may be the one thing that will keep you coming back to the golf course to find that perfect lie again.