So Good It's Bad

Golf somehow takes the blame for a Washington scandal
February 06, 2006

Were you asdisappointed as I was when superlobbyist Jack Abramoff walked out of thecourthouse in traditional Orthodox Jewish garb, which happens to look an awfullot like typical gangster chic? If Abramoff or his lawyers had given the mattermore thought, he would have worn a cashmere sweater over a Cutter & Buckpolo, salmon-colored plus fours, over-the-calf Argyle socks, saddle shoes and asalt-and-pepper tam-o'-shanter. That's the outfit for "I bought influenceby treating congressmen, their families and aides to lavish golf trips inScotland."

It bothers me whena big shot like Abramoff blows an opportunity to promote golf. Fortunately, myfriends in the mainstream media get it. "Golf is acquiring the whiff ofscandal," The New York Times trumpeted in a recent article--the scandalbeing, as far as I could tell, the 70 grand that Big Jack paid to introducerepresentatives Tom DeLay of Texas and Bob Ney of Ohio to the Old Course at St.Andrews. Golf, continued the Times, is "an almost irresistible politicalcarrot that is used to buy favor and access."

Putting aside for amoment the propriety of bribing elected officials, you have to love that golfhas become the gold-standard currency. L'affaire Abramoff makes the Abscamcongressmen of 1980, with their cash-stuffed pockets, look low-rent. It makesformer speaker of the house Jim Wright, who allegedly sold thousands of copiesof his self-published memoir to political supplicants, look like a kid with alemonade stand.

Mark Twain, were hestill alive, would have to change his definition of golf from "a good walkspoiled" to "a spoiled pol walking."

Some will miss thepoint. The Times reported that a lawyer teaching ethics to a class of FBIagents told them, "Golf is bad."

Huh? If golf werebad, you wouldn't have Washington weasels selling out Indian tribes,tree-huggers, miners' unions, teachers, retirees and poor people for a freeround in a Rust Belt pro-am. No, golf is very, very good. It's humbling: Canyou imagine how Tom (the Hammer) DeLay would treat Democrats if he had neverfour-putted from three feet? It's educational: Several courses in Hawaii areadjacent to ancient petroglyphs. It has clearly stated rules, analogous to the1978 FISA law requiring a federal warrant for domestic spying, and a code ofconduct so strict that players routinely call penalties on themselves--which nodoubt informs the conscience of former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, whocrossed the Swilcan Burn on Abramoff's dollar.

Is it too soon tonominate Abramoff for the World Golf Hall of Fame?

TRUST ME by JIM GORANT

The USGA will turn Torrey Pines into a brute for the '08Open. No one will sniff par.

PHOTOGERALD HERBERT/APBOGEY MAN
Abramoff chose not to dress like Shivas Irons for his day in court.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)