My Turn: Reasons to chase little white ball

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I would like to thank Mr. Munro for stereotyping me perfectly and goading me into entering his honorable zone of entertainment, the "letter to the editor" zone.

I am also a Scot, in fact my parents are so proud of our heritage my middle name is Scott. Therefore I imagine I am a golfer, passed to me biologically from my lineage. I am the proud owner of small tools to hit hard white balls with, I am fully grown and somewhat intelligent, I enjoy spending small fortunes on a frivolous activity and as Seinfeld says, "yada, yada, yada."

Last month, I did indeed spend a small fortune to join the Juneau Golf Club. And, in so doing was able to spend time playing golf with what I found to be one of the richest groups of Juneau folks I have ever had the great fortune to meet. However, when I say rich I mean rich in spirit. Every day but one I had an opportunity to play with three people I had never met before or seen in several years. On each occasion, I was able to spend several hours discussing their job, home and family. What a terrible waste of time that was!

For me, golf is an enriching experience, like putting paint to a canvas is for others. Sure, we will have to cut trees and move land to create our theater. However, when we are done we will be looking at yards of rolling lawn, and a hunter free safe haven for deer and waterfowl. Just as many other golf courses across the globe are a safe haven for elk, deer, antelope, alligator and thousands and thousands of geese, ducks and other waterfowl. It seems to me that if pesticides and fungicides were really a worry there would be plenty of evidence for the Audubon Society to work with. If anything, the Audubon Society should be singing our praises for attempting to create this hunter-free safe haven! After all, the North Douglas woods we are discussing are probably the least safe place to be during deer hunting season in Juneau as they are just what Mr. Munro says they are: "close to a road system and basically free now of human improvements." By the way, thank God for that dreaded road system that allows you access to your basically pristine wilderness.

I give Mr. Munro kudos for quoting one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, to support his argument. As George Carlin jokes, golfers do pray hard not to hit their small white balls into sand and water traps. If one understood the game they would understand why they try to avoid these "devilishly laid out sand and water traps." Under the rules and etiquette of golf, when one hits into a hazard one must be especially careful how they enter the hazard and exit the hazard. Without going into great detail, a golfer is charged with maintaining the entire course as it was when they entered it. If they don't they can be penalized for moving even the smallest of "impediments" (small rocks). The problem with a lie in a hazard is you have to be even more careful under the rules of golf not to disturb the environment. So I ask you why would anyone who enjoys raping the land have fun playing a sport that doesn't even let them move a small rock, requires them to rake after themselves, replace their sod divots, and fix their ballmarks or be penalized? For me it's the chance to meet new people who see the course in front of them as an invitation to maintain old friendships, build new friendships, and pass on what they have learned to others.

Lastly, I would like to say that my expensive tools of trade were purchased by my Scottish grandfather in the early '60s, even though they are extremely outdated I am still very honored to play the sport he taught me with the clubs he bestowed upon me at his death. I have played hundreds of rounds of golf with them, I have met thousands of good people while playing golf with them, I have created many lifetime friends while playing with them and every time I step on a golf course I follow the etiquette my Scottish grandfather taught me. I look forward to being called to the first tee in Juneau and find a member of my foursome who is wearing cannery boots, a slicker and driving a floating (really pulled at strings with that adjective) golf cart. This character description sounds like my Norwegian grandfather who taught me some things on a golf course as well!

See you on the first tee.

Michael Scott Mauseth of Juneau has played golf for more than 30 years.

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