Baby, It's Cold Outside

By: Bob Spiwak

Anyone who lives in snow country will understand the frustration of looking out the window and seeing a sea of white. Those in the Sun Belt, while empathizing with us in the north just cannot get the helpless feeling, of watching a tourney on the telly and not being able to play.

When Tim Finchem, Panjandrum of the PGA Tour, made the money machine of television golf spew even more dollars, the Golf Channel became the major (and in some cases, only) vehicle for watching golf. I had not even been tempted to have our satellite dish pick up TGC. To get it, one has to pay an additional 30 bucks a month to get a bigger package from the satellite provider, in our case Dish Network.

This winter I finally caved in. I wanted to watch the tournaments - as many as I could before being able to escape our ice box and play the game its own self.

TGC does offer weekday rounds of Tour events as well as other tours: European, Asian, LPGA and lesser ones. What TGC offers too, ad nauseum, are infomercials. Being a golf channel, these glorified ads all have people of varying stature in the world of golf selling or testimonializing products and/or regimes that will make you a much better golfer. Somehow, almost all that is being sold - from heavy drivers to exercise DVD's - can be yours for three easy payments of only $29.95.

I confess to buying one item that was relatively cheap, a golf glove with a hinge for $39.95. It is supposed to either make my wrist cock better, or less. I really don't remember and have used it for only nine holes when the weather allowed last month. My game did not improve.

I know what is wrong with my game, I cannot putt worth a s**t! The only part of the game worse than my putting is sand play.

There are machines, drills, DVDs and equipment for these maladies and more. They range from three to five payments of $-something -9.95. Sorry, did I mention these payments are EASY. I have yet to determine what a hard payment would be. Maybe a traffic fine or alimony.

What TGC badly needs is a search engine like on a computer. I could turn on the tube and in a rectangle type "Bunker Play," hit Search, and the appropriate infomercial would appear to beguile me with testimonials from pros to hackers with many shots and the sound of the ball clunking into the cup.

Currently, in case you did not know, the hot infomercial is for a wedge in your choice of three different lofts for three easy payments of $39.95. There is also a device for improved putting, but I always switch channels when anything about putting comes up. Along with my 72-year-old yips, I suffer from blind-right-eye floaters, one leg an inch shorter than the other, and a bad defeatist mental attitude. I don't need any more negative reinforcement, thank you, even for three easy payments of $49.95.

I just turned around and honestly, the wedge commercial is on the air. When I began writing this piece, it was Gary Koch shilling for some guy selling exercise DVD's. This looks legit because proclaiming the virtues of the product (three easy payments of $29.95) are golf luminaries like Arnie, Gary Player, Gary Koch, Donna Caponi and John Jacobs.

There is still an hour and a half before the Honda Classic comes on. I think I will switch to a channel that shows Smiling Bob selling a product for erectile dysfunction. At my age, success in that area is far more important than putting. And it costs less than anything on the Golf Channel.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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