D.Q.d at the Sani-Can

By: Bob Spiwak

This will probably affect only Washington golfers, but dont be a smug smoker if you are elsewhere, because a precedent has been set. Effective December 8, 2005, nobody in Washington state may light up or puff within 25 feet of any door or window of a public place.

This may not be the end of the world for smokers on the golf course; we have for years been disallowed from feeding our habit (or addiction, as my doctor calls it) in the pro shops, in some restaurants, and even some golf course bars. Locker rooms? Forget it.

The golf course is a unique place when it comes to smoking. Being a consumer of non-filter cigs as well as cigars, I always field-strip them when finished as I was taught during the Korean War. That war, you may remember, was to keep the evil Commies from coming and telling us what we could and could not do. Come to think about it, we didnt win that one either, and now the offspring of those allies and enemies are tearing up the LPGA with their talent. As usual, I digress.

What I was getting at is I find it pretty tacky to see cigarette or cigar butts lying around the golf course, for some reason generally near the greens. At a course in Sumter, S.C., I observed the 100-foot brick pathway from the parking lot to the pro shop was absolutely littered with them. Granted, it was early April and the border flowers had not yet bloomed. My companion, a woman new to golf (and an old hand at insulting statements), asked the pro if cigarette butts were the clubs idea of landscaping.

Thinking about the three courses I play the most, to get 25 feet from any door or window puts me either in the parking lot or on the 18th green at Bear Mountain; in the parking lot or on the first tee, between the markers, at Bear Creek; and at Desert Canyon I might just make the cut at the farthest corner of the patio unless someone complains. Because, according to the law, the facility owner or manager is equally liable to punishment if the law is broken or even bent. The places I have identified are those closest to and designed for golfers to sit around and have a beer, and if inclined, puff away at a Pall Mall or perhaps a Macanudo corona.

Here it gets tricky. At most golf courses there are either constructed bathrooms or Sani-cans along the way. So while waiting for your companion(s) to do their business therein, you decide to light up a tobacco product. Pipes, by the way, are not exempt, no matter how good they smell. It is tricky because the loo is a public place, obviously, and if you are closer than 25 feet, the Smoke Police may get you. Remember, a satellite can read the hash marks on your Rolex (or $10 Indonesian copy) from outer space. And people are watching.

Well get to the Smoke Police in a moment. To save you from getting arrested, there are several ways to determine your distance from the door. You can pace it off. Just be sure to allow some extra strides if your legs are short. Or you can place a tee by the door, and taking your driver, which will run about 45 inches, take eight club-lengths from the potty door and smoke, no nearer to the hole.

Best yet is a contrivance I have developed and plan to sell on Ebay. This is a rope, 26 feet long with a hook on one end for a belt loop, and a hook on the other to attach to a door knob. The kit also includes a magnet for metal doors that the hook can attach to, as well as an eye-screw (again for the hook) that you can affix into a wooden door or window. Then you simply walk as far as the tether will let you (you should know that here Im going to say youll be at the end of your rope) and light up. This will sell for an opening bid of $5.99 on Ebay, plus S&H.

You will recognize the Smoke Police by the measuring tape on their equipment belts, which will also contain a Glock look-alike water pistol, a small gas mask in case they smell smoke, and real handcuffs. No doubt there will be undercover Smoke Cops as well, so be careful about the guy the pro has unknowingly put with your threesome. Or, it could be a woman. Examine her carefully.

It is hard to say how far this law will go. There has already been talk about making entire courses off limits to smoking, as they are public places. For now, it appears snoose or an unlit cigar will have to suffice if you want to drink with your buddies after a round. You sure as heck dont want the Smoke Fuzz to douse your $5 Cohiba with his water gun.

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, hes back to being a fanatical golfer. Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bobs 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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