Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Going for the Green 

If we're going to watch anybody play golf, it's going to be someone who's patently obscure

Wednesday, Aug 11 2004
We're not a fan of golf (utterly appalled by its horde of cultlike devotees would be a more apt description of our feelings). But as the official St. Louis, Mo., correspondent for Dog Bites, we don't usually have a lot to report to the mother ship. So when our hamlet hosts the U.S. Senior Open, we decide to open our minds and explore. Maybe we can begin to understand the passion our nation's Republican males have for this great Scottish game.

Procuring a nifty media pass that allows us unfettered access to the players and our own seat in the media tent, right next to the Quincy Herald Whig, we drink a few cups of Michelob Ultra jacked from the ultra-posh Bellerive clubhouse. Then we set off to track down players we've actually heard of.

You have to be at least 50 to qualify for the Senior Tour, so the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Hale Irwin are the main attractions at this major sporting event, if you can call it that. But old Arnie is surrounded by fans at every turn, and if Player is preparing to wipe his sun-leathered face with a hankie, you can bet there'll be a gaggle of men wearing sandals made of Space Age polymers gathered around to see it.

So we make a command decision: If we're going to watch anybody play golf, it's going to be someone who's patently obscure. Enter George Green, a lanky South San Franciscan who's shanking his way up the 16th fairway. And boy, have we hit the jackpot. This fellow is an absolute gold mine of mediocrity.

According to our trusty media guide, Green has $750 in career Senior Tour winnings (culled from last year's Senior Open, where his lowest round was an 83) and finds it tough to balance golf with being a school psychologist (he shrinks heads at Gunn High School in Palo Alto). He does it, it seems, "because of faith that he can be competitive." Maybe he's the one who needs therapy.

"Today went pretty good," he imparts after his practice round, having been joined by his wife, Holly. "I hit a lot of fairways and greens."

So how does he feel about his chances of winning this major?

"My first goal would be to make the cut," he says, referring to the group of the top 60 (plus ties) who will survive the first two rounds and play on the weekend. He goes on to reveal that he likes blues music and lives on a houseboat in San Francisco Bay.

Dog Bites is now officially, unconditionally, rooting for George Green. Unfortunately, not everyone in attendance is so wise.

"Who was that?" one fan asks another, passing Green the next day en route to scope out another golfer. They're aided only by a placard that reads "Green G."

"Gary Green," his buddy says confidently.

Seconds later, the routine is repeated with another pair of geniuses. "Gilbert Green," one speculates.

Green, meanwhile, is on his way to equaling his Senior Open best round of 83. That's good enough to place him ahead of eight of the 156 other players and vault him into a tie with Arnold Palmer. Unfortunately, it leaves Green 18 shots out of the lead.

But all is not lost. Play is rained out on Friday, meaning that our boy is well rested for Saturday. Today's 18 holes will make or break him.

Green looks confident as he swings his, um, golf stick thing around the course, and we're so charmed by the warmth and love for the game that Green exudes we don't pay attention to his score. When he finishes, we're elated to see he's shot an 86, for a total of 27 over par for the tourney. That's one of the highest scores we've seen!

Then we remember that big numbers are bad news in golf. To make matters worse, the spectators are talking trash. "Eighty-six? I could do that," an overweight watcher editorializes.

"How do you feel about your performance?" we ask a sweaty, well-tanned Green afterward.

"I just had some terrible holes today," the qualifier confesses. "I had a nine on a par-four. I was missing a lot of the shorter putts, which added up."

"So, are you going to stay around?" we persist, loath to see our hero abandon ship.

"I'm going to head out," he says and soon does. We shed a tear as he leaves and hope that he can turn his therapist skills inward to psych himself for another run at the title. Because we can hardly wait till next year. (Ben Westhoff)

About The Author

John Mecklin


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"