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On Gullibility…and Golf Ability

Did you know that if you say the word “gullible” very slowly, it actually sounds like “oranges?”

Please, tell me you didn’t just sound that out in your head.  PLEASE!

Gullibility has been on my mind a lot lately.  And I mostly blame Facebook.  (You thought I was going to say “Fox News” didn’t you?  Too easy.)

You see, every day that passes, I get to see just how gullible some of my friends actually are.  And frankly, I don’t care for it.  Like having unusual sexual proclivities, gullibility should be as private a matter as possible; one that is best restricted to as small an audience as you can manage.  Just your really close friends should see this unfortunate side of you. 

But, with the explosion of Facebook, it seems that a disturbingly high percentage of people, a lot of my friends included, simply can’t resist the urge to show how gullible they are…how incapable they seem to be of just thinking things through.

See if any of these disturbing examples ring a bell for you;

“Facebook is going to start charging people money to have a profile?  Oh, I better ‘like’ this petition to stop them!”  “The 8-pound baby with the 5-pound tumour on its face will magically get $1 from somewhere for a face transplant every time someone ‘shares’ his picture?  Oh, I better do that too then…I love babies!”  “All I have to do is click this button and I get a free i-Pad?  Oh Boy, I always wanted one of those!”  “Brittany Spears did a homemade porn tape and I can watch it here for free?  Yee Haw…I gotta see that!”  “Tim Hortons is giving a $100 gift certificate to everyone on Facebook?” (All 900 million of us) Oh boy, I better click ‘like’ and get me some of that as well!”  “I can actually see who is stalking my profile and pictures?  Damn…I better get that app!”

“And I really need to click on absolutely everything that starts off with “OMG!” or “LOL!!!” or “90% of people can’t watch this for 6 seconds” or “You won’t believe what this girl’s father saw her doing…”

And on…and on…and on…

And people are falling for this stupid crap at an alarming rate!  You’ve seen it…I’ve seen it, too many times to count. 

And the only way for it to stop is for people to STOP…AND…THINK…THINGS…THROUGH!

All of these extremely popular, pervasive scenarios are a way to bait suckers in to clicking things.  Play off their greed.  Play off their sentimentality.  Play off their private voyeurism. Play off their humour. Play off their paranoia.  (It almost sounds like page 3 from the Republican hymn book, doesn’t it?

And when you click, you’re opening up your profile, your address book, your passwords, the whole kit and caboodle, to a bunch of spammers and scammers and malcontents and devious bastards who mean you no good (and often great harm)…figuratively bending over for their benefit, just because you can’t resist. 

Can’t stop and think your way through the premise first.

The least harmful of the offenders are shady marketing companies, who want you to take some phoney survey, so they can report higher click-through data to their clients…and charge them more money for their “successful” marketing campaigns. 

The very worst of these bottom-feeders want to trick you into installing rogue apps and programs (often without knowing it) called “key-loggers,” that record your login and password information, so they can access your accounts, steal your data, assume your identity and hijack your computer to continue inflicting their shady work on others (and friends are first on that list, by the way).

Circus legend P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Fast-forward a hundred years or so, and lob in the Internet and Social Media, and there’s now about 4,000 suckers born (signed up) every minute…and they’re pressing “like” and “share” and clicking stupid crap as fast as they can. 

And along the way, as they do this, they’re opening YOU up to the same kind of exposure.  When they surrender control of their information to these knobs, sharing access to YOU is part of the deal.  

You’re welcome!

It wasn’t that long ago that I used to think that almost all of my friends were very intelligent, thoughtful, discerning people (except for their obvious error in choosing me as a friend, of course).  Oh sure, there were a few clowns in the mix too…everyone needs ‘em for some laughs and all-around, non-threatening lowbrow fun. 

Come to think about it, this is usually my role in any group! 

But for the most part, I always thought my friends were extremely smart people.  Now, after seeing how many of them behave on-line, that once illustrious list of scholars is shrinking faster than George Costanza going for a moonlight dip at Lake of the Woods.  Significant shrinkage folks…significant.

That doesn’t apply to YOU, of course, dear golfer.  Golfers, as a demographic group, have higher levels of education, better jobs and higher earnings than almost any other interest group.

Or does it?

The only reason I ask is that marketers and manufacturers and advertisers around the world seem to have developed a fairly low opinion of the intelligence of the average golfer. 

You see, they know how desperate we are to improve our play…how we agonize over outdriving our friends, or shaving a few strokes off our score, or getting rid of the dreaded yips.  And, in an effort to get as deep into our collective golfing pockets as they possibly can, they’ve released a never-ending series of absolutely ridiculous “inventions” to help us get what they want…errrr, what WE want.

And the most ridiculous of them all just hit the Golf Channel commercial sets this week. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the cure to all your golfing woes…the one secret guaranteed to make you hit the ball, straighter and farther than ever before and cut big strokes off your scores…the most revolutionary training aid invention ever.  Introducing…”

THE STICK!”

Yes folks, the latest, “hottest” golf invention and swing improvement aid for sale is a stick.  A stick!!! 

Please disregard the fact that you already have 14 stick-like things in your golf bag (or more, if you’re one of my sandbagging friends)…these sticks are “special.”  We invented them! 

But wait…there’s more!  They also fold up! 

And they’re only $19.95!

AND they’re endorsed by PGA Tour “legends” John Mahaffey and Fuzzy Zoeller!  (Neither of whom seem to have anything to say about them on camera…but are more than happy to have their names and images used in TV commercials and attached to the sticks)

Fuzzy doesn’t have to worry about his Tiger Woods fried chicken and watermelon Masters dinner gaff anymore.  This one tops that by a long shot!  (I always like Fuzzy and felt really badly for him for that silly incident.  Now, after seeing this commercial, I just feel kind of sad for him).

If you haven’t seen these commercials yet, I swear, this story is absolutely true.  There’s actually a commercial on the Golf Channel right now, selling sticks that are endorsed by Fuzzy Zoeller and John Mahaffey.  In the past 2 days I’ve seen this ad 5 or 6 times in my very limited viewing schedule. 

And if you’re the kind of person I think you are…you’re probably laughing uproariously at this stupidity right now.  I mean, really…WHO the hell would pay 20 bucks for a stick, right?

Well, before you shrug it off and say “no one is that stupid!”consider this; the inventors of this breathtakingly stupid “device” are spending thousands of dollars a pop, to advertise their product on the Golf Channel.  They’re gambling that enough golfers are that desperate and that gullible, to buy their “invention” and make them rich.

And, you know, I bet a lot of your friends on Facebook would give this a serious look too.  If only they could get Fuzzy to say “OMG!”

Results – The Arnold Palmer Invitational

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Justin Rose

T15

 $              96,000 Ernie Els

T4

 $                209,571
Sean O’Hair

T29

 $              39,900 John Huh

T73

 $                 11,580
Sergio Garcia

T33

 $              33,900 Cameron Tringale

CUT

 $                        –  
Webb Simpson

T36

 $              27,650 Camilo Villegas

T42

 $                 20,400
This Week’s Total    $             197,450 This Week’s Total    $                241,551
Season Total    $          8,990,702 Season Total    $             2,242,620

Another oh-so-close week for sentimental favourite Ernie Els.  Another great disappointment for The Big Easy and his fans.

And, for all the rabid Tiger lovers out there, the week where they can finally proclaim “he’s back!” after saying the same thing every week for the past 20 months or so…or vehemently denying every week that he was ever “gone” in the first place.

To be quite honest, I had a tremendous struggle with whether to take Woods for the Arnie Invitational or not.  All the stars just seemed to be lining up for him going into this tournament; his recent return to form, his almost-but-not-quite challenges for the past few tournaments he’s entered, the fact that he’s won at Bay Hill six previous times. 

But in the end, I decided “not.”

I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the kind of objectivity a handicapper should have when picking winners, but in my mind, picking Woods to win a tournament is the next best thing to rooting for him….and rooting for Woods ranks right up there with volunteering for an anaesthetic-free, 4-day colonoscopy.  Not gonna happen.

The Houston Open

T-minus one week and counting until The Masters…and, based on the way the season has unfolded so far, the golf world is literally vibrating with excitement over the kind of major this has the potential to become.

But first, there’s one more chance for the uninvited to muscle their way onto Magnolia Lane…and that chance card is waiting on the 72nd hole at Redstone Golf Club in Houston.  Do not pass go, do not collect $1,080,000, do not wait for your Masters invite if you don’t hoist the trophy this weekend.

Pressure time.

And that’s one of the great things about this tournament that makes it so engaging; it’s a last-ditch, no-holds-barred, free-for-all stab and getting to Augusta…or getting ready for Augusta.

And just about anything can happen along the way.

This is the course where guys like Mickelson, Couples and Singh have done (and still do) their final warm-up for the green jacket.  And, just to add to the heat of the event, it’s also Ernie’s last gasp at a tee time next weekend.  You can bet your last buck that if the Big Easy’s last name were Woods, the Golf Channel would have 3 cameras following him for every shot on every hole, all week long.

Derek’s Picks

Phil Mickelson – At some point, many, many years from now, autopsy results will reveal that the golfer we know as Phil Mickelson, was actually carrying around a parasitic life form from another galaxy.  This life form, when not dormant, controlled Phil’s every action with a golf club and turned him into a raving, hell-bent-for-leather lunatic at the slightest whim.

Or, we may find out that this parasitic life form actually came out of hibernation from time to time, to sedate the normally ůber-aggressive Mickelson and turn him into a methodical, calculating, laser-guided golf machine.

Either way that it turns out that this symbiant/host relationship is ordered, the Phil we know is definitely a guy…who is in fact two completely different guys. 

And finding out which one decides to show up each week, sometimes each day, is part of the thing that makes Phil so entertaining to watch.

Mickelson started off the year; T49, Cut, T26.  And then, when everyone had a big fork in him, he finished 1 and P2 (lost in a playoff) in back-to-back weeks.  Not satisfied with that run, he then went T43, T24.  He’s a human toilet seat; up-down-up-down-make up your mind, already!

Phil is the defending champ at Houston this year.  He prepped himself for Augusta in 2011 by taking Firestone apart to the tune of -20…a full three strokes better than the second-best guys on the course.  He then stumbled down Magnolia Lane and finished deep in the pack.

But, despite how much of a hurry we’re all in to get there, next week in Georgia can look after itself, for now.  Meanwhile, I’m saying “the seat is up” this week for Mickelson at Houston.

Keegan Bradley – Who is the one guy, among all the heavy-hitters from 2011 who hasn’t won a tournament yet in 2012?  Keegan Bradley. 

And the way this season has gone so far, that pretty much means he’s a lock this week, doesn’t it?

Consider the facts; the names who have lifted the trophies so far in 2012 are Stricker, Donald, McIlroy, Mickelson, Haas, Mahan, Snedeker, Rose, Woods and Wilson.  Sure, there were a few others along the way who were less noteworthy (“Huh…what do you mean?”), but almost every heavyweight player from the past two years, except Bradley and Webb Simpson  (who idn’t playing this week), has already lifted a trophy-laden arm and made their mark on the FedEx Cup race.  (I almost said “lifted a leg and marked their territory,” but the whole toilet/bathroom metaphor was out of gas, don’t you think?)

Out of gas?  Damn, I did it again!

It’s been another excellent season for Bradley so far; he’s played in EIGHT tournaments this year…and his worst finish so far is T22! 

I’m pretty sure I won’t like his chances at Augusta, but as far as this week in Houston goes, Keegan is DUE! 

Steve Stricker –   About the only thing that hasn’t happened in this action-packed season so far, is the crowning of our first multiple-event champion.  And, if all the stars line up the way they could, Steve Stricker could easily be that guy.

To the great frustration of his devoted fans, Stricker has only played in a mere handful of tournaments so far this season…if you can even call 4 tournaments a handful?

But, when he does show up, Stricker is a man on a mission!  He started off the year by winning the Tournament of Champions, then had one or two fruity umbrella drinks too many and dropped to T38 the next week at the Sony.  Then he took 5 weeks off! 

Since returning to the mainland, Stricker has only played in the two events, both of the WGC’s…where his worst finish against the world’s elite was T9 and his best was T8.  Those are some pretty hefty credentials to take into this week’s tourney folks.

And as far as his resume in Houston is concerned, Stricker would be a pretty good bet in this tourney even if he didn’t have all of those other factors (above) going for him.  Last year he finished T4 at Redstone.  Throw in a T11 in 2008, T9 in 2007 and T3 in 2006 and there’s pretty much no one else in the field with a record as strong as Stricker on this course in recent years.

Yup…I like his chances a lot this week.

Hunter Mahan – Boy, this was a tough slot to fill.  Too many good choices, not enough room left on the lifeboat. 

Lee Westwood, the former World #1 who took the crown away from Woods, and who has probably received the least respect and attention of the guys to climb to the top of the world in the past 2 years, is a good pick at Houston.  He’s posted three top 30 finishes here, in the past three years, including a T11 in 2010 and T8 in 2009.  Then there’s Paddy Harrington; with some pretty hot recent form and a T8 here last year, plus a couple other top 30s. 

And then, of course, there are two sentimental favourites almost everyone will be cheering for this week; Els and Couples.  And both of them have a legitimate shot!  Couples won last week on the Senior’s Tour and has hoisted the trophy in Houston before. 

And Els…well, what can you say?  He’s in great form…he’s been in contention…he’s come oh so close…this is his last grasp at an invite for Augusta.  It would be a perfect Cinderella outcome…and a really cool capper to an already riveting season of golf.

But in the end, I decided to go with Hunter Mahan.  And, like Stricker above, he’s probably the next-best qualified guy in the field to claim his second win of the 2012 season.

Mahan has already had an excellent year to this point.  Five top 25 finishes in 6 starts, including two top 10’s.  And his win at the WGC Match Play was a thing of beauty!

As far as his most recent form goes, he’s not exactly on fire though…T24 at the WGC Cadillac and T42 at the Palmer.  But, you can offset those performances with some very strong play in Houston in year’s past; T8 in 2011, T6 in 2009, T5 in 2007 and T11 in 2006.  His record on this track is only surpassed by Stricker.

I think Mahan will be feeling under a lot of pressure next week at The Masters, with everyone placing high expectations on him after his WGC win.  But as far as this week goes, he should be feeling pretty loosey-goosey and at ease…and that makes him a dangerous cat in the field.

And now that I’ve had my babble, let’s see what my daughter did on the dartboard this week…

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard): 

  • Sunghoon Kang
  • J.J. Killeen
  • Jamie Lovemark
  • Andres Romero

 And that’s all for now folks.  As always, thanks very much for reading…and for playing along with my silliness.  And enjoy the action in Houston!

 Cheers,

 Derek

 

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derekaubrey

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for the heads up Derek. I’m sure all golfers will be out purchasing ‘The Stick’ to complete their set. At least those old enough to remember when David Ledbetter ‘invented’ the yardstick for putting…

    • And let’s not forget Peter Jacobsen’s “Straightjacket” from a few years ago Steve. That was another real winner!

      Thanks very much for reading…and for contributing to the insanity

      (I’d forgotten all about Leadbetter’s yardstick. As a matter of fact, I’ve pretty much forgotten about Leadbetter entirely)

      Derek

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