Golf Like Frenchman – Time to Mix Up Your Game

Warning; the following story is true.  Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Over the years I’ve been extremely fortunate to have mixed myself in with a wacky, remarkably intelligent, wonderfully goofy and very successful bunch of guys. 

We come from an improbably wide variety of backgrounds and professions, but there are a few commonalities that bind us together tighter than Oprah’s track pants; a work hard-play hard attitude, an absolute passion for golf and an anything-for-a-laugh approach to being together and squeezing the most out of every moment we’re lucky enough to share.

Regrettably, those opportunities are becoming fewer and farther between…but there’s always our annual golf tournament down in New York to draw virtually everyone in the crew together one magical time each year.

And as time has passed, our merry little group has drawn like-minded (some would say “simple-minded”) newbies, who all just seem to “fit” from the start.  It’s almost something that you can smell; the instant you meet someone new and just know that they’re destined to become one of us.

The original group of 7 or 8 guys has now grown into something bigger and more remarkable.  It’s like a living organism that just keeps expanding…fed by nothing other than its own momentum and some kind of bizarre gravitational tug on sympathetic organisms.

We are The Borg…of golf, rum, outrageous pranks and perpetually arrested development.  And if you’re anything like us, resistance is futile…you will be assimilated.

To say that my golfing friends are a bunch of characters would be an understatement of epic proportions.  These guys are so far off the scale, they simply defy measurement…and the stories I could tell you about Jesper, Harrison, Pokey, Svenulous, Oloaf, Mel, Hamish, King William, Per Ulrik, Toban, Pubert, FB, Mats, MacLarge, McFarty, Tulip Boy and the rest of our merry band would seem more and more improbable by the second.

And, after telling you a few legendary tales, as you stumbled out of the bar, shaking your head and telling everyone you pass how full of crap I was, each of the boys would nod and wink and giggle like schoolgirls, as they confirmed to the hangers-on that every word was actually true. 

Like any magnificent recipe, the sum is greater than the individual portions…and each of us brings our own unique contribution to the blend.  If you’re at all curious, I’m the Minister in charge of poorly-considered, but effective punch lines, funny voices, pratfalls and tee-clearing flatulence. 

Perhaps my biggest contribution to the group though, is in being the bad example everyone else’s wives like to trot out when laying down the law…or when considering some kind of punishment for their own spouse’s misbehaviour. 

If one of the guys is about to get cut off from some groinal activity for a spell, you can almost guarantee that my name would have been injected into the missus’ tirade first…as in “what the hell were you thinking, I’d expect something like that from Derek, not YOU!!!”

I like to think I’m one of the more valuable members of the group; because I make everyone else look relatively great and saintly and wholesome by comparison.  In fact, it’s probably the only reason these guys let me hang out with them…that and the laughs I provide (intentionally or not).

If were to recount all the contributions made by each of the guys I’ve already mentioned (and all the stories that go along with them), I’d probably never be able to finish writing.

But there is one guy in particular that I wanted to tell you about; Frenchman.

You see, since Labour Day weekend is now in the rear-view mirror…and we’re deep into the back nine of our golf season, I figured you might be ready for a little change in your regular routine to freshen things up in your group a bit.

And that’s where Frenchman comes into the story.

First, the name Frenchman itself is somewhat misleading.  As far as I can remember, I don’t recall him ever speaking a single word of French. 

He’s called “Frenchman” because he was raised in Montreal…and played golf in his youth at Royal Montreal.  Back in the day, I believe he even caddied for Moe Norman on that track once.

I suppose, if really pressed, he must speak a few words of French…probably just enough to order 20 or 30 different kinds of drinks, plus a side of poutine, use every French swear word ever invented and then get my face slapped…but not much more than that.

Frenchman’s main contributions to our gaggle of golf gigglers are three-fold; first, he’s capable of shooting some frighteningly low scores.  Second; he can drink prodigious amounts of alcohol, while shooting those scores, without ever showing the least signs of drunkenness.  And third, he’s the Minster of Goofy Gambling Games.

Depending on the day of the week, Frenchman is either the worst great golfer you’ve ever seen, or the greatest bad golfer you’ve ever seen.  (That quote is courtesy of our friend Jesper). Here’s a guy who can play a 36-hole medal event and shoot a smooth 74 from the back tees on Saturday…and then follow it up with a smooth 97 on Sunday. 

When he’s “on,” 300+ yard drives are routine, ho-hum affairs.  When he’s “off” he can still hit 300+ drives with stunning regularity; but now they’re 150 yards straight out and 150 violently snapped to the left…followed by a well-lunged golf shoe in his golf bag.

This is probably no surprise to you, but the drinking thing is a pretty common contribution among our entire group, so there’s no real point in belabouring it here…other than to say that Frenchman has made some unique advancements in the field.  Every year he introduces us to a new concoction, and often as not, they’re good enough to become “the official wobbly pop de la weekend.” 

Nothing tops the year that he discovered White Russians though, and promptly double-fisted his new-found liquid miracle around the course for 4 straight days…in one-gallon (US) milk jugs!!!  Yes, a jug in each hand at ALL times.  Now THAT’s commitment.

Remember that part I said about not believing our stories? 

But the REAL reason I wanted to tell you about the legendary exploits of Frenchman is for the third attribute I mentioned; the one revolving around his role as Minister of Goofy Gambling Games.

If there’s a wager to be made, Frenchman will find the angle.  And the more inventive and complex the game, the more exciting it is for him.

When I think about it, this is probably the by-product of shooting 74-94.  When you’re in the middle of doing the former, the money and entertainment look after themselves. When you’re in the middle of doing the latter though, you need something to distract you from the pain…and give you a reason to keep teeing it up (like going on to the back 9, instead of straight for the bar).

Warning – Reader’s Discretion is Advised

For the faint of heart; do yourself a huge favour and stop reading now.  Start scrolling down to the golf prognosticating buried beneath the rest of the Frenchman story.  The information you’re about to be exposed to is not for the timid, those with heart conditions or weak bowels (we call that one Floey).  Consider this your fair warning.

But, for those of you who are bored to death with the same old, hum-drum $5 Sunday Nassau, read on. 

What follows is your secret handshake entrance into a whole new world…of losing money in magically mysterious ways.


Enter the “Incidental;” Frenchman’s raison d’être.

An Incidental is like a “prop bet.”  If “X” happens, then you pay “Y.”  As in, “if you lose 50 pounds by Thanksgiving, your foe pays you $500.”

But in Frenchman’s world, the Incidental is a series of golfing accomplishments and/or misadventures that can be parlayed into profits (which, of course, can then be parlayed into another jug of White Russians).

Here then is a not-so-comprehensive list of Frenchy’s Incidentals.  The only reason this list isn’t comprehensive is because, like our giggling group, it seems to grow a little larger every year.

“Incidental” – A shot-by-shot, hole-by-hole series of enforced side bets, in addition to any other games that you may have on the go. 

Considered a bet for additional fun (if losing even more money is fun for you).  You can look at it this way – after any horrendous shot, you still may have an opportunity to win some coin.

“10 to 1er” – After launching a huge drive on any par 4 or par 5 you can throw a “Ten-to-Oner” at any or all of your opponents.  This means you are under the impression your opponent has no chance of out-driving you. 

If your opponent does not out drive you, you win the bet (the “Oner”).  If he actually has the poor taste to out-drive you, then you owe him ten times the bet (usually the bet is a buck so you would lose ten dollars, hence the term “Ten-to-Oner”) 

Also your huge drive has to be in the fairway, or you lose ten times your bet.  If you hit, call a ten-to-oner, and then discover your ball rolled off, or through the fairway…you’ve screwed yourself. 

Once challenged, you cannot decline a Ten-to-Oner…you big girl. 

“Jabby” – Having the nerve to call a 10 to 1er before you hit…and then snapping your tee shot out of bounds.  This costs you 3 Incidentals. 

During a round Jabby will often call 10-to-1ers three or four holes in advance…and once called, they are binding.

[”Jabby” is also known as Frenchman.  We all have 3 or 4 (or more) nicknames, depending on the circumstances at hand.  The etymology of the nickname “Jabby” comes from Frenchman’s not-so-heroic feats with his putter.]

“Oozler” – Scottish term for “closest to the hole” on a par 3.  The closest to the hole (on the green in regulation) has the opportunity to win the “Oozler.”  In order to secure the cash though, he has to get down in no worse than par. 

If the schmuck three putts, he has just “won” the “Boozler,” which means he has to buy each of the other members of his foursome a drink. 

If you make the par (“Oozle”) you could end up winning 3 bucks (if Incidentals are $1), or if your putting needs lots of work,  you could end up losing $15 or $20 in cocktails when “Bev” pulls up in the drink cart. 

So here’s some Frenchman strategy for you: be leery of hitting any par 3 if you have an opponent lying forty or fifty feet from the hole. Lay up beside the green, chip and one putt and let him buy you a drink – just a thought.

“Boozler” – see “Oozler.”  (And try to pay better attention!)

If no one hits the green the next par 3 is a Double Oozler/Double Boozler.  If no one hits that one the next is a triple, so on and so forth.  This is pretty important if you are teeing off the back nine and no one has claimed an Oozler or Boozler yet. 

”Ferret” – To chip in or putt in from off the green for par or better…just like a ferret (a little animal that likes to disappear in a hole).

“Barky” – If you hit any part of a tree and still make your par, you get one Incidental.  This is also known as “getting a ‘J.”

Only one barky per stroke is allowed, so don’t think you get two barkies for hitting two trees on the same shot.  You do get two barkies for hitting two trees on two separate shots though. 

You cannot call your own barky – your playing partners have to witness it, so make sure one of them is aware that you have a potential barky on your hands.

“Rommel” – Making par after hitting into a bunker (known in some circles as a “Sandy.”  Fairway bunkers count as Rommels as well.

“Skippy” – Making par, ever though you skipped your ball off the surface of a water hazard. Also known as an “Admiral Halsey.”

“Benchy” – Hitting any bench beside a tee off area and still making par (you’d be surprised how many benches our group has hit…wear a cup).

“Posty” – Hitting any post holding up a sign/hole marker, etc. – you get the picture – and making your par. 

“Cousteau” – Playing your ball out of a water hazard and making your par.  This is a rare one and pays out triple value. Remember to wear your rain pants for this one…or drop trou and go au natural. 

Bill Haas won the FedEx Cup last year with a Cousteau on the final hole.  He’d never make it in our group though, because he kept his pants on.

“Amelia Earhardt” – Scoring par after going out of bounds.  This pays a double Incidental.

“Chuckle” – You have to get up and down from off the green. 

That means a chip and a one-putt, or one putt from the fringe and making the next putt. 

You can call a Chuckle from anywhere on the course if you are cocky enough.  How about the 150 or 200 marker?

If you call a Chuckle and skull it across the green you can call another one and if you make that it cancels the first missed Chuckle. 

It really kills the opponents when you call a Chuckle, hit it through the green, call another one and sink it – better known as a “Chuckle-Chuckle-Ferret” (“CCF” on the scorecard).  It’s absolutely devastating and demoralizing to your opponents, especially if it’s a par 3 and an Oozler/Boozler is on the line.  If you miss the putt it is a negative Chuckle (-1 Incidental).

“Melly” – Recording par after airmailing your approach shot over the green so badly it goes out of bounds.

“Snake” – You earn a Positive Snake for holing a putt that is longer than the length of the flag (one Incidental).

You suffer a Negative Snake for any three putt – it doesn’t matter how long the first putt was.  Even if you putt your first stroke from off of the green, the next stroke is your second putt.

“Dragon” – A mythical creature denoting the dreaded four putt. A dragon is worth 2 Incidentals (against you, of course).

“Stevie” (as in Wonder) – The unthinkable five putt – you must be blind to miss the last one.  A Stevie is worth 3 negative Incidentals on your tab. 

If you get a Stevie, you should start drinking immediately.  It’s not a rule…it’s just very good advice.

“Alexei” – Salvaging par after “laying up” into a water hazard.  Also known as a “Captain Nemo.” You must declare the lay-up before hitting.

Per Ulrik” – Scoring par from the parking lot.

“Pink Lady” – The ignominious act of not clearing the lady’s tee with your drive.  This costs you one Incidental. 

Some of you will recognize this scenario as a classic “Dick Out.”  We prefer to blend some financial pain into the humiliation for a well-rounded experience. 

(Besides, nudity isn’t really much of a penalty with this crew.  They’ll generally use any excuse to drop their pants or whip out their Johnsons…you know memorable occasions like seeing passing birds or clouds, or when the wind changes direction).

“Svenny”- Scoring par after committing a “Pink Lady.”  You earn two Incidentals.

“Scrotey” – Making par after caroming a shot off a playing partner’s golf bag (or other)

“Cabbie” – Making par after cracking one off a golf cart. 

You earn a Negative Incidental however, if you hit the beer bunny’s golf cart…and a triple Negative Incidental if she drives away from your group afterward, without stopping to serve you some life-saving refreshments.

“Hogan” – Making par after ricocheting a shot off a sprinkler head or paved cart path.

“Arnie” – Making par after 1) not hitting the fairway and 2) not hitting the green in regulation. 

“Floey” – Hitting yourself in the process of making the putting stroke (as in putting the ball into your own foot or driving the putter into your foot on the follow-through).  This HAS happened in our group…and it is worth 3 negative Incidentals.  Also known as a “Van Borkyberg.”

“Bingo/Bango/Bongo” – A pretty common game, but one that is worth mentioning. 

You win the “Bingo” by being the longest drive in your group (in the fairway).  You win the “Bango” by being first on the green (or closest to the hole).  And you win the “Bongo” by being the first in the hole.

If you have some short hitters in the group, you can replace the long drive (Bingo) with being first on the green and award the Bango for being closest to the hole.

On par 3’s, you may forgo the “Bingo” entirely (so that only 2 Incidentals are awarded) or double the value of the “Bango” (the closest ball to the hole)

To play “B/B/B” properly you must play in turn…no “ready golf.”

“Conventional Incidentals”

When playing Incidentals, you also get rewarded for doing straightforward great golf stuff too.  It’s not all just hitting trees, skipping balls off water and other goofy stuff.

“Birdies” – A Birdie is worth one Incidental.

“Eagles” – Eagles are worth three Incidentals.

“Albatross” – An Albatross is worth five Incidentals

“Ace” – Holes in one are worth ten Incidentals

“Bogies, Double-bogies and worse” – There are no negative Incidentals for shooting bogies, double-bogies or worse.  You’ve already suffered enough, you poor bastard. 

Final Words of Wisdom on Incidentals

As the game progresses, you’ll hear lots of whining and more than a little amount of strange verbiage from veterans of the game. 

Be prepared to hear stuff like “if I chip this in it will be for a Barky-Sandy-Ferret-Chuckle-Eagle” worth an astonishing 6 Incidentals.”

And don’t think this can’t happen as Frenchman himself has won five Incidentals on one hole (consisting of Double Barky-Sandy-Ferret-Birdie).

Like I said at the top, this game is NOT for the faint of heart.  And be prepared to start leaking cash like the Exxon Valdez leaked oil, if you’re playing against a golfing Rainman. 

It’s entirely possible you could be leading a match play event, 3-up after the first 3 holes…and still find yourself down 20 or 30 bucks!

Bring lots of cash (plus an accountant who doesn’t drink) and enjoy!

Results – The Deutsche Bank Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Luke Donald


 $        54,444 Jonas Blixt


 $          86,667
Brandt Snedeker


 $      288,000 Brendon de Jonge


 $          17,360
Adam Scott


 $      258,000 Louis Oosthuizen


 $        864,000
Jason Day


 $        18,827 Michael Thompson


This Week’s Total  $      619,271 This Week’s Total  $        968,027
Season Total  $ 34,439,439 Season Total  $    10,566,336

Yes, my daughter came this [ ] close to registering her second consecutive win this week!

If it weren’t for a pulled pectoral muscle and the subsequent loss of his 4-stroke lead, Oosthuizen would have helped her achieve the near impossible.

Fortunately, Louis is in very good shape and should recover from his maladies soon.  If it had happened to someone like Tim Herron or Kevin Stadler, there’s just no telling.  An injury like a pulled hooter could be a career-ender for a guy with a rack like theirs.

The BMW Championship

One more week; one step closer to the $10 million prize for winning the whole shebang!

This week the PGA Tour Playoffs move on to Chicago, for the BMW Championship.  Cog Hill Golf & Country Club is the place, as it has been ever since the BMW was first played.

Another week where you can apply the horses for courses approach to making your picks (not that it’s helped me a great deal).

Derek’s Picks

Dustin Johnson – I voted Dustin off the island in favour of Jason Day last week. 

Note to self; no more joints and Toblerone bars for breakfast!

This week, I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.  In fact, I’m sticking Johnson on the squad in my #1 position…just so I won’t be tempted by someone else as I wind my way through this list and then bump him off again.

Johnson would have been an excellent pick last week.  Not as good as Rory, but his T4 (-14) finish at the Deutsche Bank was a great showing any way you slice it.

Oh yes, he has also racked up a bit of success on this week’s course too.  Johnson registered the biggest win of his career at this tournament 2 years ago.

Johnson is undoubtedly the hottest player in the Playoffs right now (at least the hottest one without an actual win).  Not only did he tie for 4th last week, but he finished T3rd in the Barclays in the opening Playoff event.

Neglect him at your peril in the 3rd round of the Playoffs this week.  I’m certainly not going to.

Tiger Woods – Damn, it’s hard not to pick him this week!  I really want to, but I just can’t do it.

Woods is coming off a pretty hot, but not-quite-good-enough 3rd place finish at the Deutsche Bank last week.  He was basically in the dust until Louis pulled his hooter and Rory coughed up a few…and managed to finish a mere 2 strokes off the lead.

He also has some serious cred here in Chicago.  Second in 2006.  First in 2007.  First in 2009.  Then Elin chased him into a fire hydrant and wrapped a 9 iron around his teeth.

The teeth are fixed.  The swing seems to be improving.  The head…who the hell knows?  I’m still going to swallow my pride and take him this week.

Cue the inevitable “Derek took Tiger collapse”…

Jim Furyk – To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what motivates Furyk more at this time of the year; winning really big tournaments or getting himself in dream-crushing form in preparation for the Ryder Cup or President’s Cup.

Given that psychopathic Son of Sam look he adopts for the biannual meeting of Euros versus Yanks, or world versus Yanks, I’m leaning most heavily on the latter explanation as his raison d’etre at this time of year.

When we get to this point in the Playoffs, Furyk is an absolute animal.  To put a finer point on it, he’s registered four top 4 finishes in his last 6 goes in this event.  And, keep in mind that one of the two occasions where he didn’t finish in the top 4, was the year right after he won the FedEx Cup…and was suffering from the FedEx Cup Curse.”

Furyk seems to be back in form after “recovering” from his big Playoff win 2 years ago…and appears ready to make another deep run in this year’s playoffs.  After last week’s respectable T13, expect him to do much better this week in Chicago.

Jason Dufner –  I’m not entirely sold on Dufner’s chances this week, but I’m more sold on his chances than I am on the other guys I’ve been kicking back and forth.

Despite last week’s ho-hum-ish T18 finish at the Deutsche Bank, Dufner is riding one of the hot hands in the game right now. 

T7th at the Wyndham, 7th at the WGC Bridgestone, T4 at the US Open, 2nd at Colonial and 1st at The Byron Nelson.  Five top 10s in his last 8 events.  That’s pretty damned good stuff.

I also like his head in an event like this. Dufner has absolutely no pulse or visible metabolism when he’s playing golf…the perfect attributes to have when you’re chasing a $10 million prize.

What the hell…why not?  Dufner is on the squad this week.

And now that I’ve had my extend-ramble, let’s turn things over to daughter in the dart room…

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

Bud Cauley

Kyle Stanley

Ryan Palmer

Seung-Yul Noh

And that’s all for this week folks.  As always, thanks very much for reading and playing along with my silliness.  And thanks a ton to all the characters who have been writing in with their comments these past few weeks.  Comments make my day!

Enjoy the tourney.



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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great article this week Derek!!! But I’m going to have to print out all the “rules” to Frenchies INCIDENTALS betting wagering in order to follow them all. Leave it to Frenchie to come up with something like this!!!!


    • GREAT to hear from you Mark! Yes, our Frenchman is a one-of-a-kind kind of guy…no doubt about it. Given the chance, he’d probably lay you a fiver on whether the sun would come up tomorrow…then give you odds. (And then he’d probably end up ahead on an Incidental)

      This is definitely a list that needs to be printed out and laminated. Even though I’ve been around these Incidentals for years, I was still amazed at how many I’d forgotten about when I started putting them all together for the column. This is not a game for the hard of thinking.

      Thanks very much for reading…and for taking the time to chime in!



  • Another brilliant article Tex. The memories that came flooding back have made my day and I am sharing this piece far and wide.

    Couple things. 1) Why is Mark reading this at 1AM? 2) I can no longer play Incidentals with Pokey. His game is good enough that he can, I swear, purposely miss a green so he can get a short sided chuckle-ferret-birdie. And he will do it all day. I end up with a ten thousand yard stare and start talking to myself.

    • Glad you liked the latest ramble Svenny.

      To everyone else, here’s a little inside info; The “Pokey” that Svenny is referring to is legendary in our group…for his Incidental heroics.

      Without betraying real names, Pokey’s starts with a “J” and he’s developed such an uncanny habit of rattling tee shots and approaches off 16 or 17 trees, only to have them pop back out into the middle of the fairway, that we started calling those shots “J’s” a loooooong time ago, rather than just “Barkys.”

      As the legend grew, so did the Asgaardian-calibre tales of “The J God.”

      I imagine, after reading these rules, there will be a LOT of people walking around their home course this weekend with a similar 10,000-yard stare, wondering how the hell they won their match by 6 strokes and still ended up losing $50. That is, if any actually read this thing.


  • Derek, you cant apply the horses for courses approach this week because they dont play at Cog Hill ….. good picks anyway…

    • Well, don’t I feel McStupid Ted! I’d completely forgotten they were playing Crooked Stick this week, instead of Cog Hill, like the past 5 or whatever years.

      So much for my “expertise” on courses! Can I tell you more about stupid golf gambling schemes???


  • Well at least you know someone is watching you !!! hahahah

    And your gambling bets are too complicated for me…. Just playing the game is more than enough…..

    • Yes…YOU’re the one who is watching Ted; you’re probably 50% of my readership on a good week.

      As far as the wagering goes, trust me; it’s waaaaay too complicated for us clowns too. But it IS fun listening to all the chatter.

  • Rambling as usual, Derek, but a ramble is…. a good round of golf spoiled? Say it ain’t so.
    I’d go once again with D & D’s picks! Ryan Palmer creeping into the mix. I miss the outfit he used to wear.
    And though I’m a big fan of Sneds I think it was his rapid-fire pace of play that did in David Hearn on Monday.

  • I’m sooooo behind on reading your column but I will catch up eventually. I love the comments from the other guys above and as I’ve said before, you are a clever and witty writer and I’m a big fan.
    By the way, if I learn to hit a 200 yard drive, stop lifting my head to watch my shitty shots and get lucky enough to putt below 30 on a consistent and regular basis, could I grab some old ladies I know and follow you guys around? We are always looking for laffs and it sounds like your group could “learn” us some stuff !!!
    Thanks for more giggles you maniac ! and I am envious of your gaggle of guys.

    • Hitting 200 yard drives is definitely NOT a prerequisite to playing in, or near, our group Pat (but it might cost you a few ten-to-oners against Frenchman).

      And remember, those shitty shots are often the key to fleecing your foursome of some rum money by scooping a few wonky Incidentals!

      You and your girls are welcome to follow us around anytime. I can guarantee you it would be the first time our bunch were voluntarily chased by a bunch of women. I can’t guarantee how well it will smell back there though!

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