Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Golf [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Updated: February 5, 11:24 AM ET
Don't act like you've been there

By Rick Reilly
ESPN.com

Two Down was watching the Golf Channel on the ancient Magnavox in the clubhouse at Ponky Municipal Golf Links and Deli, known near and far as America's worst golf course.

Kevin Stadler had just won the Waste Management Phoenix Open, thanks to a missed 5-foot putt by Bubba Watson on the 72nd hole. It was the first PGA Tour win of his life -- a 13-year wait -- and it seemed to be annoying the eyebrows off of Two Down.

"My God, look at this guy!" he was snarling in our bomb-shelter-motif clubhouse, where our homely golf group, The Chops, hangs out.

Kevin Stadler
Kevin Stadler thanked everyone according to normal golf decorum.

"I mean look how boring and polite he is! Here the guy does something he's been trying to do ONCE his whole life, and all he does is take off his hat and shake Watson's hand!"

"And your point is?" I asked.

"My point is?" Two Down said. "My point is, if I'd just won $1.1 million zops in a PGA Goddang Tour event, forget about my first win in 239 tries, I'd go absolutely electro-shock, three-alarm, bat-guano nuts! I'd pull up my shirt, grab my big ol' stomach and go, 'Manage this waist, chumps!"

"Excuse me?"

"I'd throw the old lady scorekeeper into the lake and dive in after her! I'd do the Dougie with the sign boy! I'd take my 3-iron and knight my caddy like I was the queen!"

He gestured back disgustedly at Stadler, who was now making his trophy speech.

"He's all, 'I certainly want to thank the greens committee. The bunkers were beautifully and thoughtfully raked all week."

I could tell it was upsetting him, so, naturally, I tried to make it worse.

"Golf decorum vexes you?"

"Hell, yes!!!" Two Down yelled. "Why can't golfers act like they do in other sports? If this was the NFL, he'd be twerking in front of the other team's bench! You think Richard Sherman acted like this after he won the Super Bowl Sunday night? You think he just took off his helmet and shook the Broncos' hands and said, 'Well played, sir'? No! He probably went up to Peyton Manning and yelled, 'Bro, was that some kinda JOKE?'"

The other Chops put their gin hands down.

"You're right!" The Human Stain chimed in. "In tennis, Rafa Nadal wins and practically falls dead where he stands, like he just took an arrow in the chest! But golfers act all sheepish, like they just sat in somebody's soup."

Kevin Stadler
Kevin Stadler uses a long putter that might be banned soon by the PGA Tour.

"Totally!" Thud announced. "If I'd just won my first ever ticket to the Masters, and it meant I was going to finally play in a Masters with my dad (1982 Masters winner Craig Stadler), I'd pick up the flagstick and fire it like a Tommy gun at the crowd. I'd make my caddy give me a piggy back ride and whip him like a jockey on a horse."

The subject was taking my mind off the $40 I'd just lost trying to chip into the deep fryer, so I jumped in with both cleats.

"You're right," I said. "If I just beat 144 guys over four days, and I'd never done it in my whole life? I'd wallow in it. I'd extend my hand to Bubba, yank it back and yell, 'Psyche!' When the guy in the bad plaid jacket came out with the winner's check, I'd snatch his toupee off and fling it like a Frisbee."

"I know!" said The Little Ball of Hate. "And at my speech, I'd start out with, 'I'd really just like to thank ... my sweet BUTT for being so good! Nobody's hittin' these shots but me, you fools!' I can make these Pings play Beethoven, bitches!"

Now everybody was up, outraged at Stadler's fine manners.

"And that night?" said Resource. "I'd go to Bubba's hotel room at 3 in the morning and go, 'Look, I just wanted to say I feel terrible that ... you're such a gag artist!' Then I'd hold up the trophy, polish it on my butt, hold it up to his face and go, 'Look how shiny it is! What do you see in there? A loser!!! Don't worry, though. I hear the food's great on the Fuzion tour!"

"If I was Stadler?" I said. "And I knew they were going to ban my long putter soon, and I knew that's the only putter I'd ever used as a pro, I'd hire six guys to carry me over to commissioner Tim Finchem's table that night. I'd soak myself in Champagne and have my buddies bowl me down the lane. I'd tweet crap at Phil Mickelson all night. 'What Would Phil Do? Finish 13 strokes behind me! #Loser!'"

And that's about when we realized Dannie, our curvaceous head pro, had been listening the whole time from behind the dryer.

"Right," she said, arms folded. "And then nobody on Tour would ever talk to you again. And you'd lose all your endorsements. And your wife would divorce you. And you'd start dating some sleazy stripper, and you'd end up broke. And you'd end up hanging around this dump with a bunch of no-job-having big-talking deadbeats like you guys."

We all sat there in silent shame until Two Down finally raised half an eyebrow.

"Wait. We could date strippers?"