Looking for a few laughs

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At the time, I thought it was hilarious. I told it to nearly everyone I knew--and earned a lot of blank stares for my trouble. But I did get a few smiles here and there, and a genuine chuckle from my dad. Forty years later, it occurs to me that earning that laugh from my father is perhaps what launched me on a lifetime fof golf and comedy. Lately, it seems as if people don't tell jokes much anymore. Perhaps we're all working too hard.

Or perhaps so much of what's going on in the world just isn't funny. When was the last time you heard a new golf joke? Is the golf joke dead? I intended to find out: I embarked upon a quest to track down the world's best ones. It seemed like the perfect way to unite my parallel obsessions. I've played golf most of my life, and I've told countless jokes in comedy clubs and at golf tournaments, where I sometimes emceed for the dean of comedy himself, Bob Hope. Hope had a database of more than 85, s of jokes he'd heard or told during his nine decades in show business.

I don't know how many were golf-related, but there might be more jokes about this game than about any other subject. The tradition of telling jokes while waiting to hit a shot is as old as the game itself. The very first golf joke probably involved a Scotsman sculling a feathery with his baffy and knocking some poor sheep senseless. Growing up in small-town Texas, I found the best jokes were always told by the most colorful characters.

Once I caddied in a group with a hustler, a preacher and a rancher sporting cowboy boots with golf spikes, who was the first of many over the years to tell me this classic:. The ball soars over a fence and onto a highway, where it hits a car, which promptly crashes into a tree. The stunned golfer rushes into the golf shop and shouts, "Help! I just hit a terrible slice off the first tee and hit a car and it crashed.

What should I do? Like any joke, these wear a little thin after 30 or 40 tellings--or hearings. That's why I figured I'd better find some new material, the real stuff, the kind of jokes failed-comics-turned-caddies find lost in the woods and sell in back alleys for five bucks a dozen. To score jokes like that, I'd have to get my hands dirty, to search out the funniest golfers no matter where they might be: Hawaii, Pebble Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Springs.

But hold on a minute while I find out if I want to. Like any knight in search of virgin humor, I began by seeking the advice of my elders, which in this case meant the members of the Champions Tour. On the Big Island of Hawaii, with the sun shining on the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea, I found the guys warming up for a new season.

Lining the practice tee, 30 of America's finest senior golfers were hitting balls practically out of sight. I could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of all the jokes they'd heard and told in their 30 lifetimes of golf. Alas, I soon discovered that not everyone on tour is funny. Working my way down the practice tee, I explained the nature of my quest and was greeted by the same kind of blank stares I'd earned so many years ago with that first golf joke. Bruce Lietzke's caddie, Brian Lietzke, just shook his head when I asked if Bruce had the mettle to crack us all up.

At the next station, Dana Quigley, or DQ as they call him, had my first real lead. At the end of the line, Dougherty's bushy eyebrows furrowed down on his doughy face when I told him DQ and others had singled him out as a one-man standup. And with that I learned the first valuable lesson of my quest: Dougherty is like most people who are funny--his humor doesn't come from telling jokes. He's just I headed for the beachside bar, ordered a tall, cool beverage and pondered how in the heck I was going to find the very best jokes about golf when no one seemed to know any.

An hour later, I heard someone call my name and turned to see Tom Kite waving me over. A friend from back home in Austin, Kite invited me to experience first-hand the cushy life of a tour pro. All around us a lavish buffet had been set for the pros and their pro-am partners: jumbo shrimp, crab, roast beef and half a mile of desserts. I sat between Kite and George Archer, who had won the event a couple of years before. Because Archer is also too tall for the game, he was one of my childhood heroes, though I never expected him to have a sense of humor.

But as we sat beneath the stars, Archer surprised me with the following tale of marital bliss:. Even Archer's wife laughed, but I'm not sure whether that was because of the strength of the joke or their marriage. Not to be outdone, Kite launched into a dead-on impersonation of Sam Snead telling his famous pussy-willow joke, which involves Mother Nature, who is furious at a golfer whose wild swings have destroyed her precious buttercups.

This is a family magazine, so we can't repeat the joke here, but it's sure to be somewhere online--or in one of those 16 golf-joke books. As if to prove that laughter really is the best medicine, Kite went out the next morning and shot an opening-round He would win the tournament by six strokes.

In search of Kite after that round, I convinced the locker-room guard that I really did belong inside, and soon found myself in the company of one of the best tellers of golf's tall tales, Lee Trevino. It was Trevino, you will remember, who tossed a rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus before the playoff for the U. Open of course, Trevino won. After missing a relatively easy eagle putt with which I'd hoped to impress Trevino, I resorted to some cheap schtick and began juggling my driver, a tee and a ball.

When I found Trevino holding court in the locker room, he remembered that round. Trevino is one of those rare souls who carries the whole bag of golf comedy: one-liners, jokes, stories. He's like the Energizer Bunny of golf humor--he just keeps going and going, leading the laughs, as they say in the business, by cracking up at his own lines:. Trevino's telling of this clunker illustrated another truth about humor: What you do with the material--the way you tell it--is always more important than the material itself. Trevino could read the Rules of Golf and make them funny.

His laugh has hardly faded before he's launching into a story about an aging golfer on his deathbed:. He remembers when he was first married, how he came home from the course one day to the most wonderful chocolate-chip cookies. It'd been years since his wife baked them for him, but as he lay there, gasping for each breath, he was sure he could smell those cookies. Crawling out of bed, he dragged himself down the stairs and into the kitchen where he finds--oh, joy!

Willie had just published a book called, The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes, which begins with the following: "They say writing the first line of a book is the hardest part. Thank God that's over. One day the wife says, "Honey, to celebrate five decades of golf and marriage, let's start off with a clean slate and confess all our past wrongs.

Well, I had an affair with her. Finally, one guy offers to speed things up and walks down the fairway to tell the women to get a move on. But halfway to the women, he turns around and comes back to his buddy. But after going halfway down the fairway toward the women, he, too, stops. He comes back and says to his buddy: "Small world, isn't it? I've never been so humiliated!

We played golf this morning, but on the way back to town we stopped at a strip t. I met one of the dancers, and she was so beautiful, and one thing led to another, so I took her to a hotel room for several hours of wild passion. Then I had a quick shower and rushed straight home. A few years ago, I made the pilgrimage to St. Andrews with my wife and 6-month-old baby in tow, plus my golf buddy David Wood, at the time a fellow comedian. When David and I weren't playing golf, we were often sitting in pubs telling golf jokes.

To make matters worse, it turned out that babies are not allowed in Scottish pubs, so my wife and daughter were usually on their own. One night when I returned late to the hotel, my wife told me the following joke:. But it's cold and raining, so halfway to the club, he gives up and returns home, where he takes off his clothes, climbs back into bed and snuggles up against his wife.

Taking her hint, I bowed out of the game the next day, dropping David at Carnoustie while we headed off to look at a load of moldy castles. I was thinking about Carnoustie all day and couldn't help but tell my wife the joke about a guy who makes a hole-in-one. The guy is a little bummed about that, so for his second wish he asks to be the world's richest man. One wish left.

Before I stood down from the world of standup comedy, I spent a of years in Los Angeles, where the best perk was to play in celebrity pro-ams in exchange for emceeing an evening show. Of course, the downside of that was whenever I'd show up on the first tee, the other guys in my foursome would ask, "Which celebrity do you think we'll get? Fields, Bob Hope and other stars. And then the next day, you go out and for no reason at all you really stink. Each year we watched Mr. Hope grow more and more frail, but whenever I introduced him, he'd transform instantly into the comic pro who never met an audience he didn't like.

Once he was on stage, the old magic was there. That sounded pretty good until we got to the green, and he picked up my ball and threw it into the pond.

Looking for a few laughs

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