The Allegory of a Grifter

When I was in high school, I played in the district golf tournament against another player from our rival school. It was probably one of the more bizarre experiences of my life. I was a decent golfer in high school depending on who you ask. However, I never played well in tournaments and this experience is probably one reason why.

This player dribbled it about ten feet off the tie. Then he dribbled his second shot about another twenty feet. He followed that up with hooking it out of bounds (stroke penalty and you have to replay it from the spot) he proceeded to dribble it a few more times up the fairway. He chipped on and tw0 putted for what I counted as a ten.

I asked him what he got and he said a five. We proceeded to “negotiate” on his score until we settled on an eight. It went this way for the next seventeen holes. Every hole was a negotiation. I can’t remember his exact final score, but I think the card finally ended up saying 132. I could be off a few strokes here and there. Needless to say, my score was nowhere near that bad.

However, it wasn’t one of my better rounds. Those that play golf know that you usually play better with people that are close to your ability. It gives you something to shoot for, but it also doesn’t drain on you having to wait several minutes for them to figure out what in the hell they are doing. Waiting wreaks all kinds of havoc with your concentration and rhythm. When you add in the added benefit of “negotiation” you can see how it might make for an unpleasant afternoon.

The upshot is that I technically won. I beat him by at least 40 strokes that day according to what the cards said and probably closer to 50 or 60 if we went according to reality. The strategy was breathtaking. Instead of shaving a stroke here or there he went for several at a time. You finally end up giving him a stroke or two per hole because the whole experience is just too exhausting.

All reports are that the president plays golf the same way. He technically hovers in the mid 70s, but if you took away the mulligans, foot wedges, blatant misdirection, and arithmetic issues he probably would settle somewhere in the 80s. According to sources, on one occasion he hit it in the water and then told his playing partners that one of their balls on the green was actually his. He browbeat them until they admitted that they must have been mistaken when they clearly saw their own ball going on the green.

This whole affair has been an allegory for the past fifty years of his life and the last five years of our lives. He cheats and lies in such blatant ways and so often that you spend so much of your time combatting those lies. You spend so much time correcting them. You spend so much time trying to convince your friends and family of the obvious lies.

You are able to correct the record a majority of the time, but the tsunami of crap is so pervasive that you can’t get to all of it. Some of it sneaks through. Some of the lies sneak through. Some of the blatant crimes sneak through. The mendacity and overt avarice sneaks through. Meanwhile, you’ve now spent all of your time debunking and fact checking. You’re exhausted and you’ve gotten nothing done.

Maybe I would have shot five strokes better had I not had to deal with the garbage I dealt with that day. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a lick better. What I do know is that I wouldn’t have been as miserable. I played in other tournaments with players from the same school that was a blast. Golf doesn’t have to be a sport where you scratch and claw to conceal every stroke. It’s usually a competition with yourself to see how good you can do.

Most sports are actually that way. You don’t see marathon runners tripping each other near the finish line or gymnasts tackle their opponents as the vault off the balance beam. Unless you’re a Harding you don’t whack the other figure skater in the knee. You do the best you can and feel good or bad based on your own performance and not as it compares to anyone else.

Politics used to be much the same way. Those in the game certainly always play it rougher than those watching from afar. Nobody lets the other side win without doing everything legally to stop it. Yet, there’s the rub. In every sport there are rules and the best players know how to win within those rules. Yet, the grifter in chief has figured out a way around that.

He’s done it nearly his whole life. He doesn’t follow any of the rules and waits for you to stop him. He knows full well that you will overlook something or be too exhausted to fight him on every flank. That gives him a tiny advantage. The sad thing is that he’s still lost most of them time. He’s just so wrapped up in the sport of the grift that he hasn’t realized it. Like my one time opponent, he managed to shave strokes off his score, but he still lost by a ton. Maybe in a couple of months we can settle into a new game where we won’t have to constantly be on the look out for cheating.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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