101 Golf Secrets

Golf Secrets 52 - 54: Social

Golf Digest

The "rules" in connoisseurship are endless, especially in terms of which wines should be paired with particular entrees, but one maxim to go with when ordering is that your palate is always right. I drink whatever wine I have a desire for at that moment, even if it's a dry Chardonnay with a thick steak from the grill.

I first started to appreciate good wine when I began playing professionally in Europe in the '70s. Throughout my career my wife, Laura, and I tended to sample the wine in whatever region I was playing. My travels have taken me to some amazing vineyards in South Africa, Spain, France, Canada, California and, of course, my native Australia. Wide-ranging experimentation is the best way to develop your palate. After all, the human palate can change significantly with age and experience.

Wine is a complex harmony of textures, flavors and smells, and it's only after years of experimentation that I have come to understand which characteristics I enjoy most. Don't feel encumbered by the rules, unless of course you're talking about the game of golf! Here are a few tips:

  • Don't smell the cork, especially if it's synthetic. The only thing you can learn from the cork is if the bottle has been stored properly, in which case the cork bottom will be moist with wine.
  • Hold the stem of the glass and swirl the wine gently. This oxygenates the wine to release the flavors more fully.
  • If you're out with a large party, order two or more bottles and try each one with a taste of your dish to see which combination works best.


Like a near-death experience or one's own wedding, joining a country club will cause your life to pass before your eyes. Yes it will. All sorts of scenarios, mostly excruciating, will suggest themselves: A club member who also attended Oberlin during your funny-brownie days gets wind of your application. Your FBI record, sporting a few innocent anti-war felonies, is dislodged by a vigilant membership committee. The pro at Effervescent National learns of your Kerry campaign work and can't wait to blab. Remember the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode in which Larry David picks up a hooker so he can use the HOV lane on his way to a Dodgers game, and at the game he and his guest encounter the membership committee of the exclusive club to which he's applied? That kind of thing.

Be calm. Take a deep breath and rest assured that no matter how it turns out, the membership of the club comprises human beings, some possessing character flaws and faults that would make yours seem quaint by comparison. My experience has been that the more colorful the faults, the more interesting the membership. At any rate, you can't do much about your broken character now, and apologizing all over yourself is bad form. You can always join a club that's just interested in your money, if you have some.

The key: Connect with a sponsor—one in good standing at the club, preferably—who'll endure the paperwork, cocktail hours and backroom reconnoitering that's part of the process. This person is your captain. Follow and do not question. Be patient. In the meantime, refrain from road rage, soccer sideline fights, enforcing the 10-Items-or-Less lane and, yes, soliciting hookers. 


The best time to obtain an autograph from Tiger Woods is after practice rounds. Stand near the gallery ropes that run from the 18th green to the practice range and the clubhouse. He will often pause after playing and practicing, usually signing as he walks. Woods loves kids and tries to accommodate as many as he can. He doesn't like to be pushed or have objects shoved in his face, so get close to the ropes and use proper etiquette. He also hates it when young kids serve as runners to collect autographs for adults to sell, and he's very good at spotting them.

It doesn't hurt to stand out. Consider wearing colorful clothing or a Tiger costume to get his attention. He gets a kick out of seeing people dress up and will often make a point of signing for them. Sometimes, Tiger will sign autographs after he has finished playing tournament rounds. The three keys: patience, persistence and position. Don't scream his name, let him make eye contact with you and be ready to walk as he signs. Eventually, your efforts will be rewarded.


Images from top: Ismael Roldan; Jonathan Carlson