Golf (and other brilliant scams)

6 Apr

The Prince of Nigeria is Loaded

I worked for a stint (my understanding is that stint means 1.5 terrible years) as a bank manager, and I was in charge of customer service.  Most of the time my services consisted of explaining why someone’s account was overdrawn, and defending the bank when people accused us of running a scam to get their money. In all fairness,  what seems like a scam is that everyone at the bank has to complete a lot of training to understand the complicated equations and pecuniary policies of the bank, and customers are not privy to this information. For example the diagram below, which we studied thoroughly in classes provided by the bank, is not given to the bank’s customers:

I’m sure that joke didn’t go over well with some readers (ie everyone who reads this) who, like me, occasionally overdraw their accounts because they accidentally use the wrong card, forget to subtract pre-authorized gas purchases, or just plain don’t have money and really need skyline like I did yesterday.  But is this a scam? Definitely not. Keep in mind that we trust these people enough to take our money in return for a valueless slip of paper.

The other service I provided to customers was protection from the real scams. Ironically the same people who accused the bank of scamming them were usually the ones who came in to cash a check they received from a Prince in Nigeria. The Prince of Nigeria scam is complicated, but long story short he is always asking people via email to send him money for some reason or another, and I happen to know that the Prince of Nigeria is very rich and doesn’t need any more money, so don’t ever send him any (it is not him.) I do occasionally worry that some day the real Prince of Nigeria will need my help and I’m not going to be there for him, but I’m sure he’ll understand.

Winning Without Even Trying

Professional athletes make sports look effortless. While playing basketball when I was younger, I would miss 25 shots in a row and think “Michael Jordan makes this look so easy.” Then I would realize people could be watching me fail, so I would go inside and play NBA Jam instead. I could beat MJ in NBA Jam, effortlessly. Similarly when I was out on the dating scene in college getting rejected by a multitude of women each night I’d think to myself “man Tiger Woods makes this look so easy.” Too soon? 

There are many other skills and feats that experts complete in a seemingly effortless way. The lottery is not one of them. Contests such as the lottery, raffles, and silent auctions work with a pretty simple premise. Participants buy a ticket or write down their name and number, and if their name or ticket is drawn, they win. If a nun from St. Mary of the Many Miraculous Mountains Ministry calls me and says I won the Total Gym exercise equipment from their raffle, and all they need is my social security number and address, I should suspect a scam immediately (unless that is where my grandma goes to church and she’s trying to tell me i need to lose weight by purchasing me a raffle ticket. Sorry grandma, you can tell the sisters from SMMMMM to keep their exercise equipment, fat is the new skinny…And there are poor children somewhere that could learn a lot from watching Chuck Norris help Christie Brinkley do seated bicep curls.)

In an ideal world people would call me and tell me they just put 10,000 dollars in my account, and I wouldn’t even have to send them the 3,000 dollars in “taxes” to get the rest like I do now. But this is the real world and making money takes hard work, just as becoming exceptional(and appearing effortless) in sports takes a lot of practice.

That is, except in golf. Even hard work and practice do not produce effortless golfers. Even the so-called professionals can’t do it well every time. This is because golf, like the Prince of Nigeria, is a scam; One that I have fallen prey to many times. What keeps me coming back? The one good shot I had all day that I convince myself could be perfected and lead me to my first sub-70 score (as well as my first sub-80, sub-90, and sub-100 score). In reality this good shot is tantamount to a wild pitch in baseball, which happens rarely to very good athletes and is considered a fluke. A fluke good shot from a really dismal golfer equals money in the bank for the owner of the golf course.

Another large source of money for golf courses (and a blatant scam) is all the balls they collect from me and other golfers when we sail them into the trees, water hazards, or on the ground 25 feet directly in front of us that we act like we didn’t see and claim went really far, but probably out of play. Then the next time we play their course they sell them back to us in the form of a bucket marked “used balls: 4 for 2$.”  I have done some calculations, and discovered some shocking numbers:

I lost an average of 12 balls per 18 holes last year, which with my 3-ball handicap equals a ball per hole (is that how a handicap works in golf?) Most golf courses have tee times every 10-15 minutes, and assuming the average player is not as bad as me and only loses 1 ball per 2 holes, the result is a staggering 42 billion balls per season (I didn’t really do any calculations, I just made that number up but it’s probably close. I’m as bad at math as I am at golf. Math might be a scam too, I’m looking into it). The point is that golf courses should leave the bucket of OUR balls they found out at the first tee box with a sign that says “Free balls. Thanks for paying us to play something you’re bad at doing.” I bet golf course owners try to sell their neighbor’s kid’s football back to him when it comes into his yard.

I’ve thought about going to the driving range at the course I am playing to buy a bucket of range balls to use on the course, but I am hesitant because I had a traumatic experience when I was younger involving a small bucket and a extra-large bucket coin, so I try to avoid those noisy machines. I always make the excuse that Golf Magazine advertisements tell me the more expensive the ball is, the better chance I have of not losing it. Losing so many golf balls last season (some several times, probably) led me to a Good Idea about how to save some money during this golf season.

Saving Your Balls

I only play a couple of golf courses in my area, so the chances of me finding my own ball at a later date are much better than someone who plays a lot of different courses. As aforementioned, this also increases the likelihood that I’m buying back my own balls from the pro shop. To avoid this I’ve decided to monogram all of my golf balls so that I can pick through the “used ball” bucket and take back my balls for free. I realize I cannot prove that a ball marked JG or even JOHN G will stop the pro shop from calling the police when I take the golf balls back for free. The challenge is to monogram the golf balls in a way that the pro shop will have no question that they are mine. First I bought a ball monogrammer from Goodwill for $2. Then I came up with this list of possible family friendly slogans to delineate my golf balls from the rest. They will also all have my address for people to send me my golf balls when they find them. Just picture it; you’re looking through the woods to find your ball or possibly your driver, and you stumble upon a ball that says:

  1. It’s not John G’s fault, I just suck at being a golf ball
  2. This used to be where the 10th green was
  3. Shhh, I’m hiding from an abusive relationship
  4. I just rolled through dog poop
  5. In my past life I was a football
  6. You, me, a six-pack, a garden hose, what do you say?
  7. I was nominated for best supporting actor in the movie “Bagger Vance”
  8. I’ll tell you where your ball went for 5$
  9. Finding one ball won’t make up for the fortune you’ve already spent today

All of these options seemed like Good Ideas, but then I realized that there might be some asinine rule that gives you a two-stroke penalty for having a ball with more than 4 words on it (actually I figured out that using the ball monogrammer was extremely hard and now I understand why someone gave it to Goodwill. Apparently the smiling golfer on the front of the ball monogrammer didn’t try to use it at all.)After taking a break due to increasing frustration at my complete lack of fine motor skills, I decided I couldn’t abandon such a Good Idea, so I thought to myself “how can I gain the most with the least amount of effort?” That is when I realized the answer was right in front of me all along, I just didn’t see it. Below is what all of my golf balls will look like this season:

You Won, Send $ (the address is on back) “You Won, Send $”

If the people running scams have taught us anything, it is that working too hard on a scam defeats the purpose: if you’re going to spend more than an hour on it you might as well just get a legitimate job, say as a bank manager. I’ve tried that route so these golf balls are my attempt at hitting it rich. Now I’ll just have to lose them on the course, which obviously shouldn’t be too hard either.

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2 Responses to “Golf (and other brilliant scams)”

  1. john g April 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    I was going to say that maybe a hunter could find your ball, but then i realized hunters shouldn’t be walking around golf courses (and a lot of hunters can’t read either).

    Regarding your issue with math, I found a loophole you could use to get Xavier to strike your B- from the record. St. Augustine, the greatest forefather of the Catholic church, said it himself: “The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.”

    Take that, math!
    John G

  2. Matt G April 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Let me know if you find out that math is a scam. I will call Xavier and have them remove that B- so that it will raise my GPA closer to that 4.0 I was shooting for.

    By the way, I am averaging 12 balls too per 18 holes so your 42 billion figure might not be far off.

    One point, I would never waste my time on monograming my balls. When I loose them it is generally 100 yards into the deep woods and deer cant read anyway…

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