What’s the worst question you can ask a recreational golfer?

It’s not…Are you buying everybody dinner after the round?

It’s not…Have you cleaned those shoes this decade?

It’s not…Is that your great-grandfather’s sand wedge?

Here it is, and hold your breath…What’s the best shot you’ve ever hit?

Even older golfers, including the ones who’ve been overserved at the 19th Hole, will have explicit memories of this ripe moment in their lives. 

This is like asking…Do you remember your first kiss?

You must have a lot of time on your hands, or you must be exceptionally bored, or both, to ask a golfer about his best shot.

In far too many cases, the answer will roll along something like this…

“Well, you see, it was a warm day for March. The wind was blowing south-southwest at about six miles per hour, gusting to maybe 10 or 11. I had had Wheaties that morning, so I was feeling good. I hit a spectacular drive, right down the middle, on the third hole, a par four. I was 159 yards out, usually a six iron for me, but the pin was in the front and the wind was helping, so I dropped down to a seven. Just to be sure, I picked up a few blades of grass and tossed them into the air. They blew straight in front of me, confirming my thinking. I took a few practice swings, then stepped up to the ball. I concentrated on making a full turn, brought the clubhead down sharply and shot the ball crisply into the air. Might have been the best iron contact I’ve ever made. The ball rose majestically into the air, headed straight toward the pin. It dropped about 10 feet in front, bounced once, then rolled right into the hole. An eagle. Best shot I’ve ever made. I’ve thought about it a lot since that day. If I had hit that six iron, I probably would have been at the back of the green, with little chance even for a par. Easily the best shot I’ve ever made. What else do you want to know about it?”

He takes a breath and is about to resume the story, even without another question to prompt more memories. If you’re quick, you’ve already jumped in your cart and roared away from the scene.

It’s amazing how golfers can have such precise memories about the shot of their lives. The brand of ball used. The number iron. The distance. The apex of the shot. The number of bounces. Which side of the cup the ball rolled into. The other players in the group. The current temperature.

Yet ask them about specifics related to their marriage proposal (the first or the second), the birth of a child (the first or the second or the third) or their wedding song — they might not recall too many details.

Proves the importance of golf.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.