Robert Garrigus, as you might have heard, said the other day that he and plenty other players smoked marijuana during rounds on the Nationwide Tour early last decade. You got the impression contestants perhaps were handed scorecard, pencil and papers on the first tee.
Full disclosure: I like Garrigus because, well, there’s a lot to like. He hits a golf ball four miles, uses a putter from Toys R Us, smiles while playing and is nice to people. On top of all that, there’s the refreshing candor of someone who says he was an “idiot” then, back when he was Ganja Garrigus, but is happily reformed now.
According to his latest disclosure, players popped into portable toilets to take drags off joints. Apparently an option was: Smoke or get off the pot.
Now, I wasn’t there. So I’ll take Garrigus’ word for it.
As for a complete picture, I can only imagine . . .
Back then on the Nickel Bag Tour, they didn’t refer to the stuff in their bags as equipment. They called it “paraphernalia.”
Supposedly the most common reason for player withdrawal was “munchies.”
That makes some sense, considering bags of Cheetos and Doritos were strewn all over the locker room, outnumbering by 10-1 the bottles of vitamin water.
One year at the season-ending tournament, commissioner Tim Finchem gave 15 graduates PGA Tour cards and tickets to the next Bong Rip concert.
Phrases, as you might imagine, were different. Ground under repair was “grass under repair.” Rainy, wet days brought “lift, clean and toke.”
If a player hit his ball onto hybrid sinsemilla, he didn’t get a drop. He got a whiff.
Yes, your intuition is correct. Carl Spackler served as tour agronomist. At times he also was the chief supplier, particularly on weeks caddiemaster Cheech Marin was on vacation.
Cheech also manned the old-time range-ball machine on the practice area. So he always walked around with a pocket full of coins designed for the machine. And almost every day he had this rote exchange with a caddie named Reefer Ralph:
Reefer Ralph: “Tokin’?! Who isn’t?”
Tournaments had interesting names as well. Maui Wowie Invitational. Acapulco Gold Trophy. Mary Jane Open.
The tour didn’t have majors or WGCs or FedEx Cup playoffs or invitationals. But the Maui Wowie, Acapulco Gold, Mary Jane and 10 other similar events were showcased on national television as the “Baker’s Dozen.”
The top 20 point-getters in the series qualified for the year-end Stoner Shootout. Players coveted a spot in the Stoner Shootout mainly because it was held annually in Amsterdam.
The winner after that fun-filled week received the coveted Cannabis Cup.
Galleries at those tournaments and others couldn’t resist. Someone would smash a drive and a spectator would yell, “Hey, bro, you really smoked that one!” Other fans would scream, “Get as high on the leaderboard as you can!”
One year at the Panama Red Classic, the winner shot a remarkable 58 in the final round. Asked how he did so, he winked and said, “Smoke and mirrors, dude.”
That night, at the Doobie Brothers concert on site, he was overheard telling his caddie, “Hey, Hashish Harry, I have no idea how I shot 58. All I know is I kept hitting the middle ball.”
On the flip side, a player once shot 61 but was disqualified because he signed an incorrect scorecard. His classic quote, reminding some of Roberto De Vicenzo, was, “What a dope I am.”
Once near a swampy area that brought out bugs, a player called over a rules official and said, “My ball came to rest against a roach.” Before the official could rule, a fellow player butted in and said, “I believe that’s mine. Was the clip still on it?”
In an effort to attract better fields, officials finally caved and added an incentive clause: “Any competitor who hits his ball into a weed patch can smoke his weed of choice but at the expense of a one-stroke penalty.” The week that regulation went into effect, 80 percent of the field failed to break 100.
Awhile later, someone hit his ball into a group of mushrooms, and before he could even ask, a rules official said, “Drop, no. Smoke, yes.”
Finchem once passed by a player and merely said, “Hi.” According to an observer, the player smiled and replied, “Not yet, commish, but I’m working on it.”
One particular player amended an old Gary Player line and used it every time someone asked what he thought of a golf course. “One of the best joints of its kind,” he’d say.
Then there’s the legend of a guy who shot a record 253 about a decade ago and was never heard from again. A recent story about the man and his feat carried a most appropriate headline.
“One-hit wonder,” it read.
With all that stuff going on, little wonder Finchem always cringed when he’d hear a player simply ask, “Gotta light?”