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Par for the course

By Kaare Askildt Formerly known as Farmer in Training

Par for the course.

This is a phrase taken from the game of golf. Outside of the game of golf it is usually used to describe the expected or anticipated outcome of a situation or event, or something that is normal or common. I’ll try to make sure that I don’t misuse this phrase.

The earliest history of a game resembling golf was recorded in China in 1368. In later years various European countries also had similar games. Someone suggested that the name of the sport of golf was created as an acronym for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden.” However, that is not true. It appears that the current name, golf, comes from the Scottish goulf (also gowf), a verb meaning "to strike or cuff." Golf became a popular sport in Scotland during the 15th century, and golf courses varied in size from 25 to 18 holes, depending on the topography. It has been inferred that the board of governors at St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland voted to limit the standard courses to 18 holes, as a bottle of Scotch whiskey at that time contained 18 drams, one for each hole. Sadly, this is not true. It was the Scottish economical (read cheap) mindset that prevailed. St. Andrews Golf Course was reduced to 18 holes as it was cheaper to maintain! Par at any golf course is established as the average strokes required on each green to put the darn ball in the bloody hole!

A pretty pathetic golfer was getting frustrated with his lousy game and began blaming his mistakes on his experienced caddie. As the round came to an end, the golfer said, "You have to be the worst caddie in the whole wide world."

To which the caddie replied, "I don't think so, sir. That would be too much of a coincidence."

And that is indeed par for the course!

I guess that if applied to baseball par for the course would be nine innings, if the game is tied then it goes to extra innings. It is believed that baseball has evolved from the British game of rounders, and is a cousin to cricket in that it also involves two teams that alternate on defense and offense and involve throwing a ball to a hitter who attempts to "bat" it away and run safely to a base. The first documentation of baseball is in 1838, but there are references to a game of baseball going back to the late 1700s.

My first introduction to baseball (softball) was back in Norway in the early 60s. A contingent of US military service men was stationed just outside of Oslo, and they used our local soccer field for their baseball games. My twin brother and I were mesmerized by the players. One in particular demanded our attention; he was standing in the outfield wearing a bomber jacket and tan pants with big pockets. He had a baseball glove on one hand and a bottle of beer in the other, as well as unopened bottles of beer in each pocket of his jacket and pants. He would stand out there drinking beer and chant: “Home baby, home boy, home baby, home boy….” Is that par for the course?

The first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York baseball club called the Knickerbockers by Alexander Joy Cartwright, commonly known as "the father of baseball." Cartwright laid out rules for playing the game for the first time, and made one important change. No longer could an out be recorded by "plugging" a runner (hitting him with the ball). The rules required fielders to tag or force the runner, which is still the rule today. Par for the course!

Ole looked at Lars and said: “I don't understand baseball at all, do you?”

Lars smiled and said: “You don't have to understand it. Everything is decided by a man they call a vampire.”

Svenn looked at Knut and asked: “Why did the coach kick Cinderella off the baseball team?”

“Because she ran away from the ball,” answered Knut.

Would that be par for the course?

            The phrase has sometimes been used by the commentators in the game of hockey, especially when the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the ice. They might be good skaters and score some goals to win a few games, but have still to make the playoffs. And the announcer every year suggests that missing the playoffs is par for the course!

A first grade teacher explained to her class that she is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. She asked her students to raise their hands if they were Maple Leafs fans as well. Not really knowing what a Maple Leafs fan is, but wanting to be like their teacher, hands exploded into the air. There was, however, one exception. A girl named Mary had not gone along with the rest of the class. The teacher asked her why she had decided to be different. "Because I'm not a Maple Leafs fan."

"Then," asked the teacher, "What are you?"

"Why I'm proud to be a Calgary Flames fan," boasted the little girl. The teacher became a little perturbed, her face turned slightly red. She asked Mary why she is a Calgary Flames fan.

"Well, My Dad and Mom are Calgary Flames fans, and I'm a Calgary Flames fan, too!"

"That's no reason," said the teacher loudly. "What if your mom was a moron and your dad was a moron, what would you be then?"

Mary paused, and then she smiled and said: "Then I'd be a Maple Leafs fan."

Is this par for the course?

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