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Publications

STRATEGIES Figuring Your Spousal Quid Pro Quo

By JEFF WHITTLE |

Golf? Great game. Talk to golfers, and chances are they’ll tell you they love the game and play every chance they get. For many, that means….

Well, never.

Oh, they can take the frustration of missing a tap-in birdie putt or shanking a drive out of bounds after a press on the 18th tee. It isn’t the game itself that’s the problem-it’s the cost.

Not the cost of golf, per se. It isn’t the price of clubs or shoes or the funny clothes or the greens fees or even the beer. No, those are reasonable and predictable costs of the game, costs one thoughtfully contemplates when replacing “son’s brain surgery” with “golf1 in the family budget. None of these expenses is a surprise. But there’s one cost you may not expect, one item that will break you faster than Payne Stewart can blow a lead at the Nelson.

The cost of The Deal.

Go ahead, laugh. Get that new set of irons and see what it costs you. Think it’s just the price of the clubs? Guess again. A recently conducted survey revealed an eerily direct correlation between the number of irons and the number of mink coats sold in America. This is not a coincidence. It is The Deal, a time-worn set of rules regarding spousal payback- the hidden costs a golfer pays to pacify a non-golfing spouse.

The Deal seems fair enough at its most basic level. First, most wives will tolerate an occasional Saturday morning golf excursion as long as you don’t wake her up when you leave to play and as long as-make no mistake-you know that you’ll hear about it. Plenty. Because you spent a few hours doing something pointless like chasing around a little white ball with a stick, your wife will make sure that you know it was quite the sacrifice for her to give you up for those few hours when you could have been doing something more productive, like assuring her that each of 8,000 fabric swatches being considered for recovering the couch is, in fact, “cute.”

Most golfers like to play more than an occasional round, though, so The Deal has evolved to cover myriad situational variables. For instance, you can still leave to play golf even if you accidentally wake up your wife on the way out. Under these circumstances, The Deal requires that you leave only after you have sufficiently confessed how selfish and inconsiderate you are. This is tricky terrain because most golfers seem to underestimate how much confession is required to qualify as “adequate.” These underestimations can be costly and usually result in “constructive criticism” that doesn’t really make for much of a pre-round pep talk.

Costs of The Deal increase in direct proportion to what you spend on your golf game. New accessories, for example, are expensive. Say you’ve figured out that all you need to cure that duck hook you’ve had since junior high is the new Megamon-sterhead Bulletproof Desert Shield Driver, and you’ve budgeted carefully all year to ensure you can afford it. Think again. Perhaps you have socked away $500, but chances are you’ve overlooked the additional $ 1,000 The Deal compels you to shell out for that deluxe riding vacuum cleaner your wife’s been eyeing.

The Deal completely prohibits certain activities. Don’t suggest, for example, that the day your wife’s parents arrive in town would be a heck of a day to go play a quick nine. Wives see little humor in this suggestion, and reports from Deal veterans indicate that a wife will pretty much turn off her voice governor altogether if she ever gets wind that you were serious when you suggested that little piece of self-centered idiocy. Same is true for trying to sneak in a round while your wife is in labor. Sure, most babies stay put for several hours after Mom’s water breaks, but scientifically verified facts like that cany little weight in the onesided conversations prompted by such ill-scheduled tee times. The Deal is a complicated and mysterious beast, fraught with uncertainty and frustration for the uninitiated. Most couples massage its terms to fit their circumstances, but you might want to consider these general guidelines (see chart) when negotiating your individual terms. And remember-just like golf, practice makes perfect. And just like golf, no matter how well you learn The Deal, you’ll foul it up when you least expect it.

WHEN GOLFER WANTS



To play his annual round



Two rounds a year



A round per month



A weekly round



A daily round



A new putter



A new set of woods



A new set of irons



A new set of dubs (to replace an antiquated set)



A new set of clubs (to replace the set you broke in anger)



Membership at a country club



Membership at a golf-only club



Membership at men’s-only club



Weekend golf vacation



Week-long golf vacation



Golf vacation without wife



Golf lessons



Golf art for living room

COLFER SHOULD EXPECT

No problem

A little grief, but no real problem

Take wife to dinner

Take wife on vacation

Wife takes you to court

Buy wife new earrings

Buy wife a new outfit

Buy wife a new watch

Buy wife new furniture

Buy wife a new ring

Buy new carpet for house

Buy wife a new car

Buy wife’s boyfriend a new car

Send wife to day spa

Send wife to out-of-town spa

Buy spa

Buy wife weekly manicures

For hell to freeze over

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