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No, You Couldn’t Beat A Pro Golfer At Minigolf

OSKALOOSA, IOWA - JANUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang plays mini-golf after holding a town hall meeting at Penn Central Mall January 25, 2020 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. While three of the top-polling Democratic presidential candidates are U.S. Senators and must be in Washington for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, millionaire businessman Yang continues to campaign across Iowa ahead of its all-important caucuses scheduled for February 03. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about third kids, modern line etiquette, proselytizing nannies, and more.

Your letters:

Paul:

How much better (if at all) would a PGA pro be at mini golf than your average schmo, or your average schmo’s 11 year-old kid? I would think the schmo would have a great shot at beating the pro when you consider that the pro has most likely spent his or her entire life putting on pristine, flawless greens. All those years of training on perfectly manicured putting surfaces has allowed the pro to read the slopes and angles to a level of precision achieved only by particle physicists. But put that pro on a shitty Astroturf mini golf course, with uneven boards and exposed nails and staples, and I think the odds begin to even out pretty quickly. Brooks Koepka vs. 11 year-old Timmy Schlabotnick at Timmy’s home course at the local Playland that he’s been playing since he was 5 years old. Who you got?

Koepka would annihilate Timmy. Koepka would take little Timmy, tape him to a miniature windmill, jack the RPM up to 50,000, and watch Timmy go flying to Saturn. It wouldn’t be close.

The odds don’t even out on a minigolf course. I just watched the British Open and everyone on Sunday’s leaderboard was draining putts that had to cross a 7-11 hot dog roller to make it to the pin. It’s easy to watch the professionals play normal golf with such apparent ease and be like, “Yeah well let’s see how good these guys are if they have to face ME at the Pirate Golf Adventure in Manasquan!” But these guys are good. I know that’s an old PGA slogan, but it’s as accurate a brand slogan as you’ll ever encounter. We’re talking about golfers who spend countless hours working on their short game and playing practice rounds to get a feel for every course they play. And those courses range from the pristine to the gravel bunkers where the U.S. Open is normally held. There’s not a shot out there they haven’t been forced to attempt.

And if you think minigolf is challenging, try putting on some of the greens the pros have to navigate. They’re impossible. They’re balder than a porn star from the waist down. If had I landed a ball 30 feet from the pin at Royal St. George’s on Sunday, I would have needed five putts to sink that fucker. Minimum. Thinking you could beat any of them at minigolf is like thinking you could beat Devin Booker on the Pop-a-Shot. Don’t fool yourself. Can’t believe I just made pro golfers sound like the apex of human ability, but there you have it.

Will:

Which is the superior invention: music streaming or video streaming? As a 90’s kid who used to carry books of CDs around, I think it’s clearly music, but can appreciate how nice it is to have almost every movie ever made available at the click of a button.

Yeah but every movie is NOT available at the click of a button. If I wanna watch a movie now, I gotta go through a whole process. I only downloaded JustWatch recently, which makes it a bit easier to figure out where any given movie is streaming. But even that app has blind spots, which means I’m left to finish around for MINUTES at a time. So many precious minutes. Sometimes I have to ask Google TV for the movie, and if I’m lucky, a little chyron pops up that says WATCH NOW because it’s already on Netflix or HBOMax, both of which I subscribe to. More often than not though, that movie is on a service I don’t have that won’t let me rent it à la carte, or it’s on Kanopy (which Google TV doesn’t even remember that I have), or it’s not streaming anywhere at all. Or it’s streaming somewhere fucking weird. Yesterday I watched RocknRolla for free on Tubi. Good movie.

This is better than hauling ass to Blockbuster anytime I want to watch something good, but it’s also not terribly fun when your movie-watching habits require a working knowledge of current licensing fee arrangements. If you read that famous Harper’s essay by Martin Scorsese just for the Marvel burns, you might have missed this passage:

[S]treaming platforms … have come to overtake the moviegoing experience, just as Amazon overtook physical stores. On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema? Curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist,’ a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you.

In other words, streaming movies are so convenient that they essentially wall you off from great movies—especially ones you’ve barely heard of—by compelling you to watch the first piece of shit they offer up on the home menu. I have to keep a list on my phone of movies to watch now, because there’s no way in hell that any of these services will remind me to check out Kubrick’s The Killing the second I log in (I had to rent that one from Youtube).

Streaming music has similar problems, but the good news is that it’s a monopoly. HOORAY MONOPOLIES. The other good thing is that if the Spotify algorithm suggests a band I don’t like, I’ll already hate them in advance, or I’ll only need a minute’s listen to know I hate them for certain (I might miss out on grower albums that way, but very few artists outside of Radiohead are good at pulling off growers). Much quicker process, and much better than trudging to a record store, paying $12 for a shitty cassette, and then realizing that the single was the only decent track on it. I do not regret the advent of streaming music. I don’t know how I lived with analog music. I may as well have been born before fire.

The only problem I have with the streaming music experience is one that I only have myself to blame for. I’m VERY bad about new music. I’ve discovered a couple of songs thanks to Spotify’s recs, but in general I’m almost always listening to songs and bands I’ve already listened to many, many times over. I wear the fuck out of my playlists. They’re entrenching my addiction to “Cold Blood” by Kix and it’s a problem.

Amanda:

Does any professional athlete look more like they’ve committed a hate crime on the streets of Boston than Pat Connaughton?

Oh sure. You’re just looking for white guys with messy stubble, yeah? Pat Connaughton, despite being named Pat Connaughton, is almost too well-groomed for the part. You need an extra layer of scuzz to signal that you’re apt to pull a Wahlberg on the first immigrant packie store clerk you encounter. Pick any white Major League pitcher out of a (filthy) hat. There you go.

Also, I’d like to submit Andy Dalton as a dark horse for the honor. In an alternate universe, the Red Rifle is prepared to roll up on any hapless bystander, anytime.

Sam:

My wife and I have two kids, both daughters, and she’s now talking about having another down the line. She’s one of three, and has always wanted three kids herself. I’m an only child, so having two is already more than I thought I’d ever have. Now I’m just crazy worried about everything that comes with a third kid. She’s 35, I’m 42, and have legit concerns about my ability to live long enough to be a dad for three fucking kids. Based on family history, and my own health issues/history, I’m more than a little terrified about trying for a third. And even if I do live long enough, at some point I’d like to, you know, live a child-free existence again, traveling and doing stuff with my wife. Another wrinkle that may or may not be interesting for you to ruminate on: twins run heavy in my wife’s family. If we go for one more and get two more I might actually light myself on fire. Can you talk a bit about the difference between having two and three? 

I come from a family of five, and my wife and I now head up a family of five. So I’ve been circulating among five-tops my entire life. I’m gonna put aside third baby health considerations for a moment, because those are never predictable. I’m also gonna put aside cost factors, because every kid you have costs 10 MILLION DOLLARS, minimum. Sam already has two, so he’s destined to be broke already. Here now are the practical issues that face any family of five:

  • Cars. You’ll need a minivan, but you already knew that.
  • Beds. Chances are, two of the three kids will be sleeping in the same room together for a long time. You get the Sophie’s Choice between sticking one kid with the baby, or isolating the baby and hearing the older two fight/giggle all night long. I’m very glad my children are no longer babies. 
  • Restaurants. They’re either gonna cram the five of you into a four-top located right by the kitchen door, or they’re not gonna have a table for you at all.
  • Hotels. No hotel has a room for five. You either have to get two rooms, or you have to lie to Expedia, get a single room, rent a cot, and then live like hobos while you’re on vacation. Or, like my family, you just forgo hotels and do Airbnbs for the rest of your life. It’s an easy switch to make, but the process of picking an Airbnb features its own little gauntlet of neuroses. HOW DO I KNOW THIS ONE’S NOT LOCATED AT THE BOTTOM OF A LANDFILL?!
  • Cabs/Ubers. Can four of you squeeze into the backseat of your driver Gary’s Honda Civic? You’re about to find out!
  • Vaccines. My youngest still can’t get vaccinated, which means we’re not completely free yet. Keep that in mind when the Sheep Flu hits our continent in 2029.
  • Groceries. This won’t happen right away, but it’s happening to me now. I come home with $200 worth of groceries. I put them away. An hour later… they’re all gone. These savages will leave a single chip in the bag and then put it back in the drawer. Absolutely disgraceful.  
  • Fights. Two of them will be fighting at any given moment. You’ll never know which two and you certainly won’t know why.
  • The dinner table at home. This is the good one. Having three kids means someone has to sit at the head of the dinner table. And guess who that someone usually is, Sam? That’s right: it’s DAD. Dad gets to be head of the table. He gets the big piece of chicken. He gets to stare at everyone vacantly while they argue. He gets to give a toast or say grace when inclined. He gets it all. Sometimes, when I visit my folks, I take the head of the table seat and my own dad ain’t happy about it. I can’t help it. The power is intoxicating.

HALFTIME!

Alex:

I’m finally getting married in December after a canceled wedding in 2020, and my wife and I decided to make vaccines a requirement to come. We both had bad cases of COVID last year, and have vulnerable family members, so making vaccines a requirement wasn’t necessarily a tough decision. The problem is a friend of mine I’ve known for 15 years is a Republican, and bluntly told me he will never be vaccinated, even if that means he has to miss the wedding. He then went on to give the classic “done his own research” that I, a Lib, would have never seen. He’s also a groomsman, making this all extra frustrating. So, I guess my question is do I stay friends with this guy, or is this something worth cutting him out of my life?

It’s not worth cutting him out of your life entirely, but you can make your friend pay for his selfishness by un-inviting him to the wedding. He won’t like that. He’ll call you every last name in Donald Jr.’s book when you do it. But we’re at the point now where there have to be real, tangential consequences for the unvaccinated. It’s the only way to move the ball forward. We’ve coddled these people for way, way too long, and the pandemic is having an extended coda because of their intractability, and because of everyone else being far too tolerant about it.

That has to end. People are still dying. Places that would otherwise be safe still are not. Airlines still have mask policies that they wouldn’t need to have if anti-vaxxers got the jab instead of waving a fucking American flag in protest anytime you asked them to get it. There’s no point in trying to talk it out with people like the groomsman in question. You can either get vaccinated and rejoin society, or you can be excluded. The latter is the repercussion you deserve for being a selfish prick. If you don’t wanna get vaccinated, bully for you. But don’t expect the rest of the world to accommodate you. If you didn’t do your part to help end this shit, you lost the right to normalcy.

Matt:

What’s the worst children’s party you’ve been to?

Any kiddie birthday party where I had to stay the whole time. That happens when your kid is, like, three. But once the kid is five-ish and you can drop them off for parties and playdates, you will be ECSTATIC. That’s another one of those undercovered parenting milestones that means more to me than, like, baby’s first word. I don’t give a shit what your first word was, kid. I just wanna know when I can leave you with strangers and go get a burger on my own.

Dave:

I’m at a pizza shop, waiting for them to call my name for the Italian sub that I’ve already ordered. As I’m standing around waiting for it, people who are coming in to place an order keep lining up behind me, afraid to cross the invisible threshold where I’m standing. Occasionally one asks me if I’m in line, and I tell them, “no.” I couldn’t be doing less to act like I’m in line and expecting to go next. I’m casually leaning against the side wall counter, my face buried in my smartphone. I don’t find their timid hesitance to just walk past me courteous, I find it annoying as if I’m responsible for these people standing around like dopes.

You’ve got the wrong attitude toward this, Dave. It’s true that smartphones have contributed to line confusion, because people are often too busy looking at their phones to actually move forward in the queue. BUT… when I go into a joint and there’s a dude who looks like he’s waiting and it turns out he’s actually not, I feel incredibly relieved. That’s one less person I have to wait behind. And when it’s the opposite situation and I’m the one who’s already ordered, I can see the gratitude in people’s faces when I tell them that no, they’re actually free to advance to the counter to place their order right now. Makes their day.

So you shouldn’t be irritated when people ask you if you’re in line. They’re asking because they don’t wanna accidentally cut in front of you, and you get to be the first to inform them that there’s no line at all. That’s fun for everybody involved. People are annoying in so many other ways. This is not one of them. Also, your pizza shop should just have separate ORDER HERE and PICKUP areas. Very easy to set up. Even food trucks can pull that off.

Ian:

Is Ben Roethlisberger going to have the lowest energy sendoff of all time?

How would I know? He’s been saying this might be my last year for a fucking decade now. He’s never retiring, and if he ever does he’ll just un-retire a month later. The cruel twist is that Jim Nantz and company will still spend every game from here on out treating Roethlisberger like he founded the March of Dimes. He doesn’t need to officially announce his retirement when he already gets a perpetual major-league dicksucking from the NFL media and from our very worst Steelers fans.

Matt:

Nowadays it seems that “Hell,” “Damn,” and “Ass” aren’t considered swears, “Shit” and “Asshole” are but are permissible on daytime cable and are akin to “Hell” and “Damn” from our youth, and “Fuck” is considered the most extreme but is still multiple notches less extreme than it used to be. Other than the “c-word,” what are the bad words for today’s youth? What is currently offensive that really won’t be in a couple decades? Does this phenomenon occur with all generations? If so, why?

The offensive stuff now is all from the epithet bin. The n-word is still linguistic plutonium, as are the r-word, the c-word, the k-word, the OTHER f-word, and any other cancellable shit. Now if you’re a standup comedian, this is proof of fascism and that millennials will never win us any meaningful wars. If you’re normal, this is a relatively welcome development. I got tired of telling my kids, “Now we don’t say hell,” roughly 13 years ago, and I don’t bother to correct them on it anymore on it. The only time I correct my kids now is if they’re NASTY, regardless of the words they use. And I remind them to never be racist shitbags.

The linguistic shift is already reflected in pop culture. For example, if someone is racist or sexist or anything else in a movie now, that won’t go without comment from either another character or from the director via sinister framing or obvious music cues. There’ll always be some guardrail factored into the movie to let you know these are not the opinions of the Viacom corporation or its shareholders. The racist will already have been established as the bad guy. But that A) fails to give the viewer a chance to make their own conclusions about the character in question, and B) doesn’t always reflect how people really interact, especially if you go back in recent time. A lot of that shit, especially casual homophobia, went unaddressed back when I was growing up. But for now, if you want a dead-on-balls accurate depiction of how people behaved in the ’80s, you have to watch a movie MADE in the ’80s. Usually starring James Spader.

Just realized I haven’t answered the second part of Matt’s question. If what’s currently offensive now isn’t in a couple of decades, that means Trump probably won reelection in 2024 and your new dirty words will be, like, “please” and “thank you.”

Parker:

This year, I’ve been invited to join the weekend-long draft proceedings/party to emcee our fantasy draft and play the role of Roger Goodell. Any tips for me to deliver the most Goodellian experience possible?

Do you want Pandemic Goodell, with the tasteful shirt/sweater combo? Or do you want Corner Office Goodell, with the suit and the hugs? I think you should rent a karaoke machine and SING the name of every draft pick to the tune of “The Boys Are Back In Town.”

Jack:

Are people are only interested in musicians who are approximately in their own age group?

No. If you told me people were only interested in musicians who make them FEEL a certain age (it’s 18), then you’d be onto something. But that would be some tacky, Cameron Crowe–ass insight now, wouldn’t it?

Vitor:

My wife and I have six-month-old daughter (our first child). Though we are both working from home, we work very long hours and recently hired a nanny. She’s been great and very caring with our daughter, who also seems to love her. Problem is – she’s a huge Jesus freak. Plays kid gospel songs all the time to our daughter, and even sings out loud around the house. My wife tells me to let it go (both of us were educated in Catholic schools and are now atheists) and that I can’t risk losing a good nanny – especially as our daughter is so young and probably can’t understand it. It has been really annoying me, not only because I hear this bullshit while working from home, but mainly because I don’t want her to brainwash my baby. What should I do: let it go, talk to the nanny or fire her outright?

I’d let it go. We sent our kids to a church preschool. They had to say a little prayer before lunch every day. I didn’t give a shit. It was a good school, and there are worse things to tell a child than “God loves you.” If your nanny is going a little overboard with the Flanders routine, you can sit her down and have a little chat about it. If she goes WAY overboard and starts being like, “One day we’re going to stop the steal” to your kid, that’s when you can get your pink slip in order.

Email of the week!

Sam:

During last year’s NBA season before the league briefly shut down due to COVID, and the Milwaukee Bucks were an absolute joy to watch as they were steam rolling any team visiting the Fiserv Forum, my friend (who has season tickets) would occasionally invite me to games because he is awesome. 

Well, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was signing autographs on “Sky Hook” branded hats before a game we went to one evening, in a “special” entrance that only people with a certain credit card account had access to. Since my friend has that credit card, and happens to work for that company, we strolled into this side entrance where there was virtually no line to get an autograph from a superstar basketball player, author, and actor. I was able to walk right up to him, and noticed he already seemed visibly tired and grumpy with what seemed to be some sort of contractual obligation to sign hats before a basketball game. I proceeded to say to him,

“You were great in Airplane!”

He let out a quiet grunt, and didn’t even look up. I had completely whiffed on one of my only chances to interact with an actual superstar by making a dumb joke that he has probably already heard hundreds of times before. The thing is, I really do like him in that movie! I still laugh when I think about him railing into that kid for saying that he doesn’t “hustle enough” on the court. 

The problem is that I could have said something of so much more value, even if it was just “you are awesome and I really dig your accomplishments in life.”

Anyways… Do you have any regrettable interactions with a superstar athlete that haunt you to this day?

One time I had an affair with Amanda Beard. I could have ended it better.