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Doug Clark: Frustration, stress are par for the course

I know what you duffers out there are thinking on this fine September Sunday.

You’re thinking …

“Lord, I wish I could be Stan Peterson.”

Peterson’s the lucky stiff who just won $215,000, plus free golf for life at any Spokane course.

The City Council approved the details of this wacky arrangement last week.

Free golf for life, huh?

And passes for his pals.

Well, be careful what you wish for, you slice-happy hackers.

Lifetime tee-times may sound like a dream come true, but I believe dark forces are at work here.

See, golf may look like a leisurely and lovely pastime when you’re watching the Masters or the Ryder Cup on the tube.

Truth is, golf is the most freakishly difficult, frustrating, stress-inducing, damnable ADDICTION ON EARTH!!

Look what too much golf did to poor Tiger Woods.

One moment the guy’s nailing every hole in sight, next moment he’s being chased down the street by his angry, club-swinging trophy wife.

As a former teen golfing prodigy (more on that in a minute), I know the pitfalls of the fairways only too well.

Now I wish we knew more of the details surrounding the Peterson settlement.

Sadly, the man signed one of those “zip-your-lip” agreements to keep him from revealing his handicap.

We do know that five years of legal wrangling commenced after Peterson stepped on a busted sprinkler cover while playing a round at Esmeralda Golf Course.

The golfer hurt his ankle and back and couldn’t work.

The fact the city agreed to settle at all, however, represents a fascinating departure from the way things used to work.

For the last thousand or so years the official policy of our Lilac Blunderland was as follows:

No Settling Allowed.

It was easier to win a spitting contest with a cobra than to get the city’s law snakes to cop to any wrongdoing.

Take what happened to Bill Tann, a guy I wrote about a couple decades ago.

Tann, like Peterson, took a tumble.

The difference was that Tann wasn’t shooting for par. He was simply walking down one of Spokane’s many pockmarked thoroughfares and fell into a pothole that could have gobbled a monster truck.


Tann thought the city was at fault and should therefore pay him 500 bucks for pain, suffering and a broken wristwatch.

City shysters reacted in typical fashion.

After piddling themselves with glee, they pretended to be deaf and unable to speak English, a ruse that was usually enough to drive any citizen away in a blubbering sog of tears.

Tann, however, is an extraordinarily persistent individual.

He kept filing claims and counterclaims until the city finally agreed to settle the matter – for one quarter.

Yep. A lousy 25 cents.

But that was then.

As one of his first acts as Boy Mayor, David Condon had the city attorney’s office fumigated.

And as this golfing settlement suggests, a more generous and compassionate era has settled into City Hall.

Or has the city just gotten more diabolical?

It’s obvious to me that our dealmakers are trying to kill poor Peterson off or put him in the booby hatch.

I know from experience that golf is the enemy of all that is virtuous and true.

I don’t like to brag. But I shot a 43 on the Esmeralda front nine when I was 14 years old.

My old man thought I’d be the next Arnold Palmer.

The next time I went out I lost three balls – before the third hole.

I’m pretty sure that’s when I started losing my hair.


Mark Twain didn’t call it a good walk spoiled for nothing.

Doug Clarkcan be reached at (509) 459-5432