The Mystery Behind The Golf Ball Death Traps On Campus

By Nash Wills, Co-Editor

A golf ball or a land mine? Is there even a difference?
A golf ball or a land mine? Is there even a difference?

To all fans, organizers, participants, members, and attendees associated with the clandestine annual event that is the Thunderbird Underground Golf Classic, I am writing to you today in an attempt to dispel any rumors surrounding the cancellation of this year’s tournament. We, the Board of Trustees of the Classic, understand that you may have recently received an email that could cause you to assume the endangerment of our secrecy by the powers that be. Allegedly, “an abundance of golf balls” have been popping up around campus, and, in an attempt to either quell or profit from our historic tournament, these authorities have issued a thinly veiled caution guised as a concern for our safety. According to the aforementioned email, these stray golf balls are individual “safety hazards that could truly be life-threatening.”

For all of those associated with the sport of golf, I need not explicate the risks you knowingly take once you make the decision to participate—like mixed martial arts, bull fighting, or even war, golf is a sport in which you truly take your life into your own hands. For those associated with the Thunderbird tournament in particular, I needn’t also reiterate the first and only rule of the Underground Classic: You do not talk about the Underground Classic!

To all new to the event, I would like to take a moment to briefly touch on its history, so as to impress upon you the importance of maintaining it as a private and classified affair.

Now we all know that the tourism industry in the Phoenix area has historically and ironically been linked to the sport of golf. With over 200 courses sporadically placed throughout the valley, it’s not hard to see why Scottsdale is consistently listed as “America’s best place to live for golf.” These massive experiments in irrigation exist as testaments to mankind’s power over the natural world. As the old adage goes, “If life gives you an arid desert averaging 8 inches of rain per year, build golf courses on it.”

The Arizona Snowbird compared with a similar species
The Arizona Snowbird compared with a similar species

As somewhat of an aside, but nevertheless an important one, it’s also not hard to see why these golf courses have provided ornithologists all over the globe with key insights into the migratory patterns of birds. While the mystery behind migration for most avian species remains elusive, scientists now believe that they have solved the behavioral riddle of the Arizona Snowbird. At the start of winter in mid-November in the Northeastern United States each year, a sort of biological “switch” goes off in the minds and bodies of this ancient species, ultimately directing them to begin a long and harrowing journey southwest where they finally settle down in an assortment of retirement municipalities. Sun City and Surprise, for example, are  each unique and fascinating real-world studies of these nurturing estuaries. Typically electing to travel by RV, it has been theorized that the numerous golf courses act as a pseudo nesting ground for these aged fowl. How it is exactly that they inherently know the direction in which to travel remains a natural phenomenon and an enigma to modern science.

Surprise! Just kidding, it's Sun City
Surprise! Just kidding, it’s Sun City

I digress…Of all the links nestled within our desert oasis, without a doubt, the most famous is TPC Scottsdale, home to the annual Waste Management Open. Reminiscent of the 1996 hit sports comedy Happy Gilmore, this PGA spectacle consistently attracts half a million patrons, thereby making it the most attended event in golf and eliciting it the nickname “The Greatest Show on Grass.” The tournament is typified by its raucous atmosphere fueled by an assortment of odious individuals who ultimately represent an affront and direct contradiction to the gentlemanly standards championed by professional golf. Superimpose for a moment if you will, your stereotypical Wal-Mart crowd standing upon the meticulously maintained greens of The Players’ Course and right then, the picture begins to paint itself. For any international students, a day’s trip to the event is one that will most assuredly be well spent. The perfect grounds for experiencing the entire gambit of American vice, it’s not unusual to see the obese without shirts, or an ASU frat star drunkenly urinating behind a tent.

You may now find yourself asking, dear reader, “Why the detailed description of the Waste Management Open?” The answer: its history is inextricably linked with ours at the annual Thunderbird Underground Golf Classic. In an effort to uphold the dignity of the game, the PGA elected to host an exclusive and covert tournament during the week immediately following the Waste Management Open. Held beneath the cover of darkness, the tournament, amongst its respective clientele, has been compared to Davos, and is said to attract only the most elite of individuals from the four corners of the globe. One attendee of both the Waste Management and the Underground Classic, who, for purposes of anonymity will remain unnamed, recently said quote: “I’ve been to both tournaments and they are honestly incomparable. The exclusivity of the patrons, the limited field of players, the ferocity of competition at the Underground Classic is unparalleled, even by The Masters.”

The lovely patrons of the Waste Management Open
The lovely patrons of the Waste Management Open

Being that the Waste Management is scheduled to take place from February 2-5, it would only make sense then to be finding a number of golf balls inauspiciously strewed across campus. Shhhh…they are practicing for the even bigger event taking place next week on an unannounced day. To end with a forewarning though: For those planning on attending, have no fear for its cancellation, but rather, have fear for your lives, because as everyone knows, an isolated golf ball is just another death trap waiting to happen.

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