I’m a big fan of the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner and by extension, their blog in the New York Times. I visit it nearly every day, and always find something that makes me think more critically about the world around me. (I also recommend Cafe Hayek and Marginal Revolution.)
There’s even the occasional bit about golf. In the last one, Levitt wrote about how he was retiring from golf. In the most recent, he has what he calls the best golf story ever told by an economist:
An economist friend, who is also an accomplished golfer, recently told me the following story.
He and two friends had made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of golf: the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. They had managed to secure a tee time and were just about to tee off when the starter stopped them and told them to wait — he had a fourth player who would be joining them. The three friends were disappointed; what sort of schmuck were they going to get stuck with?
After brief introductions, the fourth player asked them what their handicaps were. A handicap in golf more or less corresponds to how many strokes you shoot over par on average. They told him their handicaps, which were three, four, and seven (which by the way, means they are exceptionally good recreational golfers).
The fourth player, who was standing on the tee with a set of right-handed clubs, said “O.K., great, I get my left-handed clubs” — the implication being that if he instead played left-handed, it would be a more even match. He headed back to his car, grabbed a set of left-handed clubs, and true to his word, proceeded to shoot a three over par 75.
You’ll have to read their blog to find out who the mysterious player was.