Best of 2015: A Good Walk Spoiled By John

First Published: Jul 3, 2015
Voted For By: Keegan, Mark R
Reason(s) For Vote:
“I love reading anything by Ric, simply because his brain is so strange and alien. He sees things in the most amazing ways, and I inevitably find myself fascinated by the most mundane subjects. I love golf games though, so Ric’s commentary on the ever-so-chipper, well, commentary, of John was a really fun read. Having played the game with Ric and experienced it first-hand only made the article better.” – Keegan

“I remember years ago watching Being John Malkovic for the first (and only) time, thinking “who the hell would even come up with a concept where you go to spend a day inside someone else’s mind?”, telling myself that it was a ridiculous notion.  Then I met Ric.  As smart as he is (and he genuinely is), there is a beauty in his mindset that defies all rationale.  He views the world though Ric-tinted glasses, and if it meant ending up in a ditch off the New Jersey Turnpike just to get fifteen minutes with his mind, I’d still be there in a shot.” ~ Mark R

“Hi, I’m John.”

Hello, John.

“Welcome to the club, let’s get started!”

Um. Ok, John.

I don’t know who John is. I couldn’t tell you what he looks like. I think he’s maybe Canadian, judging by the way he pronounces some words. Maybe he has a wife, or a husband. Maybe they have kids together. Presumably he has a bit of money behind him, otherwise he wouldn’t be hanging around golf clubs talking to strangers. Or maybe he doesn’t have much money, and he’s saving up by doing some caddying for a bit. I’m not even sure he is my caddy. I’ve never even seen him. He’s just a disembodied voice.

John follows you round as you play a round in The Golf Club, throwing out hints, tips, and comments. Most of the time he sounds like he just wants you to get this over with so he can go home. “Alright, let ‘er rip” is a favourite line of his as you step up to the tee. Sometimes he’ll comment on the wind, but only if it’s so bad that you have to rethink your entire approach. And occasionally he’ll start off kind, and then take it all back. “Looking good“, he once remarked as the ball flew off the tee. “Wait, I spoke too soon, yep that’s in the rough“, he muttered afterwards, having watched my ball get hit by the wind and carried off into the trees.

There’s something very calming about John, however. His measured, sometimes sarcastic response to your catastrophic fuck ups makes you feel at ease, even though you’re about to go diving into a lake to find a tiny ball. His general indifference to your putting ability means you also don’t care when you hit it off the green and back into the rough. And his genuine excitement when you do manage to hit a good shot brings a smile to your face every time. It’s like going round the course with your best friend, having a few drinks and just killing time. There’s no pressure. There’s just you, the course, the ball, and John.

Other sports games don’t do this for you. I fired up Madden 25 the other night for a bit of something different, and was shocked by how much abuse the announcers gave me. After enveloping myself in the gentle, dulcet tones of John, the harsh criticisms of the commentators was like a slap round the face. They didn’t care that my quarterback had just broken all of his ribs after getting hit by a huge guy in body armour. As Peyton Manning was stretchered off, probably to the nearest hospital for thirteen hours of surgery and having to breathe through a tube for eight weeks, the announcers only cared that I had decided not to take a punt on the 4th and just go for it instead.

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” they screamed, as the Rams took possession and swiftly scored a touchdown. “WHO MAKES A PLAY ON THE 4th WHEN THEY’RE DEEP IN THEIR OWN 20?!” Having only understood roughly half of these words, I decided that I should also become riled, and start shouting back at the TV. Sadly, virtual commentators don’t know when they’re being told to fuck off, so their tirade about my lack of strategic planning ability continued, and as half-time rolled in, I promptly turned the game off.

John would never yell at me. I might tell him to stick his golf club up his arse sometimes, but only in a friendly way. With John it’s just banter. In Madden, it’s life or death. I like to think that if my golfer suddenly had a heart attack on the course, John wouldn’t just stand over my collapsed body criticising me for slicing the ball off into the woods. He probably knows CPR. John’s good like that.

To be completely honest, I don’t think I even like The Golf Club that much. It’s a fairly standard golf game that simulates hitting a ball with a big stick very well. But having John there with you makes all the difference. Hell, I would play a game where you just sit in the bar afterwards, having a few beers and shooting the breeze. I want to get to know John. I want to find out what makes him tick, what his home life is like, what his hopes and dreams and fears are. I want him to be more than just a disembodied voice who tells you that your last shot was a bag of shite. I want him to be a friend.

Last five articles by Ric


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