I was at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, following Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel with my 10-year-old grandson, Jacob.
On one par-4 hole, Horschel’s drive came to rest near us and we waited to watch him hit to the green.
Horschel’s second shot looked good for a while. The ball arched toward the pin, hit, then rolled cruelly to the bottom of the elevated green.
Horschel, one of the more colorful players on the PGA Tour, uttered a four-letter word and was off.
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Jacob and I headed down the cart path for about 30 seconds before he mentioned the elephant on the fairway: “He said a bad word.”
“I know,” I told him. “Your pop-pop does that once in a while, too.”
“Yeah, but not on national television.”
No, never on national television and, I learned recently, I’d better never utter a profanity in Myrtle Beach. It could cost me.
In a recent story in The Sun News, reporter Hannah Strong wrote that Myrtle Beach had issued a total of 269 citations to people who had uttered profanities in public.
The citations added $22,161 to the city’s coffers, but the idea was never to get rich off swearing.
Mainly it’s to make certain one person’s words do not incite a conflict with others.
I like the law, as long as it continues to be reasonably enforced. This is a beach town, a place for sometimes outlandish behavior, but as city spokesman Mark Kruea put it: “There is an expectation of a certain amount of propriety in a public place.”
It’s also a golf town and, well, I admit that I occasionally play golf in Myrtle Beach - on a public golf course - and occasionally certain words leave my mouth on the trail of a wayward shot.
It’s usually an involuntary reaction and so far I’m pretty sure no other golfers have been offended. I play with the Grand Strand Swingers, not the Grand Strand Saints.
My profanity has been a learned art. I think it reaches back to my first few days in Marine Corps recruit training. My drill instructor had a wonderfully profane vocabulary and he applied it liberally as he turned us “(expletive) maggots” into Marines.
Well, I can honestly say that even after four years in the Corps I never uttered a profanity in front of Mom - she would have been horrified - or any other relatives. And I do not recall using profanity in public (other than that dreaded golf course).
I once used a slightly more profane word for “dang” in a column, and was chastised for it by a reader. I assured her I’d never use any such word in print again. So far, so good.
So I think I’m home safe as far as this anti-cussing law is concerned, especially at my age. I’m afraid Myrtle Beach will have to look elsewhere to fill its swear jar.
Contact Bob Bestler at firstname.lastname@example.org.