Walter Evans, an English professor with a PhD from the University of Chicago, loved golf -- the putt-putt kind he played with his kidson weekends. Anything more advanced ``and I was a dud,'' he freely admits. Such limited golfing skill was no hindrance to Evans's career or life style as long as he remained in Kenosha, Wis. But then he was appointed professor of English here at Augusta College and he quickly learned that if you can't play golf (or, at the very least, talk it up) in the town made famous by the Masters golf tournament, you are something of an oddity.
``I was a freak . . . in a big way!'' he exclaims. ``I had to walk away from conversations in the hall.'' Everyone, it seems, talked golf and admired golfing prowess.
To remedy the situation and enter the social swing of things, Professor Evans taught himself all he could about golf. He did an impressively thorough job of it. The upshot of several years of this intense research is a new trivia game laid out like a golf course and designed to put confident self-assurance into the step of everyone who moves or wants to move in golfing circles.
``Golf Smarts'' comes onto the market officially yesterday, the opening day of this year's Masters.
The game contains information about, naturally, the Masters and other United States tournaments, along with the British Open, women's records, foreign players, prize money, golf history and lore.
In the game, the well-rolled die equals a well-swung club. A high number gets you to the green and gives you the right to select the question category. Roll a one, the equivalent of a muffed shot, and your opponent dictates the question category. There are preset categories for rolling intermediate numbers.
Once on the green, an immediate correct answer means you've scored a birdie; take two shots at the answer and you've equaled par; three and you've scored a bogey. There's a way, too, to score an eagle, but botch the attempt and it's an automatic bogey.
Much painstaking research preceded the production of this game. Accuracy was vital, but Evans learned researching lessons well at graduate school. The top rule: Be careful -- ultracareful, in fact. Never accept an answer from only one source; check it with a dozen sources if possible.
Has it all paid off? Yes. Now Evans can stand his ground in the halls and corridors of Augusta College or even at Augusta National itself and talk away.
By the way, has his literal golf swing improved any? ``I'm better with a hockey stick,'' Evans says.
Some sample trivia questions:
Name the first British queen noted for playing golf. (Victoria, Anne, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, or Brunhilde). In which movie did James Bond outcheat the villain in a golf match? Sam Snead won how many PGA Tour championships in his career? (Answers: Mary, Queen of Scots; ``Goldfinger''; 84.)
For more information write: Funsport, PO Box 3468, Augusta, Ga. 30904.