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Today's NYT mini crossword had an across clue "Driving test?" for which the answer was "GOLF" (I got it by all the down clues). How does that work?

I looked it up and saw that "GOLFGAME" was used as the answer for the same clue in an old WSJ crossword, and can't figure out the logic.

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    $\begingroup$ The manner in which they're using "test" is similar to the phrase "Bill is testing my patience." Your patience is being put to the test of handling an annoying person, Bill. Similarly, a game of golf tests your driving ability, so it is a driving test. Put another way, playing golf is a way of testing how good you are at driving, so it is a driving test. $\endgroup$ – Mike Earnest Oct 19 '16 at 1:13
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A question mark indicates a pure cryptic clue. E.g. from this tutorial on solving crosswords:

The second exception to a straightforward definition is a “pure cryptic” clue. In this clue type, the whole clue is a cryptic definition. These clues are often an opportunity for the Setter to have a sense of humour. For example:

He barely makes an appearance? (6)
Answer: NUDIST
The whole clue is the definition however the word “barely” needs to be interpreted unusually for this context.

“Pure cryptic” clues are often indicated by a question mark.

In this case, you're meant to interpret the word "driving" not in terms of driving a car or other vehicle, but in terms of golf. I must admit I'm not sure of the significance of the word "test" though.


It's worth noting that "Driving test?" can also be a cryptic clue for DOGLEG (don't ask - I've no idea). This makes it not really a very good clue, IMO.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah ... I realized it was pure cryptic, just couldn't figure out the logic behind it $\endgroup$ – asymptotically Oct 19 '16 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ DOGLEG is a related answer, and I think it is likewise a fine answer to the clue, it requires a knowledge of the game of golf. A "dogleg" is a golf hole with a fairway with a particular shape - a curve in one direction or the other - that emphasizes a particular aspect of the tee shot (aka the "drive"): the ability to curve the ball left or right to match the shape of the fairway. It is thus a "test" of driving ability. $\endgroup$ – tmpearce Oct 19 '16 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ You just had to choose that example :P $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Oct 19 '16 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Beastly I didn't choose it, the site I'm quoting from did :-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 19 '16 at 10:26

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