Saturday, June 16, 2007

Golf is Grand

I love golf. I read a pithy joke somewhere about men beating the ground with sticks, cursing their God, and how that has evolved into the sport of golf. I enjoy golf because it's fun. Even if I play poorly, it's still fun. I thought I'd share a brief story from a few years back. This took place when I was stationed in 29 Palms, California. One of the young men that I worked with was a very skilled golfer, and was personal friends with the "pro" at the local course. We would occasionally go play a round with him, and generally had a good time.

One fine day, my buddy "Bobby" asked if we could knock off of work early and go play with the local pro out at the community course. I said, "Sure, but I don't want to play for money; you know that I stink at golf." "No problem, it will only be a buck a hole if we do." Off we went. I ran home, changed clothes, and we met up with "Rick," the golf pro. Since he pretty much ran the place, we didn't even have to pay for the round. As I feared, the bet was a buck per hole.

Since I had absolutely no skills at that time, I didn't want to play for money. Not only would I surely lose, but I was more interested in having fun. I wanted the option of hitting a second shot, moving my ball out of the rocks, etc. When playing for money, strict adherence to the rules is a must. Understandable, but that takes a bit of the fun out of it for a hack like me.

I played at my usual level of the time, typically finishing each hole at double or triple bogey (two or three strokes over par). Bobby and Rick were in a heated battle, as both were "scratch" golfers. On the 11th hole, my drive, as well as Rick's went into the deep rough to the right of the fairway. We both had to go hunt around for our balls (yeah, yeah; get your minds out of the gutter). While beating the brush in a feeble attempt to find my ball, I glanced over in Rick's direction. I saw him pull a ball out of his pocket and drop it into the light rough next to the fairway. He was cheating! That would be grounds for disqualification, but this was supposed to be a "friendly" game.

When we all finally reached the green, I putted out and stood by while Bobby and Rick did the same. I then asked Rick, "So Rick, how many strokes did you add for your drop?" Typically, if you cannot find your ball, you can drop a ball where your ball entered the obstacle (rough, water, out of bounds, etc) with a penalty. He looked at me like I had two heads. "What are you talking about?" he asked. "When you made that drop after your drive, did you take two strokes?" I asked. "I didn't make a drop; I found my ball." I just shook my head and let it go. I later told Bobby what I had seen, and he was not surprised. This is where fate comes in to play.

It is said that "what comes around goes around." I guess that may be true. As I was shaking my head in disgust at Rick's blatant cheating, a golf ball came out of nowhere and struck him directly in the crotch. He crumbled to the ground and began writhing in pain. About five seconds later, we heard a pitiful "FORE!" come from the next hole over. The timing could not have been better. I was a bit bothered by the fact that the errant golfer waited to yell "fore" until after his ball had struck another player, but I was secretly tickled by the fact that Rick had received his just desserts. Bobby leaned over and whispered to me, "He can keep the two strokes."

This brief story was inspired by the fact that I had wanted to play a round of golf today for Father's Day, but I cannot. Alas, it is raining to beat the band. No golf for me today; only memories of past rounds.

Happy Father's Day to all of you other dads out there.

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