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A perk of this job is that you are periodically invited to play a round of golf.
Correction: It would be a perk if I happened to play golf. I, however, do not.
Now, before you put down this paper, please know that this is not one of those columns that belittles or besmirches the game.
That famous Mark Twain quote about the game has been so used, that I won’t even include it. I will note, however, that graphite and titanium had yet to be invented when Mr. Twain dissed the sport.
In fact, I understand the allure of golf, as I used to play it quite a bit.
That was in my Army days. I found myself stationed in Monterey, California. The military bases in the area had some of the finest courses on the peninsula. I seem to recall you could play 18 holes for the princely sum of six bucks.
But, as with everything in life, my stay in Monterey drew to a close and my post-Army career beckoned. Thereafter, I had too little time to give up big blocks of it to golfing.
I did keep my clubs, however, and that decision came back to haunt me.
My re-introduction to golf came when my (civilian) company had one of those employee tournaments.
It was a captain’s choice type of tourney, meaning that a foursome would use the best ball, no matter who hit it.
Somehow (by “somehow,” I mean that everyone else sandbagged their handicaps), I wound up as the #3 player on a team.
Our #1 guy (I’ll call him “Jim Weber”) was a hyper-competitive guy by nature. Plus, he was an avid golfer. He was dying to win this tourney.
I didn’t help things by telling him that I was “probably good for a decent shot every so often.”
I hadn’t played in more than five years. Back then, I MIGHT have been good for one decent shot every so often.
Anyway, the day of the big tourney comes and I’m up at the crack of dawn.
I break out my clubs and pull my golf shoes out of their storage bag. Ah, a bad omen. One of my shoes had cracked in half, it was so old.
So I show up, wearing sneakers and toting my metal-shaft Spalding clubs (I’m pretty sure Spalding no longer makes clubs). My captain looks at me askance, but recalls my assertions about my skills.
On our second shot on the third hole, Jim calls on my prowess. “OK, Mike, you’ll be the safety. I want you to chip over this tuft of trees. (By “tuft”, he meant a vast group of 120-foot oaks.) Once you make it, we’ll try a more risky approach with our other three shots and get a better lie.”
More risky than trying to blast the ball over trees that were planted during the McKinley Administration?
Jim is sitting in his cart, perpendicular to the path we expect the ball to follow (over said oak trees). He gives advice. “Spread your grip...open your club face...weight on the back foot,” and so forth.
I try to follow the guidance, take my swing and....the ball dribbles over in Jim’s direction, taps his cart and dies at his feet.
He wouldn’t even TALK to me the rest of the way, which wasn’t really a bad thing. In truth, I didn’t have much to say to him, either...well, nothing that can be shared in this PG-rated newspaper.
We didn’t win, of course, and thus had little to show for our day on the links.
Little, that is, except for this column.