Jeez. Talk about love/hate thing. I have a standing order with my son. Should I ever pick up clubs again and start talking about getting out on the links, kill me when I’m sleeping.
I retired from golf in 2000. I came to the realization that my game had peaked. No matter how much more time and money I put into the game, my enjoyment factor wasn’t going up, matter of fact I was looking at a lifetime of even more frustration.
In December of 2000 I achieved one of the pinnacle milestones of the game, an eagle on a par three, or as they say at the putt-putt course, a hole in one. This hole in one came only a few weeks after the other eagle of my career on a par four, a shot that was very close to the becoming a Double Eagle and was possible the finest shot of my career. I drove the hole on a 245 yard par four.
The hole in one BTW, a 180sih yard par three.
The issue? Two dramatic shots, well one dramatic shot and one that used my entire year’s supply of luck were sandwiched between 1000’s other shitty drives and horrible fairway shots. In my playing days I spent more time looking for balls in brush and woods than actually doing more traditional golf related activities, like walking down the fairway. I didn’t really walk down many fairways, at least not go get to my ball, more likely I was walking down the side of the fairway, constantly glancing back the tee box as I tried to figure about where I thought the ball might have curved off into the woods.
I really was terrible. “ But Sank, if you keep working at it and practicing..” At the time of my retirement I’d been playing for about 15 years. The difference between my first round of golf, which I should point out was played at Pebble Beach, not exactly the place to learn the game so to speak, and my last round, was that when I played my last round, I had three kids. That’s about the only difference in my life that I can attest too.
I do have some stories however. The houses I’ve hit, ahhh from tile roofs in Arizona to Northern Wisconsin’s shingle sidings. The joy of actually hitting a green juxtaposed with absolute panic and fear as I see my tee shot curving towards 5 lanes of opposing traffic on a freeway that happened to be along the course. Granted there was a about a 100 yard buffer zone, not enough for me however. What about the conversations I had with a homeowner in San Ramon minutes after I put a Slazenger into his upstairs bathroom. I told him to keep the ball. Told the cops the same thing a hole and half later when they hailed me down on the course. Nothing came of it as I was able to make the case to the constables that when you live on a golf course, you become a part of the course.
I had a set of custom clubs. Thought would help, nope. Expensive Titlist balls, no different from my collection of black striped range balls. Shoes, gloves, you name it. I‘ve hit lakes, rivers, trees, new lava, old lava, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I fought off alligators, geese, and angry bees on the golf course. I’ve argued with marshals, foursomes ahead of me, foursomes behind me and with foursomes I happened to be playing with. I’ve met some of the biggest assholes you’d ever want to meet out there, and a couple really decent people. I’ve seen the worst cheaters I’ve ever known, and I’ve been accused of cheating, wrongly. My usual defense was “when you play as bad as I do, why would I waste my time cheating?”
My game was characterized as long and wild. I could legitimately hit driver about 280 to 300 yards. Of course there as about 45 degree angle from tee and which direction it exploded from I really never knew.
Towards the end the game became such a time suck and money hole that realized I should focus on my strengths and buy a decent fishing boat. Best decision I ever made.
My clubs still stand in the garage. Dusty as can be, pocket was full of an assortment of balls collected from the wild, I’m guessing my oldest son has cleaned those out long ago.
I actually stopped playing about the time Mrs S started playing. A golf course can really put stress on a marriage. Mrs S is not as open to suggestion on the course as you would expect. And Mrs S, being the comptroller that she is, also counts snacks and drinks on the course, which was a bit of buzzkill. Finally, I developed this idea that if I would watch the kids while she played golf with her Dad and sister, I would be putting direct deposits into the Honey Bank which could be redeemed later for acts of kindness and weekend passes.
That was before I fully understood the Marital Favor Bank and its policies of husbands pay in and then, pay in some more.
I recently participated in an exercise where I had to come up with a couple truths and a lie, other folks had to guess the lie. The Golf thing came to mind for some reason. Here goes-
1) I once hit a hole in one with a four iron. This is true. I should be proud of it except.. When you think of eagles, most people think of the soaring tee shot, the drop on the green and a little back roll into the cup. Here’s how I did it. I took a full on, Babe Ruth swat’n for the fence swing at my defenseless ball and like I so often did, I topped it. Badly. The ball took a trajectory that looked more like a cruise missile than a golf shot. It hugged the ground, never getting more than a few inches off the grass as it followed the terrain towards the hole. As it approached a sand trap it hit the handle of the rake laying on the grass, bounced up over the trap, onto the green and then did a giant banana roll, which caused my brother in law, halfway through the roll to exclaim “Holy shit that’s going in.” and I did it. And as a reward for my shot, I had to pay out yard large in drinks because of the lamest rule on the planet that says the dude who hit the shot, treats those who did not. Two things about that shot which contributed to the collective joy suck from the experience; Had I hit the same shot three holes later on a shorter par 3 I would have won a check for $1,000 from the resort, the other; my score for the round, even with the eagle, 113, one of my worst ever. Cruel game.
2) I once defended myself against an alligator with a four iron. This is also true, basically. The inlaws and I were playing at some resort course in Ixtapa Mexico. The course rule was that you had have a caddy. I had Jorge. Which BTW is my second favorite Spanish name, after Jesus. Which for those of you in Duluth are pronounced Hor-Hay and Hay-Sus. Love saying those. Anyway, Hor-Hay realized pretty early on that this was going to be an easy day for him, or a hard one depending on if I wanted him to go looking for balls or if I would do it myself. I didn’t really know how to use a caddy. Let’s just say that old Jorge wasn’t the most supportive person I’ve ever been around. About the third hole I hit my ball into some reeds long side a big lake. As I was marching down to find my ball, George, aka Jorge, who was standing on the fairway with my bag looking lame yelled to me.. “Senior, pelegro los lagaritos”. I don’t do Spanish. Wonder why he’s telling me the floor is wet. (Pelligro is all over the yellow cones I see in bathrooms) As I approached the reeds, there was a sudden explosion of water that almost literally scared the crap outta me. Turns out lagarito is Spanish for alligator in that part of Mexico. And one of the little bastards was making a charge at me, which made fall over backwards as I was swinging my four iron at him. Turned out he was bluffing and the thing quickly retreated into the lake. I gotta say, the 20 minutes it took ole Jorge to compose himself and stop laughing came directly out of his gawd damned tip. But I did get a new Spanish word out of the deal, one I’ll never forget.
3) I once killed a goose with a four iron. This is not true. I did not kill the thing. I think it had a heart attack. And since I also nearly had a heart attack, I’m calling this even. Stockton, about 1979. I hit a ball over the green, again into a swampy place with reeds and such along a canal. In the reeds was a nesting goose, one of those big ugly French ones with the pink skin tags hanging off their faces. The goose must have been nesting because as I got closer she hunkered down in the reeds and tried to hide from me. I’ve seen Canada geese do this along trout streams. You can almost step on them, which in this case, is what I did. Mother Goose exploded out of the reeds and came straight at my me, hissing, wings splayed, attacking my pant legs. Again knocked me backwards. In a purely defensive move I swung my club and the next thing I knew, goose was unconscious. I don’t think I even hit it. I certainly didn’t mean too. “So Sank” you say,” you did kill a goose you thoughtless bastard, this is a true story”. No, it’s not because 1) I actually had a nine iron not a four iron and 2) She might have come too later, I didn’t stick around to find out, not having a Federal Waterfowl stamp on my score card.
That’s more than I’ve thought about golf in like 15 years. Maybe I should go check out the clubs again…