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"Don't hurry, don't worry.
You're only here for a short visit.
So be sure to stop and smell the flowers."
Walter C. Hagen (1892-1969)

What’ll they think of next!
By Casey Corebit

I am a beginning golfer so to speak. Oh, I’ve played golf on and off in the past. But one day I decided to give the game the old college try. You know, it was that Tiger Woods’ thing. Everybody and his first cousin once removed were playing golf.

I sprung for lessons and the latest equipment—you know, for balls, clubs, and shoes, all with titanium in them.

Everything about golf is hi-tech nowadays. Boy, has the game come a long way since those gutta-percha golf balls, although dentists still use gutta-percha for root canals. “There’s got to be a connection there,” my dentist joked during my last root canal.

I read several golfing books for dummies, installed a satellite system, subscribed to the Golf Channel and watched “The Legend of Bagger Vance” on pay-per-view. I even memorized some of Bagger's maxims. Using my TIVO receiver, I analyzed Jack's golf swing in slow motion, and then had a pro dissect the videotape of my swing. Finally, I practiced spitting like Tiger, while mimicking Floyd’s killer look. Hell, I’d studied all the pros.

I added a driving net to my back yard, and commissioned the gardener who works next door to build a putting green. The hard-working fellow gave me a weird look, and muttered “Gringos” under his breath. I guess my Spanish wasn’t too good. But I was determined to break a hundred.

Aware of my new hobby, Sandy Eagleston, a friend at work, invited me to play in his foursome not long ago.

I mean Lake Hills Country Club was the best course around, and although $160 for green fees seemed rather steep to me, I accepted his invitation.

It was a gorgeous day on Saturday, with a warm dry wind blowing from the East. As I drove towards the club house, I caught glimpses of an immaculate golf course. The fairways were a vibrant green and double cut, and the sand traps were deeply furrowed, looking more like mining pits than bunkers. There were several water hazards with cascading waterfalls. It looked more like Disneyland than a golf course, and I knew was in for a treat. I mean, what'll they think of next. 

After I got out of the car, I took a deep breath, exhilarated by the fresh air and anticipation of my forthcoming golfing experience. This is what golf was all about, the enjoyment of nature, accompanied by good friends. Who said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled by a little white ball!” He was dead wrong—well, up to a point.

Let me set the stage before I describe the round. I’m kind of a free spirit, who doesn’t like to take orders. It’s just the way I am. Right off the bat, a couple of incidents bothered me.

Like when I met Sandy inside the pro-shop. The ruddy-faced pro warned sternly, “You need to play in four hours and 15 minutes.”

I nodded affirmatively, clutching both hands to avoid saluting him. That was number one.

“Shall we walk, Sandy?”

“No, let’s ride; we’ll play faster.” I shelled out another $30 for the golf cart.

A scruffy looking bagboy put my clubs on the cart rather sloppily. 

“Four hours and fifteen minutes,” he muttered.  I clutched both hands to avoid giving him the loser sign. 

Let me check the bottom of your shoes, he added.

You mean the souls?

Well, he inspected my shoes and I guessed they passed muster. Egad, they were brand new. He had gone way beyond the point of supererogation, considering his status in the pecking order. 

As I re-strapped my bag to the cart, I thought of asking for the tip back. Well, that was the second incident. But I was on my way now, and ready to enjoy some golf.

As I got into the cart I noticed that it had some sort of monitor installed on the dashboard.

“What’s that monitor all about, Sandy?”

“It gives you the yardage to the hole. The GPS system helps you play faster,” he mumbled.

“What’ll they think of next,” I smiled.

On the first tee, Sandy introduced me to the other two guys, Chip and Hawk, and they talked me into a $20.00 Nassau.

“I don’t have a handicap.”

“We’ll use the Catalan rating system to figure your handicap along the way,” Hawk replied.

“What’ll they think of next.”

The guys were all dressed in shorts. “A little warm for plus fours, Casey?”

“They’re made out of polyester,” I joked. No one laughed.

Before Sandy teed off, he set the timer on his digital watch. That was weird, I thought. Was he going to let those two time freaks ruin our day?

Everything went swimmingly until the fourth hole, when I noticed this strange looking fellow lurking behind us in a golf cart, watching our every move. I asked Sandy who he was.

“He’s a marshal, nothing to worry about.”

“A marshal? You mean a sheriff or something like that?”

“No, he’s just checking on us, making sure we keep up the pace. You know, making sure we play fast so to speak.”

Just the same the guy made me nervous, and I chilly-dipped my pitch shot. I looked back at the marshal who had a disgusted look on his face.

“Sorry,” I mumbled weakly.

Instead of pitching my next shot, I used my Texas wedge to play safe, leaving  a 30-footer. 

Since I was left with a nasty putt, I thought of examining the lay of the land, checking the break from all angles like I’d seen the pros do on the Golf Channel. But there wasn’t enough time for that. I thought of squatting down to give it a quick look from behind, but was afraid my knees would go “crack, crack” Instead, I plumb bobbed the line, trying to muster a professional look on my face. I addressed the putt, and knowing that the marshal was watching, decided against giving the line a second look.

I yipped the putt, ten feet past the hole. “It’s an extra-distance golf ball,” I joked feebly.

Silence.

The next putt hung on the lip and I waited for the ball to drop.

“Pick it up,” Sandy snapped. “The next one’s good.”

“But aren’t you supposed to wait ten seconds or something like that?” I asked as we walked to the next tee.

“Yeah, something like that. But the marshal is still following us. We’re going to play ready golf from now on. No formalities, no honors.”

The highlight of my unspectacular career occurred on the next hole. It was a par three, the signature hole on the course, one framed by tall Eucalyptus trees. There was water in front of the green and cascading waterfalls to each side, with a view of the snow-capped mountains behind the hole.

I made the perfect back swing, taking the club back in one piece, pausing at the top, with my left thumb under the shaft. I hesitated a few milliseconds, started the downswing with my legs, pulled down with my left arm, and took a large divot that flew high in the air. The swing seemed effortless and I finished with a nice follow through, wrapping the club around my neck, my arms close together. I posed, holding my follow through to watch a high, arching shot land on the green, spin back and drop into the cup. It was a one in a million golf swing, one I’d never repeat. A hole in one.

We were jubilant. All the guys gave me a high five and I promised to buy drinks when we got to the clubhouse.

As I walked to the green, I felt like Randolph Junuh, with Bagger Vance at my side, competing against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. I could hear the roar of the crowd echoing through the Eucalyptuses, and I picked the ball out of the cup and hurled it towards them. Then it grew quiet, deadly still, except for the rustle of the wind through the tall trees, and as quickly as they had arrived, the onlookers faded from view.

After the rest of the foursome putted out, I picked the flagstick up and looked around for Sandy. He was teeing off on the next hole.

The marshal was still lurking behind us, the grim look on his face telling me that we’d done too much celebrating.

Not bothering to align myself for the next drive or to take some time-consuming waggles, I sliced my drive into the woods. Maybe I should have waggled. But sometimes you can get into a waggle loop and not get out of it. I thought of Hubert Green who can waggle incessantly. It’s okay for the pros to do that, I guess. After all what do we amateurs know about waggling?

“Don’t bother hitting a provisional,” Sandy yelped, walking briskly towards the cart. “We’ll find it okay.”

As I got in the cart, I thanked Sandy for teeing off as quickly as he had. Having honors is just a stupid formality anyway.

Looking for golf balls in the woods can waste time. On the way to the woods, Sandy joked sarcastically, “If they’d store nuclear waste in golf balls, we could use a Geiger counter to find them. ” I tried to laugh. I thought of the pros I’d seen on TV, and of the forecaddies that spotted their errant drives.

Fortunately, we found the ball right away.

Since we were keeping up with the group in front of us, the marshal zipped around us, his tires squealing, not bothering to wave, on his way to stalk the next foursome.

My nerves stretched taut from all the excitement, I swung too hard and hit a big slice on the next hole. I mean the woods are full of long hitters. This time our search wasn't as successful. And I guess we spent too much time looking for the ball.

After we found the ball, I looked back and saw that one of the golfers immediately behind us was leaning on a club, talking on a cell phone. Sandy shook his head, “He’s calling the pro shop. We’re playing too slow.”

Chip nodded in agreement, “Better skip this hole.”

“Shouldn’t we just let them play through? I asked naively.

“No, that’ll take too long,” Chip replied. “Let’s skip to the next hole.”

Sandy had a concerned look on his face, “Just a minute, if we skip the rest of the hole, Casey’s hole-in-one won’t count.”

We let them play through.

Not much happened after that, except that we played through the guys that we let play through. Sandy didn't even need to use his cell phone to threaten them. Anyway, they got stuck on a green called “El Diablo,” which slopes severely from left to right and steeply from back to front. They let us “putt” through, if you can imagine that. “They ought to bulldoze this mother,” one of them grumbled, having taken four putts. 

Later, I read that "El Diablo" is the toughest hole to putt in the county. IMHO, lining up a putt on that hole is like trying to follow "Ariadne through the labyrinth after she has run out of string."

I ended up buying drinks for everyone in the foursome. Counting the drinks, the green fees, the tips, the cart we’d rented, and the bets I’d lost, I shelled out over $400.00 for the round.

Speaking of golfing bets, I wonder how much money changes hands illegally each year? The rules are so complicated not even Justice Scalia can figure them out. Unknowingly, we average schmucks must break dozens of rules over the course of a round, and then shell out hard-earned cash to a guy that has broken more rules than Sadam Hussein.

Lost bets or not, my experience at Lake Hills was well worth every dollar I’d spent. I’d made a hole in one—a perfect shot made on a perfect day, made on a perfect hole. I knew it would never happen again. For a brief moment in time, I’d played against two golfing legends, with Bagger Vance at my side. At times, I can still see and hear the imaginary spectators as they applaud and cheer me on. That image will never be real for most of us, for we can only imagine what it would be like to play golf before thousands of adoring fans. 

Oh, by the way, I didn’t break one hundred, but according to Sandy's digital watch, we completed the round in four hours, six minutes and two seconds. After we got in,  I shook hands with the marshal. It was an apathetic gesture on my part; like Austin Powers, he ought to get stuck in a time warp.  He grinned at me with a look of Schadenfreude etched in his face, knowing that I was new to the game. 

We hardly did any dawdling or doddering like the old men who play golf. Golf is a great form of exercise. We did a lot of running out there. And I learned a lot. Next time I’ll wear my digital watch with the timer on it and bring my cell phone.

Thank God for high-tech equipment and these modern-day golf courses. I mean, what’ll they think of next.


Note by the Editor

Casey Corebit, a computer geek who works deep down in the bowels of a large computer company, has a passion for high-tech golf equipment and digital watches. He’s a frequent contributor to this web site. But he can be a 404 (file not found) at times. Any relationship to persons, places or events described in this story should be taken with a grain of salt; most likely, any relationship to them is purely coincidental.

Mr. Corebit has also provided this site with a golfing quiz. Care to take it? If so, click on the following link: (Casey Corebit's Character Test).



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