“Dodd; you sure talk a lot of trash for a mediocre golfer.”
The Honorable Judge Brad Jacobs (yes, son of Buzz) after playing a round of golf with me.
Regular readers of this column are fully aware that I play golf, often and often badly. When the honorable Brad Jacobs referred to my game as mediocre that was probably the highest compliment I have ever received regarding my golf game!
I’ve been playing so many years with a bag full of old clubs and irons, most of it given to me as gifts, and some, by golf standards, ancient technology. Think of it in terms of having a 35-year-old computer complete with Pong.
This past week I decided for the first time in my golfing career and life that life beats out golfing by a couple of decades. I purchased for myself a complete set of woods, driver, putter, irons and hybrids. A new and very pretty bag. Only golfers will appreciate this, but for the first time in my life or golfing career, I have head covers that match on my woods.
The first time I played with the new clubs I added 5 strokes to my already highly inflated and often embarrassing score! I pretty much suck at golf by any standards involving what you would call a good golfer. Among my golfing buddies I have found other golfers who play so badly I could compete with them for skin bets. And occasionally win. I really feel kind of sorry for them having to admit that to anyone who plays golf.
I can upon occasion hit some mighty good golf shots. I have never been able to string 72 of them in a row. Or 84. I have upon occasion strung together 94 really good ones in a row.
At one time I thought if I practiced and worked hard that I could be a good golfer. That was before I played the game. Golf is a different beast. Golf can humble the very best athletes I have ever known. It is a lot like bowling. People can be very good at golf and bowling and not be overly athletic.
I believe that kind of an old axiom for the game of golf is that it will truly either spotlight or expose your character. A bad round of golf can literally tear at your soul. I am going to relay a story about a friend of mine who shall remain unidentified because so many people I know, know him. Let us call him Carl (yes, as in Caddy shack).
Carl worked with me in those days. Carl was one of the most likable human beings I have ever known. He received a master’s degree in his early 20s and in addition to being very good at his job and extremely likable he was quiet and even-mannered. I had never heard him utter a loud, angry, or profane word or phrase and I was probably around daily Monday through Friday for many years.
Something changed all of that and how I came to see Carl. I saw him on a golf course!
It was a very small badly organized 6-team golf scramble at Bogey’s golf course on Highway 60 just before you got to Borden. If you never played at Bogey Inn golf course you missed possibly the best bang-for-your-buck golf course ever. It had an island hole Par 3. It was not maintained so the moat-like ditch of water was stagnant.
I had been playing a couple of foursomes behind Carl. After we finished the scramble, some of us decided to play a few more holes, including quiet, lovable, and very soft-spoken Carl.
Carl had been struggling on the course that day. Carl on a golf course would be reminiscent of the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde persona of literature. When he hit a bad shot, by all witness accounts Carl would cuss like a sailor, lose his temper, get very frustrated and apparently occasionally toss a club.
I was informed as I began to play in the group with him that Carl had thrown a club that inadvertently slid into a large, muddy, weed-filled pond. From all appearance it would have taken scuba gear and an accomplished diver to retrieve it. It was a 7 iron.
All I needed was the perfect moment. Let me preface the perfect moment by stating that everyone who had been playing with Carl before I joined the foursome had told me how sensitive and upset Carl was that he had unintentionally thrown his 7 iron in the pond and implored of me not to mention it. I am sure the word “please’ was thrown at me.
As I was about to hit my tee shot on our first hole together, I addressed the ball and stared into the fairway as I was strategizing the shot. It was a rouse. I was strategizing about Carl and the perfect golf moment. I stayed in character as the guy who was thinking of the perfect club to use for my tee shot. I backed away from the tee and looked directly at Carl and deadpanned: “Hey Carl, can I borrow your 7-iron?”
It is amazing that we remained such good friends on Monday at the office after the cussing out that I was the target of from sweet, little shy, even-tempered Carl. However, I did not take it personally. I am a golfer. It was just par for the course. After the cursing stopped, I am pretty sure I got a literal birdie on that hole!
I do not mean the golfing kind.