Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Saturday Scramble

So yesterday was my preliminary “assessment.” My task? Play a 3,300 yard golf course in a scramble format. My goal? I had no idea. I think a part of me wanted to get to at least 10-under par, as this course is less than HALF the length of normal tournament courses and SHOULD be no problem whatsoever to dominate. So I guess my goal was to rape and pillage.

At least, that was the plan.

I pull in at 7:35 am to try and find myself a team. The scramble was put together to benefit a local women’s club in town, and for $35, you received coffee, donuts, possible prize money, and a gift basket at the door.

Now, as an aside, I want you all to know that I had a few beers the night before…to uhh…you know, celebrate the start of this little “experiment.” Now, that’s not an excuse. I’m merely stating that so you can understand the way in which I approached reporting on this little event.

Old people everywhere. Dozens of them. Whining about the coffee, the crappy prizes, and how inept the bag staff was at finding their carts. People limped about every which way and it was by the sheer grace of God that I found the sign-up table. Two women sat at a table covered with flyers, gift baskets, money, and a massive tee-sheet.

“Name?”

“Tom Collins, of course.”

“Tee time?”

“I don’t have one. I was told to come in early and you would pair me up with someone.”

“Alright…how about—“

Just then, an older gentleman with glasses as thick as your fist butted in: “Where the fuck is my golf cart?”

“Mr. Glasses, it should be right outside…oh, and Tom here is going to be playing with you at 8:10. You guys will be teeing off of the back nine.”

We both turned and sized each other up, me being 6’2 and he being a spark-plug all of 5’1.

“Are you any fucking good? Do you know where our cart is?”

“I don’t know. I’ll go out and look, I guess.”

We both shrugged our shoulders and parted ways. I walked outside, grabbed my bag, and started searching for the elusive golf cart. In looking around, I quickly surmised the logistics of this little event: one line of carts was for the front nine tee times and one line was for the back nine. I did NOT know, however, which one was which. The tee times were carefully planted with post-its on the front of the carts. The one in front of me read 8:45 am. A sudden gust of wind blew it away.

Just then, I heard a shriek rise up from behind me: “You’re not on my team!”

I turned to find an older woman in a turquoise-striped golf outfit pointing a boney finger in my direction.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not on my team! That cart there belongs to Ethel!”

Now, at this point, other than Mr. Glasses, I had no idea who was on my team, so I said the first thing that came to mind. I assumed she WAS on my team.

“I’m not on your team? That makes me sad. Why can’t I be on your team?”

But she didn’t bite on the cuteness factor.

“You’re not on my team!”

Seeing no end to this solid, well thought-out argument on her part, I decided to turn to someone with a nametag and ask where the hell my cart was.

“Excuse me, sir? I’m going off at 8:10 and I have no idea where my cart is.”

“He’s not on my team!”

SHUT THE HELL UP WOMAN!

“Your cart? Are you on the front or the back nine? Cause the back nine carts are over there.”

“Ah, thank you.”

“Told you! He’s not on my team!”

Yes, thank you. I think we got it.

So I trudge over in time to meet up with Mr. Glasses, and we slam our bags on the back of trusty cart number 48. I liked that number, as it should also correlate to our 18 hole score for the day. Gross. I retrieved my gift bag to see what my hard-earned money had provided. Well that’s nice: Anti-Age Cream and a Pencil.

What?

Just then, two older gents pass by my cart, huffing and puffing as they carry their 95-pound cart bags (as a former caddie, I shudder just looking at them) to nowhere in particular. This was the second time they had walked by, so I figured I would try and help them out.

“Where are you guys going?”

“We’re trying to find our cart…we’re teeing off at 9:10.”

“Well, we’re 8:10, so I think your cart should back that way.”

“No, we’ve been back there. There’s nothing.”

“Hang on. Let me go ask someone.”

So I walked back to ask another guy with a nametag where the hell the 9:10 cart was. Sure enough, after finding someone, he just shrugged his shoulders and turned the other way. Awesome. Another bag-attendant who would rather stand around and WATCH this debacle unfold than to try and remedy the situation.

So I came back empty-handed, telling these gents that I couldn’t find out any useful information whatsoever. One of them uttered: “Well, don’t you work here?”

“No, I don’t work here. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

I couldn’t resist. They just stared at me. Well, good. Chew on that one while you rub that Anti-Age Cream on yourselves. In fact, use mine. What the hell am I going to do with it anyway?

Finally, after all of the shenanigans, I met up with another member of our team: an older gentleman I named Mr. Bad-Eyesight, because he had no idea where his ball went after the first 20 feet. As it turned out, our team would only be a threesome, so we would be alternating every three holes on who would get to play an extra shot.

You know, I just realized I named one of these guys “Glasses” and the other one “Bad-Eyesight.” That’s hilarious. I suppose subconsciously I was hoping that putting the two together would yield something special. Or cancel each other out. Whichever is better.

And so it came to pass, that at 8:10 am, on Saturday, October 04, 2008, I embarked with Mr. Glasses and Mr. Bad-Eyesight to win ourselves a freakin’ scramble. I was hoping that their combined ages of 158 meant that I would be able to soak in nothing but wisdom and pleasant insights in the 3-hour round to come. But, nay, it was not to be.

We started off strong with birdies on the first two holes. My plan to rape and pillage this golf course was going off without a hitch, and my swing felt surprisingly good after just a sip of coffee, which normally tweaks my muscles into periodic spasms. Must’ve been the recent stretching exercises.

Then we bogeyed the 153-yard 3rd for no good reason whatsoever. I think we were all asleep or something. It’s like the course was lulling our team into a state of over-confidence, and instead of actually PLAYING golf, I felt as if I was just watching myself play it. I needed to refocus.

For the next four holes, we set ourselves up for birdies on the grueling 110-yard 4th, the 270-yard 5th, and the 225 yard 6th (the pars being 3, 4 and 4 respectively), but were unable to convert due to merciless lip-outs. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was the weight of both of them on my shoulders that caused undue tension to build up in my putting stroke.

And then the incredible happened: I was struck with a golf ball.

Now, up until this point, my fearless playing partners could not stop talking about how far Big Red—the 300-pound golf-ball-crushing-beast-of-a-man who was playing behind us—could hit his driver. “Oh, he can do this…he can do that…he can hit every par 4 on this course.”

Well…yeah…the longest par 4 is 315 yards. I would say a lot of people could do that.

So here we were: my team was setting up for another birdie try on the unbearable 257 yard 7th, when I feel something slap the side of my right leg. Hard. Confused, I turn to see a ball roll gently away from me toward the front of the green. In thinking about it, I’m surprised how long it took me to realize what had happened: Big Red…that wanker… hit me on the fly from 257 yards away. What are the freakin’ odds.

The pain didn’t seem that bad at first. Just sort of a dull stinging. But after about 5 minutes, it was like every muscle in my right leg decided it was a good idea to tense up and ache right along with ground zero. Fortunately, Mr. Glasses rolled in the birdie, and we all waited on the green for Big Red and the rest of his posse to approach us. When they arrived, Mr. Glasses turned into an attack dog.

“Didn’t you fuckers see us on the green? We’ve had to wait for the ladies in front of us to clear on every hole…didn’t you think YOU should wait too? Fuckers!”

The group looked more confused than anything else. Predictably, Big Red apologized, but I couldn’t help but notice his complete lack of interest in what had just happened. In fact, during the apology, he kept looking over his shoulder at his ball, which now rested 20 feet away from the flagstick because of me. Nice shot wanker.

“Hey man…I’m…uhh…really sorry.”

“Did it occur to any of you to yell fore?”

“But I hit it over left of the green. I saw it curling over this way—“

“So you saw the ball curling toward the green?”

“Yeah…I uhh—“

“And you didn’t yell fore?”

“Yeah…”

“Nice shot wanker.”

He just stared at me. I think it was more the word “wanker” than anything else that confused him and forced him to collect his thoughts. Either way, I was done with the conversation. As mad as I was, the odds of hitting someone from that far away are really freakin’ slim. I’m just glad he didn’t hit me in the head. Otherwise you would be reading a post that would look something like this:

I love pancakes…blahahahaldoggies…puppysnots…wankerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

That would have been one sweet post. Anyway, back to reality: now, instead of raping and pillaging this petite track of land, I was forced to play the rest of the day like Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines. Well…I guess it wasn’t anything like that. But close. Really freakin’ close.

From that point forward, it was like I had to reconfigure my swing. I had to put a little more weight on my left foot, which limited the coiling action in my backswing. This meant that I had to use an extra club most of the time, which pissed me off even more, because the course was already short as can be. But despite the limping, the missed putts and the fact that we didn’t use a single shot from Mr. Bad-Eyesight all day, our team still finished 6-under par. On this particular course, that meant we shot a 56.

I didn’t even stay around for the awards presentation. I don’t even know what place we came in. I didn’t want to sit around for 2 more hours and wait for everyone to finish WITHOUT some painkillers or alcohol or SOMETHING to distract me from Big Red’s dumbass.

But, in driving home, I realized something important about my game: I still need a lot of work with my wedges from 50-100 yards. Unless you’re playing on greens with a stimp-rating of 12 or higher, there’s no reason you can’t be within 15 feet from those yardages. I should be getting up and down much more often than I am right now. Although I was hitting the green and giving myself a putt, it was always from 20 feet or more. In addition, when it comes to putting, I seem to flip-flop between keeping my head down as I putt and looking up as I make contact with the ball. I need to keep my head down all the time, and “listen to the ball as it finds the cup.” Or whatever that saying is.

As for today, I might go to the range to work on some wedges, depending on how my leg feels. I’ll certainly be stretching it out this morning and taking plenty of Aleve. But hey, if Tiger can walk for 5 rounds of golf on a bum knee on a course like Torrey Pines, so can I. I think I just need to stretch first.

Take care everyone.

1 comment:

English Dave said...

Hey Tom

Heh - I've just realized that 3300 yards is about the same yardage as our front 9 - how on earth did you manage to get all the way round? You must be exhausted ... oh, of course, you needed to share a cart with a geriatric with Alzheimers.

It does seem like the old people LOVE the short courses. And do you ever feel like they're naught more than zombies, shuffling around, mindlessly doing what they've always done all their lives and trying to catch hold of your arms as you pass by? Maybe that's just me.

I wish to God you had the presence of mind to kick that lady who shrieked "You're not on my team" square in the crotch. I remember back when I used to play cricket and there was a lawn bowling green (think like 10-pin, but with old people all dressed in white and breaking every hour for cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches) directly behind the bowler's/pitcher's arm. We were fielding and the batsman hit the ball out of the pitch, straight into this bowling green and it hit an old lady right square in the crotch/midriff, who promptly collapsed on the grass. There was a shocked silence for a few seconds before my mate Dennis said loud enough for everyone to hear "He's hit her right in the cunt!" I couldn't and still can't stop laughing about that. I think she was OK in the end.

I've been hit with a golf ball on the fly before - both in the leg and in the stomach. Thankfully, not both at the same time. That would be unfortunate. Luckily, neither hurt that much. I've got worse blows from playing football and shit. It's a bugger that it stopped you from swinging the club properly. As usual, the only restitution (what a terrific word!) I could really suggest would be to call him gay and kick him in the nuts. That would have learned him. There needs to be more of that in the world.

And lastly, it's funny, I suppose everyone is different but I reckon that my work with my wedges from 50-100 yards in is one of the strong points of my game. It's the longer stuff that I tend to go cross country on. And I tend to back myself to get up and down from off the green 9 times out of 10. In my round on Saturday, I had 11 putts on the back 9 and the 2 putts I missed were because I had actually hit the green in regulation. But I'm nowhere near as good as our club pro - he has the best short game I have ever seen in person. But I reckon we should have a 2 man scramble - you do all the hard driving it in the fairway bits and I'll get you in the hole from 100 yards and in. Piece of cake - we'll be helluva good. Will they let both of us play this format at the US Open? I should think so.

Right, I'm off. Take care.

David