Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Streak

Yesterday I witnessed something truly amazing. Something so unbelievable that it will probably be quite a long time before I get a chance to see it again. The perfect round of golf. But this wasn’t the kind of round you’re all thinking of. The kind of round were everything is clicking, putts are dropping, and misses are still quite playable. Nay.

One of the players I caddied for yesterday almost hit a bunker on every hole.

Pretty amazing, right? At first you’re like, “What? That’s all? What’s so special about that?” But then you realize the magnitude of the situation. The idea that someone could be trying their best to play golf and STILL end up in most of the bunkers out there…well…it’s just CRUEL. It would be enough to drive me off of the golf course and become a raging alcoholic in my spare time.

“Welcome to AA Tom. What brings you here?”

“I was on the golf course one day…and…sorry…this is hard for me to say…but I was out playing…and I managed to hit my ball into a bunker on every hole. And I wasn’t even trying to do that. I wasn’t even TRYING MAN!”

“Dear Lord. My wife divorced me, my father just died and I just recently found out I have prostate cancer. But after hearing your story…well…Tom…you just make me feel like a pussy.”

“I know.”

I mean sure, bunkers on a golf course occupy SOME space. I’ve certainly played on my fair share of courses where the bunkers seemed to be a little TOO big. But then think about all of the other surfaces over a 4-mile track. Think off the rough, the trees, the cart paths, the sprinkler heads, the fairways, the greens, the fringes, the water hazards and even the TEE BOXES. There are so many other places your ball could end up. And yet, for the first 13 holes yesterday my player unwillingly went to the beach. As for 15, 16 and 17, there were a few moments to reflect and enjoy the good life. But with two strong bunker shots on 17 and 18 this player unwittingly changed my life forever.

It all started out innocently enough. Four guys come to the course under the pretenses of a company outing EXPECTING to have a great day. They shook hands, told some jokes and were introduced to their caddies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite my chipper self from the start because I had been waiting in the caddie room for 6 ½ hours already. I wasn’t really all there. I just felt “off.” And, because I wasn’t on top of my game, I wasn’t able to prevent an awkward inciting incident on the first tee.

All of these guys worked for one of the members at the club, and that member approached both me and this other caddie—let’s call him “Mr. Happy”—to make sure that we understood that these guys were mostly beginners and needed to be corrected on various points of etiquette. Basically, he wanted to make sure we kept them moving along. The conversation was brief and private in nature, and we were only INFORMED in order to safeguard his employees from embarrassing themselves.

So Mr. Happy (I’m calling him that because he’s studying to be a priest) shakes hands with the member, blinks, and then walks directly over to the first tee just PRAYING for an excuse to tell these guests all about the conversation he just had with their boss.

One of the players started the conversation with: “Man. What a gorgeous place. Hope we don’t embarrass ourselves out there too badly—“

Mr. Happy: “Yeah...Ha…Mr. Friendly-Boss talked to us about that already. He said we need to keep an eye on you in case you do anything stupid. Ha. Or if you’re slow. He said you’re all beginners and are probably going to need some help out there. Ha-ha.”

The players looked at each other and then back at our fearless Mr. Happy.


Way to go douche-bag. That conversation we just had with the member? Yeah. That was supposed to be PRIVATE. You were supposed to be DISCREET with that knowledge and simply help these guys have a great day. I mean come ON man. You know what DISCREET means. You're not just masterbating in public, are you?

In all honesty, I really do like this caddie. He just failed to grasp the concept of silence. Because NOW each of the guests were quiet and timid. None of them seemed comfortable in their own skin. If somebody farted too loudly there was a small chance one of them would have a heart attack and die. They acted like they had to be careful with everything they said or did because it might disrupt the sanctity of the golf course or get their boss pissed. I felt so badly for them. They couldn’t relax at all because they all felt like they didn’t belong there.

And so I forced myself to perk up, because I knew I had to help them out. I mean, I hadn’t had a Full Throttle yet, so I was at the whim of my own physiological needs, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

For the first few holes, the players were so helpful that I felt even worse for them. They grabbed 3, 4, 5 clubs out of their bags to make my job easier. They even ran ahead and fixed all of their divots and cleaned their own clubs.

“Here Tom, let me just grab 10 clubs and I’ll meet you up at the green.”

“But you’re 45 yards away from the front.”

“Oh, right. Good point. I might want to grab my driver, too.”

It was ridiculous. It wasn’t until I started forcing some service upon them that they started to relax and enjoy themselves. It was at this point a revelation was announced.

“Hey, Nick? Have you hit a bunker on every hole so far?”

“Why…yes…I guess I have.”

We were on number 6.

At the moment, Nick was just off of the green and could almost PUTT his way home. But he had a wedge in his hand. I’ve never wished this upon any golfer (except for “The Chairman” if you can remember that story), but I wanted him to hit his ball into the bunker. He hadn’t been in one on this hole yet, and I wanted to see how long he could keep this streak going.

And then he skulled it. But he didn’t skull it hard enough, and even though it rolled over the green, the ball didn’t have enough speed on it to make the back bunker. Well, I guess that’s it. Game over man. Game over.

But then he skulled it again. This time, he really connected and the ball flew back over the green and ENDED UP IN THE GREENSIDE BUNKER. Amazing. It was like watching the 2004 World Series. I’m a sucker for the underdog.

Hitting the bunkers on 7, 8 and 9 came easily enough. A flubbed mid-iron here, a slice there and the streak was still alive. I was so excited. I mean sure, my back was starting to develop a nervous twitch from all the bunkers I had to rake, but fuck all that. How much further could he go? Did you guys ever see that one episode of Sienfeld where Kramer test-drives a car and ends up using it all day to run errands? He wanted to see how far the car would go on “E” so he could use Jerry’s car and never have to pay for gas. By the end of the show the car salesman in the passenger seat was so energized by the experience that he begged Kramer not to turn back in towards the dealership when they had the chance. They held hands and zoomed off into the darkness to see how much further on “E” the car would travel. I was now THAT energized. COME ON NICK!

The 10th was our next hurdle. Nick hit a gorgeous 147-yard drive right into the second-cut and then smashed a 76-yard rescue club right up the middle of the fairway. He was now 136 yards away from the front of a well bunkered green.

“I think I’m going to lay up.”

Lay up? What? You pussy! Grab that rescue club. Fucking GO FOR IT. You didn’t come here to eat hot-dogs, right? I mean sure, you stopped at the halfway house and had SOME food, but NOT HOT DOGS. Man…fine…I decided to fall back on my caddie laurels and support the smarter choice.

“Yeah. That’s a good call Nick…I…like it.”

His shot landed just short of the right greenside-bunker. Alright fine. Have it your way. Nice shot.

And just when I think it’s all over, he shanks his “A” wedge into the lip of the trap and it rolls back into that bittersweet granular substance.

I laugh a little louder than I should’ve, and he shoots me a glare.

“Sorry, I was laughing at the other caddie. He made a weird face.”

“I did?”

“Of course you did Mr. Happy! You’re HILARIOUS you crazy kid you.”

Then came 11, 12 and 13. All close calls, all very messy, but somehow Nick came through for me and my silly dream. A dream I’ve had since childhood. I mean seriously, is it so wrong to want to see someone play golf that BADLY before you die? It’s right up there with starting my own business and watching a donkey show.

But 14 is where it all came crashing down. Three perfectly bunkerable situations, and Nick somehow avoided all of them. The most amazing was his last attempt. Again, he was so close to the green he could’ve putted it, but instead he elected to hit his “A” wedge, which since then I’ve named his “Awesome” wedge. He shanked it so hard to the right that he grabbed his wrist and yelped after he made contact. The ball slammed into a rake and careened dead left back onto the green. The ball rolled down the slope and ended up about 8 feet from the flag. An amazing shot.

I was so disappointed in the result that I almost started crying. I mean wouldn’t you? The most amazing streak I had ever seen had some to an end. Lucky number 13. I have a feeling that record will stand for quite some time.

Then again, I imagine there are some pretty amazing streaks out there. Any stories? Anyone ever seen anything like that before?


Anonymous said...

I don't have an amazing streak to brag about, but I will share this story. In our club championship I played a hole from the wrong fairway and still made par.

Tee shot slices onto the next fairway. I take a wedge to sail it over the trees and onto the green. Ball clips the top of the tree and deflects onto the tee box of the same hole. I hit a wedge to 7 feet and putt in. Only the tee shot and putt were played on the proper hole.

Anonymous said...

Who hasn't played from the wrong fairway?

Anyway, in my golf league, I hit a tree on all 9 holes, and still won the match 1-up with a holed chip after flying the green, hitting an half-uprooted pine, and rebounding to just off the fringe short side.

Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled to have you back on track with regular postings. The management job in FL really put a crimp in your writing.

Since you watch all type of players during your job. Post a couple tips on how 12+ handicappers could save a few strokes.

Jam Boy said...

Thanks for the idea. I'll see if I can put a few things together for ya. And thanks for coming back to the site. I hope to be here for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

I've played with a guy who hit not one, not two, but THREE consecutive tee shots which flew perpindicular from his alignment.

I was laughing my ass off after the second.