Sunday, June 03, 2007

Inspired By Bukowski

I’m going to try something a little different for this post, because there are a lot of crazy things happening in my life right now and I’m at the point where I think just boiling down one of my posts into a Bukowski-esque form might just get to the root of my opinions a little faster. Who knows, this may even be a little easier to read.

I was also bitten by a “rather aggressive” Lonestar Tick yesterday while desperately searching for an errant tee shot and I’ve been a little on edge with fears of Lyme Disease (the “rather aggressive” part is a quote from a website that had a picture of my attacker). So I’m feeling a little poetic at the moment.

So here we go: an attempt to write like Charles Bukowski.

Sometimes Aleve just isn’t strong enough.
I find bruises
No idea where they came from
A social worker would cringe
From the sight
My knees
Don’t feel supportive right now
It’s a balancing act to stay upright
Maybe I shouldn’t have had that
Extra cocktail
Last night.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel
A familiar face
A favorite player
An Argentinean from Miami
Three friends in toe
All avid in their love for this great game.

It has been months
Maybe even a year
But the member still remembers me
I suppose the feeling is mutual
I still don’t really know him all that well
But I respect him
He respects me
I feel obligated to caddie
Balls to the wall
Till I hurt even more
Poor logic, perhaps
But the company and the tip always make it

I’ll be with them for 3 days
18, 36, 18
72 holes of pure joy
It helps to silence my fears
Of a serious job
And security
For the moment, anyway
Other caddies look at me
Like I stole something
Like I might not be worthy of such a loop
I find comfort
In knowing
That I care enough
To know that I am not entitled
I am grateful
This player-assignment was not my choosing
I will not take this gift for granted
How could anyone?
Good golf and good money?
I suppose only non-golfers would argue

The member allows me to call him
By a nickname
The others I try my damndest to pronounce correctly
Although not that difficult
I try to show their culture the proper respect
So I accent the same letters they do
One of the players
I still have no idea
His speech was rushed on the first tee
I hope that before the 72 holes are up
I’ll have it
Not to foreshadow too much
But it took me 70.

The golf they were playing
Took the form of a Match-play Championship
Two-footers were not even close
To a gimme
Lockjaw was a common debilitation
I don’t know Spanish
I can only count to 10
But I could easily decipher
The cursing
A missed putt
Caused the body to shake
The arms to reach to the heavens
And utter every bad word
Ever learned
On a school bus
Or elsewhere
On one occasion
After an important putt rocketed past the cup
One of the guests yelled and screamed
For a good 30 seconds
After a moment of silence
The member smiled and turned
“Would you like a translation, Tom?”
“No, I think I get the picture.”
Almost makes me want to learn Spanish
So I can be just as eloquent
When I decide to drop the F-bomb
Although I suppose
Would work just as well.

One of the teams dominated
For 3 of the 4 rounds
Was impressed at my own ability
To focus
In 95-plus degree heat
Reading putts that would
Normally make me second guess
Without flinching
I was Neo from The Matrix
I saw lines beneath the grain
The nods of approval
And pats on the back
Never felt so rewarding.
I wanted to do a good job
This was my favorite member
For no other reason
Than he respects me the most
I mean hell
I must’ve been focused
Because I did not even feel
Or sense
The Lonestar Tick biting the
Out of my leg
When I was in the trees looking for
That errant tee shot
It took me over 2 hours to realize
That she was even there
Fears of Lyme Disease
Call into question my lack of
Health Insurance
I think now I might be motivated.

By the time the last
18 holes
Came my way
The forecast was for
More rain
And severe rainstorms
But they came from Miami
A little water
Would do nothing to deter
The last match of the weekend
The two underdogs still needed
A win
I know I wanted to see it, anyway
I was hurting
My legs couldn’t seem to move faster than
A speed walk
My mind tried to compel them
But Mr. Lactic-acid had something else
To say
About that.
By the 3rd hole
Visibility was poor
I could only see about
100 yards in every direction
The rain felt like the massaging jets of a Jacuzzi
Bill Murray’s famous “I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s coming down for quite a while.”
Came to mind
I think for the last 5 holes they were carrying
The wind and cold had slowed me down
To an embarrassing walk
I didn’t want to let down my member
But he just smiled and applauded my efforts
As his cart fish-tailed off of the fairway.

By the time we reached the 14th
The match was over
My underdogs had finally won
Big time
Despite my poor reads on the greens
Now, normally
I just accept the fact that I suck
Don’t get me wrong
I still try
But let’s not kid ourselves here
I over-analyze
For 54 holes
Believe it or not
I was flawless
But the last 18 holes were just ugly
Even had a few going the other way
It was surprising that they still asked me
For anything
Part of me thinks the member was just
Being kind
Telling his players to trust me
They had to have known I was tired
You can’t fake running like Forrest Gump
At least I had more time to take a breather
And better scenery
Than he did.

By the end
They were all so grateful
Sincerely happy
Normally it would be hard to tell
But they spoke Spanish
They could’ve said a million things
Behind my back
If they didn’t like the job I was doing
I’m sure they would’ve stopped asking
For advice
But regardless of all the Spanish
The cursing
The remarks on the side of the green
They still put their trust in me
For whatever reason
Regardless of how water-logged and tired I was.

I will always treasure
Those final handshakes
That last eye-to-eye glance before
A player and his caddie part ways
Never to meet again.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Evolution At Its Best: Mr. Safari

Yesterday I met quite an unusual fellow.

I was assigned to a group with four walkers. The member in the group wanted one caddie per player. I guess he wanted to impress one of his clients. I was assigned to this “client,” whom we’ll call Mr. Safari. I really want to call him that because he just so happened to be wearing one of those stupid hard white hats with the three small holes in the front, the sort of thing normally reserved for dirty men with mustaches running around Africa trying to blow away an animal with an elephant gun. He had one ball marker on either side of his brim, and they looked more like crown jewels than practical tools for a golf course. He was wearing a light blue striped golf shirt and light blue shorts, which only accentuated his manliness. And shoes? Why black Nike high-tops of course. What else would you use to round out a well planned ensemble?

His bag weighed a ton. My boss has this philosophy which he bestows upon every new recruit that walks through the door: there’s no such thing as a single being too heavy. Meaning, if you’re only carrying one bag for 18 holes, it shouldn’t matter how heavy it is. Over the last 3 years, I’ve modified that statement. I believe for the most part he’s right, but I’d say about 10% of the time he’s dead wrong. Today would be one of those times. It was a cart bag with Dangerfield-esque qualities. He had everything in there: a couple dozen balls, a few cell phones, a pair of shoes and 16 clubs.

“I really don’t want to take anything out of my bag.”

Is there any particular reason you feel this way? No? Do you LIKE being kicked in the nuts?

I looked over at the member, who seemed to be pleading with me with those big, puppy dog eyes. He wanted to please his client. So I took a deep breath and nodded. I wouldn’t want something as small as me changing a bag out to be the catalyst for screwing up a big business deal for this guy. I don’t think that would ever happen, but I just had a feeling I should pick up the bag and keep quiet. Then, suddenly, a hand comes out of nowhere and grabs two wedges out of the bag. It was my boss.

“I’ll just take these. They’ll be waiting up at the cottage for you.”

I froze. I looked at Mr. Safari to see his reaction. A long moment passed and then he finally nodded and said, “Yeah, whatever you guys need.” Well that’s just great. That’ll save my back a bit. I guess my boss had already assessed the situation long before I arrived on the scene and decided to help lighten my load.

Mr. Safari grabbed his belly-putter (with the cute matching light-blue grip) and said, “Oh, by the way. I have a rangefinder, but I left it on the range.”

Well, that’s too bad.

“Well, I guess I could—“

One of the outside staff guys butted in: “On the range sir? Whereabouts?”

“Almost in the middle of the range on one of the club-stands.”

“No problem. Be right back.”

Great. Please HURRY. I can’t WAIT for this guy to double check me on yardages all day.

Ten minutes later the staff-member returned with the rangefinder and we all moved to the first tee. It took Mr. Safari a good 10 minutes to make his way over to me and take his driver, because he was just too busy playing around with his rangefinder. It looked like he was getting yardages to everything. Yay! Let’s point it at stuff! He aimed at the beginning of the fairway, over the bunker, on the edge of the fairway, in the trees on the right and even at the porta-john in the woods on the left. I guess he wanted to prepare just in case his diaper didn’t hold out.

But the fun didn’t start until we reached his approach shot.

“119 to the front and 135—“

“Whoa whoa. You need to understand something.”

Dramatic pause.


“I need you to say ‘watermelon’ before I hit the ball.”


“Yes. My swing can become jerky at times and I need to hear that so I remember to swing smoothly.”

“I’m sorry. ‘Watermelon?’ I don’t get it.”

“W a t e r – melon [backswing-follow thru]. It just sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

“I guess so.”

“My wife prefers: ‘margarita.’”

Yeah, I would prefer one right now myself.

So I gave it a shot: “Alright sir. Water-melon.”

“Thank you, Tom.”

Well that felt weird. I felt more like a dancing dog in a tutu than a seasoned caddie. This sucks. And of course he whiffed his next shot. How could he NOT. He’s focusing on fruit.

His third shot ended up on the green, pin-high left. As I ran to retrieve his “manly” divot, he yelped: “Wait. Tom? I like to have a club in my hands at all times. Could you please hand me my putter?”


“Great. And just remember: after every shot, try and guess what club I’ll need next. I want to hang onto that club all the way to my next shot.”

Wow. Holy fruitcake.


So I handed him his putter. I finished replacing his divot and ran ahead to fix his ball mark on the green. Upon our next encounter, he decided to allow air to pass over his larynx once again.

“Alright. Here’s the way I want this done. You start on the other side of the hole. Then, as I stand up from reading the putt on THIS side, I want you to stand up and switch spots with me. When I get up from reading my putt on the OTHER side, I want you to point to a spot you like. Then, I’ll tell you whether I like it or not.”

Holy crap balls in heaven. Just putt the ball already.

After a long, drawn out ballet which reminded me more of a synchronized swimming routine than a display of green-reading, I finally picked a spot.

“Okay, I like it.”

He lipped out, a squirrel farted and two of the members in his foursome were already over on the second tee. I had a strange feeling that at this precise moment, Ben Crane was playing golf somewhere in America and sensed the pace of our round. I envisioned him whipping out a Scotty Cameron and declaring: “There can be only one.”

Upon completion of the first hole, I ran into my forecaddie position on the second. I told one of the other caddies in the group about the whole “watermelon” request. He had his own backswing-follow-thru trigger.

“Go – FUCK-yourself.”

Not bad. Although, we both thought the follow-thru might feel a little rushed if that particular keyword was used. So I opted not to suggest it.

When we arrived near the green on the second hole, he already had his 60-degree wedge in hand.

“Where is this one going, Tom?”

Well, he didn’t want to go long. Anything short of the hole was perfect.

“Just try and land it on the front of the green and let it roll out. Anything short is good.”

He lined up and hit the shot. It was perfect, but the aim was a little off. The shot finished about 2 feet right of the hole. He tapped in for par and then approached me for his driver.

“Next time, POINT to where you want me to hit the chip. Otherwise, I’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Quiet you! Otherwise Ben Crane will hear and come to kick us in the nuts!

But regardless of how things were going, I knew that he couldn’t keep this up. There’s no way a player—who is not a professional—can laser in yardages, debate them, analyze to the inch where to place the ball around the greens and look at bogey putts for 5 minutes without cracking at reaching an I-don’t-give-a-rats-ass attitude. And by the time we reached the 7th hole, I was right.

“How far, Tom?”

“157 front and 174 flag. Make sure you get it up onto the upper tier.”

“Got it.”

That’s it? No other questions about the wind? The lie? The Bush Administration? Really? No rangefinder double check? Awesome.

And 83-88 strokes later, we tapped in for a glorious bogey on 18. He had been defeated 3 ways on the Nassau and had slowed down our round to a painful 5 hours and 15 minutes. We were slow? Yes. Was the bag heavy? Absolutely. But did Ben Crane kick us in the nuts? No way. And that was just fine by me.